So, I should pre-face this review. I like Anime. Over the years I’ve watched quite a bit of the medium, so I didn’t have the initial problem that some might have had getting over some of the animation choices, such as the typical big eyed character design, and so was able to settle into the utter treat that was, Your Name.
It’s the first film that former graphic designer turned director, Makoto Shinkai has been able to secure a wide release for, despite being a well-established filmmaker (his directorial debut was in 1999). Your Name has certainly crushed the Japanese box office, grossing $172 million so far, ranking it as the fifth highest grossing film the country has ever seen.
The film itself justifies those figures. On face value this body-switching drama-romance presents itself a relatively straightforward piece of work, however as it progresses the film clearly has some grander ideas at work.
In the beginning, the two main characters carry the film with their antics; switching back forth. Watching how the duo and those around them deal with this is a lot of fun, and gives us some nice re-occurring gags. But after a monumental realization (and some wonderful foreshadowing) the film takes a far more interesting turn as it enters its second act. There’s little to no warning of what eventually transpires, and the less I say regarding it, the better.
What I can say is, that for a fun-dramatic-romp it comes with a level of thematic depth that I found pleasantly surprising and impressive in its vision. It demonstrates Shinkai’s talents as a filmmaker, and with Your Name being the first anime not directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki to make over 100 million at the box office, it’s unlikely this will be the last time we hear Shinkai’s name. Male and female, masculine and feminine, nature and technology, love and loss, these contrasting themes, and more, are explored and the film reminds us that through all of these, we’re all still connected.
Its target audience of young adults will certainly enjoy the film, but those just generally interested in engaging with Cinema should not skip over this one. This complex movie has a lot going for it, from the many readings of connection and love to more complex interpretations including the impact of Japan’s 2011 Tsunami disaster. Simply put, Your Name is a fantastic example of what’s capable in the anime genre, that makes full use of the concepts it presents, whilst being a highly enjoyable and artistic experience. It gets the highest of recommendations from me.