I found myself in an energised audience at the Light House Cinema recently. The film I saw was Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name a movie I can best describe as Freaky Friday meets Doctor Who.
The version I saw was the original Japanese, so Your Name stars Ryunosuke Kamiki and Mone Kamishiraishi who play Taki and Mitsuha respectively. Taki and Mitsuha are two Japanese teenagers from two different worlds; Taki lives in trendy Tokyo while Mitsuha lives out in the sticks in Itomori a small rural town. These two kids have nothing in common until one day they switch bodies. The two protagonists have to figure out how to cope with this startling development and hilarity, romance and much more ensue.
What sells Your Name is the fact that this premise, this Freaky Friday theme is so wonderfully utilised that the silliness of its concept is entirely forgotten within the first twenty minutes of the film. The main reason for this is the marvellous characters littered throughout the movie. Taki is the quintessential Tokyo teen, he hangs out at cafés with his friends, has a huge crush on his boss and hates school. He’s a hothead, but his heart is always in the right place. Mitsuha is a dreamer; she wishes to see Tokyo, get out of Itomori and see the bigger world out there. Sadly she is beholden to an ancient tradition that her family has kept for generations. Her life is monotonous, and she’s looking for a change.
When the element of body switching enters the film in earnest Shinkai employs compelling narrative techniques to engage both the audience and the characters. For example, to communicate with each other Taki and Mitsuha leave messages so that when they switch bodies, the other won’t be out of sync. It’s charming watching the two leads find ways to commune with each other over such a vast distance without ever actually meeting. It makes for some incredible scenes filled with heartache and comedy. On that note, the screenplay of Your Name is refreshingly genuine every interaction feels sincere and original, and that’s what makes the comedy so great. It’s another element that elevates the quality of Your Name.
What shines brightest in Your Name is the cinematography. It is on another level; the scope is astounding, and the choices Shinkai and the animation team made left me in complete awe, and if you’re an animation fan it will do the same for you too.
I loved Your Name; it made me laugh, its original writing felt charming, and I was brought to tears on more than one occasion. If there were any issues it would be in the middle of the film; it needed to be edited and tightened, but that would be it. It is a minor nitpick. Not only that, Your Name has to deal with the prejudice that the majority of cinemagoers may have against anime and animated films that these films are just for kids. They aren’t, and you will have an emotionally enriching experience seeing Your Name at your nearest cinema.
The Light House were kind enough to screen this film for one night, and the Japanese Film Festival have announced that Your Name could return for one more night. Follow the link below and be sure and let the Japanese Film Festival and the Lighthouse know that you want to see this film. I guarantee you won’t regret it.