November 23, 2016
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Makoto Shinkai had only just burst onto the scene with all the press surrounding his most recent film, Your Name (Kimi no na wa); Shinkai’s first feature film, The Place Promised in Our Early Days premiered in 2004, and his following features 5 Centimeters per Second (2007), Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011), and The Garden of Words (2013) have all received critical acclaim. Although Your Name is far from his first feature film, it is (to date), his most successful, currently the seventh highest grossing film in Japan of all time.
That day when the stars came falling, it was almost as if … as if a scene from a dream, it was a beautiful view…
Mitsuha and Taki are total stranger living completely different lives – Taki lives in Tokyo with his father, and leads a busy life between school, his friends, and his part time job. Mitsuha is from a remote country town, living with her grandmother and younger sister, and practices the rituals of the local shrine, which her family has maintained for generations. Everyone in her small town knows who she is. When Mitsuha makes a wish, born out of frustration, to escape her town and find a new life in Tokyo, their separate lives become bizarrely connected. Mitsuha and Taki begin to dream of another life, but it soon becomes apparent that their dreams are in fact each other’s reality.
Shinkai eloquently weaves together sci-fi, fantasy and romance, continuing the themes present in his previous films of isolated (and in some ways lonely) characters finding each other. Whether or not this is due to fate or chance is left to our interpretation. Your Name implies that there may be something of both to Mitsuha and Taki’s connection, with the presence of a rare celestial event hovering over their lives and the film. The threads of their story are pulled together slowly, and this image of threads being woven together (both literally and figuratively) is key to what is happening. The result is a richly detailed, vibrant film.
Like all of Shinkai’s work, Your Name is strikingly beautiful. The look of Shinkai’s film are almost always the first things you notice, whether it is the sheer creativity of the worlds brought to life, such as in Children Who Chase Lost Voices, or the detail and attention paid to the water and landscapes, such as in The Garden of Words. In Your Name, it is the falling stars, the twilights and sunsets, and the meeting of water and sky that makes the film so visually stunning. As for the emotional aspect, it is sometimes more difficult to feel an immediate impact. But reflection allows time to absorb the emotion, particularly here of the raw, youthful and deeply meaningful relationship that develops between Mitsuha and Taki. Not without its heart-wrenching moments, Your Name nevertheless leaves you with feelings of warmth and tenderness.
This is the film that is leading many to claim (not without reason) that Shinkai could be anime’s next Miyazaki; perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he is the first Makoto Shinkai. Your Name is unmissable animation, demands repeat viewings, and will linger in your mind many days after you’ve first seen it.
4.5 / 5