We live in a society that is always looking ahead, constantly looking for the next big thing to become ‘hyped’ about. We are all looking for the next thing to fill our lives with a bit of excitement however fleeting that feeling may be. Unless you have been living under a rock for the last year, there is one anime film that has been on the end of anime fans lips around the world, that is Makoto Shinkai’s latest film, Your Name.
By the time the film had finally been released it was hard to decipher what all this hype truly meant. It is on track to becoming the highest grossing anime film of all time and even a potential Oscar win. But is it really worth the hype, could all the hubbub be for naught or did Shinkai really create the magnum opus masterpiece his career has been barreling towards with each and every film he has produced?
By the time the credits had rolled I knew one thing for certain; there was no amount of hype or media coverage that could have truly prepared me for how good this film truly is. I sat in sheer reverence of the film I had watched as the credits rolled and by the time the lights had hit in the cinema, I knew that I had just had a once in a lifetime experience that could never be replicated. Poignant, affecting and utterly breath taking, Makoto Shinkai has produced one of the greatest anime films to ever grace the silver screen.
With Your Name, Shinkai takes a familiar tale and turns it completely on its head. We have all seen stories about body swapping, be in Freaky Friday, Quantam Leap or even in the anime Kokoro Connect, but Your Name is unlike any before it.
After witnessing a meteor shower, Mitsuha, a high school girl from the countryside Gifu prefecture and Taki, a high school boy from the big city of Tokyo, begin to wake up in eachothers bodies. At first the two think it is all one wild dream, that is until the actions in their ‘dreams’ begin having impact on their lives. They soon realize this isn’t any dream and start working out rules and ways in which to communicate with one another, leaving messages scrawled across their arms or in their electronic journals on their phones. Through their experiences in each others lives, they grow together and even begin to develop feelings towards one another. Unfortunately it all comes crashing down when one day they simply stop swapping places for reasons unknown. This leads them on a cross country journey to find one another, leading to one of the greatest twists in cinematic history, the magnitude of which is too great to spoil.
At its core, Your Name is a love story about two very different people finding each other through the most unexpected of ways, but it is so much more than that. Like almost all of Shinkai’s films, Your Name focuses heavily on the theme of distance, both emotional and physical. Over the course of Your Name, we see Shinkai explore each and every facet of this tenet, detailing the ways in which we as human beings handle and respond to the distance between us all. For Mitsuha and Taki the distance proves greater than they could ever have imagined. Unlike previous films by Shinkai, Your Name does the surprising thing of ending on a hopeful note on the topic of distance. Unlike the heartbreaking conclusion to 5 Centimetres Per Second, Your Name concludes on the idea that there is no distance too great to overcome and that with hard work, enough passion and desire there is always hope. Whether it be fate, destiny or of any other name, some things are meant to be and you are never too far when you keep each other in your hearts.
There is so many things to praise this film for, be it the stellar soundtrack by Japanese rock band RADWIMPS or the aesthetic beauty on display in each and every frame, but if there is one thing I must say that praise this film for more than anything is the way that it made me feel. It made me glad to be alive, grateful to have my good friend besides me watching it, thankful that my family was home waiting for me, appreciative that the people I care for are only a phone call away and lucky to have so much love in my life. Your Name was an emotional roller coaster for me, that left me feeling grateful for everything I have been afforded in life. I can’t recall ever leaving a film and feeling so much and it is an experience I’ll cherish.
Your Name is a film that will mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, whether it be simply a fun two hours of anime or an emotional revelation that will leave you changed. Shinkai continues to create art that redefines what anime can be, whether he believes it or not. Your Name is without a doubt the greatest film he has ever made and it is more than worth every ounce of acclaim it has received. There is no way to prepare you for what exactly you are about to see, no amount of words to do justice to the beauty and power of this film, just know that the magic of movies is alive and well and for that I am thankful.