The story is set one month after a comet has fallen for the first time in a thousand years in Japan. Mitsuha, a high school girl living in the countryside, wants to live in the city because she is tired of life in the country. Then, there's Taki. He's a high school student living in Tokyo with his friends while working as a part-timer at an Italian restaurant. He also has a strong interest in fine arts involving architecture. One day, Mitsuha dreams of herself as a young man. On the other hand, Taki also has a dream where he is a female student attending high school in the countryside. What's the secret behind their dreams?
I watched this film at Anime Expo 2016 Los Angeles. I'll try to keep my review as spoiler-less as possible.
The film holds true to all the expectations of a Makoto Shinkai production, from heartfelt smiles to crying the 5th time within the last 30 minutes. His signature metaphorical use of trains, the idea of a hopeless and distant love, and beautiful scenery really dive you emotionally into the story, even for how generic and simple it may seem.
The story is fairly simple to understand, and very easy to guess where the story will head while watching the film. It warrants a 7 simply because I felt a lack of surprise going through the film. Be this as it may, I am also a 4 year long film major, and having seen and analyzed film tropes in an educational environment, I am confident to say that I am more proficient at guessing most stories than your typical average Joe. However, this does not take away from my overall score which I shall highlight later.
As expected of a Makoto Shinkai film, the artwork is beautiful. The production quality is off the charts. The art in itself is enough to evoke tears, as it did for me during even the trailer. His choice of colors and use of movement and focus within the frame really help you pay attention to what you need to pay attention to, while also not skimping out and leaving out detail if your eyes do decide to stray, which I recommend you do while watching any Makoto Shinkai film for every blur, light flare, and particle floating along the screen really do add incredible amounts of emotion to the scene/screen. Among my friends we consider most Makoto Shinkai films as "5 Wallpapers per Second" and for good reason.
Granted I watched this film in an auditorium with hundreds of people, I can't give an accurate score as of writing this review. I don't know who did the music for the film, but during the Q&A Panel held with Shinkai, he mentioned that he messaged one of his favorite bands that he was working on a film, and wanted them to do the music, to which they said yes.
The music was done by the band RADWIMPS, a Japanese rock/alternative rock band. Some people have come to me asking whether or not this took away from the cinematic or emotional feel of the film, but in my opinion it helped in a way characterize the characters of Mitsuha and Taki. Rock music carries with it a sense of youth. Bringing that youthful feeling to the film's soundtrack helps to establish the sense of naivety to the characters and their interactions. It really helps establish the characters as teenagers who don't know or care about right from wrong, but rather would do what they feel in their heart is the right thing to do, which is exactly what motivates Mitsuha and Taki in their adventure.
I wouldn't say I have much of a complaint about main characters Taki and Mitsuha. We all can relate to the high school phase of our lives, it appeals to us because stories we read or watch in books or films set on characters that are going through this remind us of our own springtime of youth. Shinkai did a good job at portraying them and their relationships. My main gripe is that I feel they weren't explored enough to feel a strong sense of emotional attachment. Their lives, personalities, traits, habits, friends, lifestyles, etc are all explored in the first ~20 minutes, I personally felt that we only skimmed the surface of these characters and are forced to go further into the shallow end of a pool, only hoping that it gets deeper to actually swim around in this world of possibilities. I wanted to laugh, cry, and even relate more with the characters, but I felt that I only read about them in a story, or saw them in a film (which I did).
I wanted to feel they could have actually existed, but the film seems to be a bit too reliant on cliche tropes to incite certain emotions. The feeling I felt is similar to seeing characters smiling and laughing with each other, and having to individually accept that this is enough to establish their inner motivations, time spent together, individual goals, etc. I felt like it wasn't enough, and just had to accept that Taki and Mitsuha were the way they were. It felt sometimes that their actions were baseless and lacking a strong motivation to be deserving of the emotion the characters poured into their actions. As if acting on a limb to do something as insane as climbing a mountain alone. I will admit that this can be disputed, however, as they are still children/teenagers, and we all do weird things for no reason growing up.
