Freaky Friday with science fiction, heartbreak and comedy. That’s essentially the premise of this, the first non- Studio Ghibli anime film to earn over $100 million at the Japanese Box Office. In fact it even held the number one spot at the box office for four months. The phrase ‘successor to Hayao Miyazaki’ is one that should not be used lightly and yet, courtesy of this film, it would appear that writer/director Makoto Shinkai is worthy of having that title bestowed upon him.
Mitsuha (Kamishiraishi) is a teenager living in a small Japanese mountain town. Her life is made up of two things – school and religion. She longs for the bright lights of Tokyo – so much so she begs to be made into ‘a gorgeous Tokyo boy in the next life.” One morning exactly that happens – she wakes up in the body of Taki (Kamiki) and gets to experience life in the city whilst he gets to live in suburbia. The pair continue to switch back and forth between two lives, locations and genders whilst communicating via messages left in their phones. When one learns the devastating truth behind what is happening they must find a way to fix everything.
A good film gets under your skin (in a non chestburster way). It lingers on the mind and – whilst trying to not sound too saccharine – in the heart as well. Your Name is an immensely satisfying watch in this regard as it manages to be both heartfelt and enormously entertaining. There really aren’t that many films out there like this – body-swapping + time travel + romance isn’t really an expected equation – especially not for such a wonderful film. We’re dropped straight into the action with little preamble as we learn about the characters as they learn about each other.
There’s no obeying strict rules of genre here – mainly because this hybrid hasn’t really been attempted before – thus Shinkai is unrestrained from convention & cliche. His characters are beautifully created as they transcend the screen in terms of their believability and likeability. They, along with the movie as a whole, are remarkably endearing as events are initially set-up. The running gag involving Taki as Mitsuha grabbing his-as-her boobs never stops being funny. Their communicating via the diary app on their phones is an excellent choice allowing the film to be contemporary but never utilised in a way that will completely date the film.
Unsurprisingly this syfy-esque meet-cute allows the two very different characters to allow each other to blossom as people. Taki isn’t very comfortable talking to girls, something which Mitsuha-as-Taki is quickly able to help with, even though she is quickly and deeply developing a crush on her long-distance counterpart. These sequences are interspersed with hilarious montages – all of which is soundtracked wonderfully by Japanese rock band RADWIMPS. The landscapes of both worlds are beautifully rendered with breathtaking levels of detail, quality and colour. As the supernatural scenario starts to deepen and become more serious than either character could have imagined there’s an incredible amount of pathos generated as we, the audience, begin to realise the true meaning behind the film’s brief opening sequence.
‘Your Name’ is a genuine delight of a movie, an emotional adventure that crosses multiple genres. Shinaki seamlessly blends romance with science fiction to incredible effect and deserves the same level of success worldwide.
Dir: Makoto Shinkai
Scr: Mako Shinkai
Cast: Mone Kamishiraishi, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Aoi Yuki, Ryo Narita, Etsuko Ichihara, Kanon Tani, Masami Nagasawa, Nobunaga Shimazaki, Kaito Ishikawa.
Prd: Yoshihrio Furasawa
DOP: Masashi Ando
Run time: 106 minutes
Your Name opens in UK cinemas on November 24th