Arguably a snub for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Oscars, Film’s Charlie Kerr takes a look at Your Name
It may seem that Your Name is laughably unoriginal in its choice of plot for such an ambitious piece of cinematography – this itself we cannot deny with the film raking in ten million yen already at the box office – but what Makoto Shinkai has really shown us is his nonchalant perseverance in proving his movie just as engrossing as Freaky Friday and other previous body- swap films. It is not just Hollywood which loomed over Your Name when the film was announced, but the prestige of Hayao Miyazaki who has given us masterpieces such as Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. Yet through these obstacles, Shinkai delivers a masterpiece of his own which speaks for itself.
Your Name’s ambitious creation from the offset succeeds in its stunningly beautiful interweaving of plot and scenery. For an animated movie there is an idyllic portrayal of both rural and urban life in Japan. It is the idea of interweaving itself which is at the heart of this story. The film begins with Mitsuha, a teenage girl, who laments the heavily constrained obligations demanded of her by the traditions of her family as well as her father, the Major of the village. Yet against all this she seems to be in a hysteria of confusion as she is unable to make sense of her strange dreams and actions the day before, brought up by her best friends, Katsuhiko and Sayaka, yet forgotten to Mitsuha herself. This for her is a time of unreality which aligns with the enigmatic comet which is set to soar over Japan. This unique occurrence, it is believed, leads to the unique moment of twilight – a moment believed to be a temporary interaction of reality with something otherworldly. Mitsuha, deeply echoing the enigma surrounding this, is required to carry on however and continue the ceremonial traditions taught to her by her Grandmother, Mitoha. The ceremony itself embraces time and comments on how changeable it really is, as well as how our stories our linked together by this weaving of time by the gods. Mitsuha tired of her family constraints wishes to escape it all and become a boy in Tokyo in her next life.
The scene cuts to an apparent dream of Mitsuha’s, in which she is a boy named Taki, a young student and waiter in Tokyo, who has everything she wants in life. She goes along with the realism of the dream, choosing to live Taki’s life for a day while struggling to keep up with his hectic routine. Yet when she wakes we find out that her own life the day before has been filled with similar peculiarities of not being herself. We learn that Taki is in fact a real person and in the two discovering their circumstances they begin to help each other, showing a more comical element to the film in which boy tries to be girl and vice versa. The film manages to make us laugh on numerous occasions such as when Taki discovers that Mitsuha has organised him a date which he had no idea about.
However, this mixing of the two’s lives soon begins to stop and it is up to Mitsuha and Taki to maintain this bond that has been created through them, spurred on by the affections the two have for each other. Shinkai plays on the romance theme of forbidden love, here not prohibited by society or family, but instead by time- it seems that their bond might be lost forever if they fail to act, as their distance from each other becomes more apparent than one might previously expect. The two face the risk of a complete reversal, becoming strangers to one another again wondering the question – what is ‘your name’ and who are you?
This animated (soon to be) classic has shown that it is as worthy as its predecessors in what it achieves. 2016 marked the increasing emergence in scenic cinematography and Your Name, although an animation, is part of this. At times the film can feel like its story is unoriginal for its similarity to cult Hollywood classic Freaky Friday but then the plot becomes so unique in its mysterious feel that we stop caring.
Verdict: Your Name achieves its aspiration to be something more than a teen romp and in its profundity creates a beautiful story of love in destiny.