Written by Bananaowns
Images courtesy of CoMix Wave Films and Toho
Makato Shinkai’s is quickly becoming one of the premiere anime film directors. 5 Centimeters Per Second is one of my favorite anime films of all time. Shinkai’s newest work, Your Name, is an absolute masterpiece. I was fortunate enough to be able to see it while it was in limited release in Los Angeles and I can confidently say that it did not disappoint. I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.
Story and Characters
The story of the film involves a rather simple premise. The main characters, Taki and Mitsuha realize that they are switching bodies and they begin to alter each other’s lives quite a bit. As this new situation becomes the norm, the main characters change each other’s lives for the better. Mitsuha uses her womanly charms to help Taki get close to his female coworker. In return, Taki helps Mitsuha become more popular at school. The real meat of the story begins when the body switching stops and Taki becomes obsessed with meeting Mitsuha. I will not delve into details here because I do not want to spoil the overall plot of the film. The film does have the signature emotional impact that characterizes a Shinkai film. At certain points, I found myself getting quite emotional in the theater to my embarrassment, but the story manages to expertly weave a narrative that it both dramatic and powerful.
The story manages to be this great due to the main characters, Taki and Mitsuha. Taki is a boy living in Tokyo. He is initially shown as brash and a bit immature, but that quickly changes. Admittedly, the bulk of his character development only begins to occur after the midpoint of the film, which means I will not discuss it with too much detail. Mitsuha is an excellent anime character though. She is from a small town and longs to live in the city. Mitsuha’s character is constantly going through a battle of wanting new things, but she is also forced to carry out the ancient traditions of her small town. It’s this central dynamic that really drives her character forward. I apologize for the brief discussion, but the story and characters are excellent enough that they deserve to be seen without me spoiling the entire movie.
Animation and Sound
This is a Shinkai film and with it comes an expectation of outstanding animation. Shinkai once again manages to create a work that is gorgeous in every frame. The film opens with a shot of a comet that I can still see clearly. In the theater, there were audible gasps with this opening, with just how good it looked. Every frame of this movie is a painting come to life. The background detail puts other works to shame. The characters move with such a fluidity and grace that I can only wonder just how much money was spent animating this thing. The designs of the characters are also astounding. I am absolutely in love with how Mitsuha’s character looks.
As for the sound, it actually manages to be just as great as the animation. The film features a wide range of songs by the Radwimps. Each one of these songs is used to perfection. The opening intro song and the fast paced montage song add a layer of charm to these scenes in which they are employed. One of the lyrical songs manages to be used with such perfection that I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Towards the end of the film, the emotion is high and the scene goes quiet. Just as a character is making a revelation, the softer lyrical song manages to kick in at the perfect moment. The instrumental tracks are just as great as well. One seminal scene features a piano track that I believe rivals Lost My Pieces from Toradora in terms of emotional connection. I actually purchased the soundtrack which shows you how much I loved the music. The voice actors for the main characters also do a great job in portraying the body switches. Taki’s voice actor has an amazing female cadence when Mitsuha is possessing his body. Similarly, Mitsuha’s more aggressive tone when Taki is in her body comes across as extremely genuine. Both of these actors had to basically portray two characters, and they do so amazingly. Overall, the animation and sound are phenomenal.
I don’t have really anything negative to say about this movie. I loved every second of it and recommend it to any watcher of anime. I watched this film with the stress of law school finals in my mind. I even watched it in a bad mood considering a parking incident on Wilshire that happened moments before my friends and I got in line. Even with everything on my mind, I managed to forget all of that with just watching this film. It really is that great. I give Your Name my Bananaowns’ stamp of approval. When it comes into wider release next year, pay the money to see it on the big screen, you won’t regret it.