April 20, 2017 at 10:23 p.m.
YOUR NAME (KIMI NO NA WA.) (2017)
Animated. Written and directed by Makoto Shinkai
Japanese writer-director Makoto Shinkai’s “Your Name” has just become the biggest anime film of all time with box office receipts totaling over $334,730,215 as of this writing. The beautifully illustrated film is centered on two teenagers, a city boy named Taki and a country girl named Mitsuha, who mysteriously switch bodies after a brilliant comet appears in the night sky. The transformation is temporary and once the high school students switch back they have no memory of the experience. The anime blends a romantic comedy with a doomsday disaster film and the result is an enchanting tale that should appeal to all ages especially anyone who grew watching Studio Ghibli films.
Taki, an awkward Tokyo teenage boy, wakes up one day in the body of Mitsuha who lives in the small village of Itomori. After the initial self-groping session, the bewildered teen begins to go with the flow and step into Mitsuha’s shoes. The switcheroo is more dreamlike for Mitsuha who at one time wished she was boy living in Tokyo. She wakes up thinking her wish has come true rather than associating the swap with the comet that just appeared over Itomori.
The body switching is temporary and happens at random and since the two have no recollection of what transpired during the experience they each assume it was all a dream. Eventually the missing time and strange feedback from friends and family provide enough clues for the high school teens who figure out what’s happening and start leaving each other notes and texts. It’s a long-distance love affair that leaves the audience yearning for an eventual face to face but Shinkai doesn’t make it very easy as the story becomes more complex.
A supernatural event comes into play that gives the film a somber undertone and “Your Name” becomes a story of survival that includes the use of time travel to help decipher the mystery. The separation theme in the film is nothing new for Shinkai who has worked with variations of the subject in earlier works “Garden of Words” and “5 Centimeters Per Second.” The writer-director has become proficient at creating fascinating stories with characters that are trying to connect.
It’s evident by the stunning animation in the film that Shinkai was inspired by Hayao Miyazaki who gave us the memorable classics Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Spirited Away, which was recently dethroned by “Your Name” as the highest grossing anime film of all time.
Masayoshi Tanaka designed the characters in “Your Name” after previously collaborating with Shinkai on the short film “Crossroads” while Masashi Ando, an ex-Studio Ghibli animator who worked on Spirited Away, helped bring the characters to life. The animation style may evoke memories of Miyazaki but Shinkai takes a more mature approach with his narratives and so the film is focused on adult viewpoints and themes set to a rocking score by the band RADWIMPS. A dazzling film for the grown-up Studio Ghibli bunch.
Now playing at the River Oaks Theater, Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park, and AMC Gulf Pointe 30 in Houston.
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