By: Muneeb Arshid
If 2016 was known as the year of the artsy dramas at the Oscars, it would also be known as the year of the animation. With films like Zootopia, Finding Dory, and Kubo and the Two Strings getting the major considerations last year. One film that was released last year but is only making its way here in North America now is Your Name (Kimi no na wa).
Oh, and did I mention that Your Name is absolutely wonderful. There’s always something about emotional storytelling that will grip a person regardless of which genre the film is. In this case, a Japanese animation from famed director Makoto Shinkai. Now, I haven’t seen the director’s previous films, but those on the internet (I know, right!) do say that his style is very consistent with previous films in his filmography.
So, what is Your Name, you must be asking. Well, it’s a love story that transcends space and time… Literally! To go any further to try and explain the plot would be nonsensical and have to include spoilers and just wouldn’t make sense. This is a story that needs to be experienced by each and every viewer individually and interpret what they might on their own. Just believe me when I sat that the story is gripping, even if the payout doesn’t occur till the latter half of the second act.
The first half of the film is slightly disorienting as it moves from one time period (that of character Tai’s) to the other time period (of character Mitsuka). It depicts a burgeoning love between the two characters in their odd relationship of existing in different time periods. They use an app on their phone to keep track of what each is doing because, and as you would only have in a Japanese animation, the characters “dream” they’re in each other’s bodies every other day which means the actual Tai or Mitsuka have no idea what the other has done in their personal lives. It’s definitely a crazy concept indeed, but one that weirdly works.
What, however, does make sense is the love between the characters. Director Shinkai has created this world where the characters develop according to “normal” conventions even in these abnormal circumstances. It doesn’t lessen the weight of the relationship because of this kooky concept, rather, there’s a sense of relatedness with the characters. There’s a sense of “yes, I’ve experienced that before.” And it’s that experience that makes this weird concept feel quite normal.
Japanese animations always have a very distinct style to them when it comes to the visual arts. Your Name has a Studio Ghibli feel to the magic of the story and of the animation as well. With a heavy focus on sceneries and landscapes, Shinkai and his team have done a wonderful job of creating that awe and spectacle of watching this film that you so desire, especially when viewed on the big screen. As weird as the concept of the story, the romance and the love work at a rooted level where you understand as another human about that feeling of being so close to someone yet being so far away.
Your Name is not a perfect film, close, but not perfect. There are some pacing issues that are prevalent in the film especially during the second act where it feels that the film is dragging in its plot. It really makes a point in establishing the narrative and the love story in quite a lot of detail which seems unnecessary. There is also a decision that’s been made to use a lot of sound effects from games like Metal Gear Solid or other Konami hits which give it that distinct Japanese feel but feel out of place in the media of film.
Your Name was a film that was recommended to me as a must watch film and that I must agree with. What the story accomplished with creating the world where this story can occur is truly remarkable. A film that is not necessarily perfect as I did have some problems with pacing as well as some of the sound effects. It’s definitely kooky and will take you a bit of time to get used to the premise but Your Name really hits the mark as one of the best animations of 2016/2017.
The Film Lawyers give Your Name a grade of A- (8.6/10).