By Miles Barber (CE ‘18)
Every once in a while, a movie comes along with rave reviews and high expectations, but it’s a few months before it makes it to my area. (This film was released in Japan in 2016 but not until quite recently in the U.S.) All of the things I heard, the amazing animation and the great story, really built up the anticipation. And then, in a rare twist, this film exceeds my expectations. Your Name is the best anime film I’ve ever seen, and I think it’s one of the best traditionally-animated films ever made.
The premise is fairly easy to understand: Two people, a country girl and a city boy, randomly wake up inside each other’s bodies for a day at a time. Some days they’re swapped and some days they aren’t. They slowly learn more about each other and accidentally mess up days of each other’s’ lives to great comedic effect. Each lead very different lives with different dreams and aspirations, which really blends well to make this story engaging. Due to some twists and turns in the story, they become determined to find each other. And all of this happens around a gorgeous comet event. It might seem a little cheesy, but it works for the movie. It certainly worked for me.
This film is perfectly paced. It draws you in from its first scene and never lets go. I was thoroughly invested in the characters and incredible premise right from the start. And just when it seems like a chapter in the story is going to overextend itself, there is some twist that blows your mind while simultaneously fitting perfectly into the movie. The film wraps itself up in a nice bow that leaves you satisfied with what you’ve seen and eager to experience the film again. You really feel like a lot of time has passed in this story, and parts of it actually create a profound sense of nostalgia.
The technical aspects of the film were, as expected, fantastic. The animation leaps off the screen, especially in the rural landscapes where the girl lives. There are so many gorgeous shots of the landscape that feel incredibly real. The animation also handles lighting very well. There is a scene at twilight that feels incredible, and the comet is illuminated beautifully in the sky as it passes overhead. There is just something incredibly magical about the way this film is animated. While there are plenty of computerized effects, they somehow blend with the traditional, hand-drawn animation really well and don’t feel jarring.
Something else that I found impressive about this film is how well it manages to flesh out its characters and put them in realistic relationships. Not once did a character’s actions feel contrived or strange; instead, they just make sense. The differences in the lives of these characters are so well-realized in this movie. Even though this type of story is on the complicated side, I never felt confused or lost at any point in the story; it was all clear and powerfully directed.
There is something in this movie for everyone. Whether it’s from the touching story, the great twists, the genuine mystery element that takes form when the two characters try to find each other, the gorgeous animation, or the premise alone, Your Name will leave it’s mark and you’ll never want it to end. ◊