Two high school students from opposite sides of the country must learn to adapt when their lives begin to switch bodies every few days... and deal with the ramifications of tampering with fate.
1 hour 52 minutes
July 3, 2016 (Anime Expo); August 24, 2016 (Japan); April 4, 2016 (United States)
Distributors: Toho (Japan), Funmiation (United States)
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Writers: Makoto Shinkai
Starring: Ryunosuke Kamiki/Michael Sinterniklaas, Mone Kamishi/Stephanie Sheh
Genre: Fantasy, Drama
Treading in the beautifully-animated footsteps of Porter Robinson & Madeon’s song, Shelter, Your Name, the highest grossing anime film of all time, has recently been released to American viewers through Funimation.
First aired at the 2016 Anime Expo on July 3rd, Your Name traveled to Japanese theaters by late August of the same year. Now, in April of 2017, English-speaking viewers have the opportunity to see this incredible animated story dubbed in all of its stunning glory.
Language: An occasional use of “d*mn” or “h*ll” in the dubbed version.
Alcohol Use/Drugs: One character, a friend of Taki’s, is seen smoking. When asked about it, she says that she used to smoke more often, but gave it up, only to pick up the habit recently due to stress. Taki also works in a restaurant, so his clientele can be seen sipping wine. Later, Mitsuha spends a great deal of time partaking in a Japanese custom of making kuchikami no sake, or “chewing-in-the-mouth-sake,” by spitting out mouthfuls of rice into a cup. Mitsuha makes the saki to place at her family’s shrine. Later, while visiting said shrine, Taki samples a bit of this drink, but only as a way of connecting to Mitsuha and not out of a desire to become intoxicated.
Sexual Content: When the Taki and Mitsuha first switch bodies, Taki (in Mitsuha’s body) gets a little carried away touching her breasts (as noted by her little sister: “You sure do like touching your own boobies!”). Elsewhere, Mitsuha (in Taki’s body) realizes that “there’s something there” around Taki’s, erm, fig leaf area. Later, when she learns he sampled a bit of the saki she made from her own mouth, she calls him a “perv,” though him trying the drink was not inherently suggestive in any way.
Violence: While there are no attacks or assaults depicted, the characters get pretty battered by the great outdoors, as seen when Mitsuha and Taki make a dangerous hike to a family shrine. The whole movie revolves around a natural disaster that wipes out a large number of people, so dark themes of loss and destruction do permeate much of the film. Overall, it isn’t a bloody display, however.
Spiritual Content: Themes of fate, destiny, and predestination are actively discussed and displayed. Many of the supernatural happenings seem to reflect Eastern spirituality, as half of the film takes place in rural, traditional Japan. Traditional Japanese customs, such as festivals and dances, are often shown, adding to the cultural richness and traditional flavor Your Name strives for.
Positive Content: Without spoiling anything, Your Name includes strong themes of love, friendship, trust, and sacrifice. It deals with tragedy, loss, and disaster in a way that will have its audience riveted and, possibly, in tears. There is strong character development and self-growth evident, as well as learning to trust and rely on others. Your Name can be seen as the coming-of-age story of two young people who were fated to meet, even under the strangest of circumstances. When disaster strikes, teamwork, nobility, heroism, and bravery save the day, and audiences are left with a satisfying sense of contentment when the credits start to roll.
Your Name opens with Mitsuha, a high school girl living in rural, secluded Itomori, a town of about 1,500 residents. Her town is rich with cultural values and colorful traditions, but Mitsuha is bored of country life and yearns for the big city. Then, one fateful day, Mitsuha wakes up to realize that her wish has come true–she is living in the body of a high school boy living in Tokyo named Taki. The two begin a routine of magically switching bodies two or three times a week, and it is this connection that sparks their strange relationship. The two begin to work together, leaving notes in each other’s phones and on each other’s bodies to communicate, and soon grow accustomed to sharing their lives. When the body-switching stops, the elaborate, evocative plot twist begins.
Your Name is an enchanting coming-of-age story, and identity is a strong theme of this masterpiece. Taki and Mitsuha are two lost souls, bored of their own lives. Throughout their interactions, there are brief and subtle hints to suggest that one or both of them struggle with identity issues, depression, and family troubles. Mitsuha’s father is an important politician, and she often feels neglected by him, left responsible as the head of her small household. Likewise, Taki’s busy city family seems to hardly notice when he acts up, leading the audience to feel he might be struggling with fitting into the world. Both grapple with the difficulty of growing up, as the disasters that bring them together also threaten to tear them apart.
Earlier I mentioned the music video for Shelter. What exactly related this movie to that one in my mind? One word: animation. Much like Porter Robinson’s visually stunning short film/music video, Your Name has a visual appeal unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. The animation in this film is nothing short of visual fine art; it is hands-down the most gorgeous, detailed, visually-stunning anime masterpiece I have ever seen. Seeing it in theaters certainly didn’t hurt, either–the glittering, high-definition sprayed magnificently on a large screen, booming surround-sound filling my chest with satisfying vibrations, and, of course, good company to discuss the film with afterwards.
The artwork alone is reason enough to explain how the movie has made its way to the top of the charts, even earning the title of highest-grossing anime film. The sketches that Taki makes of Itomori, as well as the panoramic view of the mountainous landscape, are so incredibly detailed, I had a hard time remembering they were, in fact, animated.
The only thing more detailed than the scenery, arguably, is the plot. Though at times a bit tricky to follow (and nearly impossible to explain to your family later, as I soon found out), it is beautifully intricate. It features elements that are simply mind-boggling and deals with complex themes. If you loved having your mind blown by Matrix, this topsy-turvy world of magic, time travel, fate, and lore might be a enchanting addition to your beloved movie collection.
Laced with depictions of culture and tradition, Your Name pays attention to the finer details of rural Japanese lore and strongly Eastern ideals, such as the “threads of time and fate.” The opening few scenes, where the teens are first adjusting to their new shared lives, are well-edited and refreshing, giving the audience the impression they are starting a fun and unique journey. But by the end, Your Name successfully breaks all genre barriers, explores new terrain, and crafts an innovative and breathtaking story full of wonder and mystery.
Overall, Your Name is just a wonderful film. Visually and emotionally stunning, it captivates audiences all over the Eastern and Western worlds, blending tradition, magic, and fate into an intricately-woven tapestry of lore that is sure to delight audiences for years to come.
+ Themes of friendship, unconditional love, sacrifice, teamwork, and trust
+ Culturally rich and evocative
+ Blends traditional and contemporary Japanese themes
+ Gorgeous animation
- Plot can be tricky to follow
- Relies heavily on Eastern spirituality
- Occasionally suggestive
- Some questionable use of substances
- "Fate and destiny" rather than God's plan