As little as I felt I delved into the personalities of the characters, I did enjoy the film a lot. Shinkai's metaphorical use of trains just continuing to go along their routes that diverge in several ways really applies in this film, as much as it did in 5 Centimeters per Second. Everyone's lives diverge in different ways, things happen in dreams and are forgotten the next day, things happen in reality and are forgotten over a lifetime. I enjoyed Taki's and Mitsuha's struggles throughout the film to help each other, and as much as it made me well up tears in my eyes, I enjoyed his questioning of how much our memories make up who we are. read more
An absolutely stunning masterpiece by Makoto Shinkai.
Edit: I watched this at the World Premier in Los Angeles on July 3rd. It was released in Japanese theaters on August 26th. It is set to be streamed online (for north america) via funimation, hopefully within the next month or so.
Spectacular animation. There is one particular scene near the beginning which has a sort of "3D camera rotation" that looks so real that I thought it was rendered; but at the last second, the character turned their head, and I was able to tell that it had been entirely hand-drawn. There are scenes where basic physics are completely altered, yet they managed to make it 100% smooth, dragging me along through the character's experience.
Characters. Due to the movie format, most of the characters had very simple personalities. The depth of the characters was sacrificed for the overarching story, ultimately leading to the main characters having deeper personalities, with the side characters left behind. Don't be confused though. For the format, the character depth that they managed to convey was incredible. Small hints were blended into many scenes, discretely conveying the characters' backgrounds and personalities.
Sound. The depth of the musical score was incredible, though I will need to re-watch it with my usual headphones before committing fully. There was not a single sound that felt out of place. All the characters' voices suited their appearances, leading to a very immersive experience.
Story. The story is conceptually very simple, but a lot of depth is added as the story goes on. The show drives several important points, which can be very philosophical, without being too complicated for the average viewer to understand. Additionally, none of the story is sacrificed in order to drive these ideas, they are inseparably blended together.
Impact. During the show, I laughed, and I cried. Now don't get me wrong, that's a big deal. At the time of writing, only two other anime have made me cry. Also, I was at the premier, and thus out in public; I certainly wasn't the only one. Please don't approach this anime lightly. It's truly an experience that you can never forget.
Timing. During the movie, there is a sequence where two characters get to know each other, which felt slightly rushed. It could have been better to have the full experience played out, or at least pieces of it, lengthening the movie as required.
World building. The depth of the story and characters took a toll on the world's completeness, leaving some unanswered questions. Most characters didn't have worldviews or ideas of right vs wrong, there simply wasn't time to develop them. Also, where the world came from, and what the ending implies for the world itself, is left unanswered.
-- I wrote this review immediately after leaving the premier. I will continue and edit it after I have had time to process the movie's depth.read more
Review of "Your Name."
Directed, Written, and Created by Makoto Shinkai
"Your Name." is, in a word, a journey. A journey into what will surely be the future of cinematography, as well as a journey on a grand emotional roller coaster.
Technically speaking, labeling this film a "masterpiece" is an insult by omission. Given that Shinkai is a master, anything he makes is obviously going to be a "masterpiece," but among silt there is gold, and among gold there may be diamonds. This movie is a diamond, easily the prettiest feature length film I've ever seen; more so than even fetishistic attempts to be just that such as Samsara.
Feats of the cinematography include impossibly vibrant and dynamic crowds, animation that is outstanding even among his other works-nay-ESPECIALLY among his other works, match cuts that would make Kubrick jealous, impeccable blocking, usage of the golden ratio in memory of Akira Kurosawa, domicile camera work reminiscent of Yasujiro Ozu (and Tokyo Story in particular), and ellipses reminiscent of the late Satoshi Kon. I'd also like to add that this film featured GENIUS uses of animation to do what I can only describe as Buster Keaton esque "impossible gags" and I am CERTAIN he must have spent many months studying the godfathers of cinema to have POSSIBLY seen the seeds for this type of genius cinematography.
Worthy of particular praise is the editing, and ESPECIALLY the sound design. Immediately, I was slammed by how immersive the atmosphere was. The music is so successfully integrated and the sound so visceral that you can't tell where your internal pace starts and where the score starts having its way with you. As the film progresses, the movie integrates full, soulful rock songs by the Radwimps (my favorite Jrock band, btw). Appearantly, Shinkai and the Radwimps worked together for more than 18 months as they constantly modified and worked on the audio of the film, as early back as letting the cuts and rythym of the storyboards dictate every aspect of the COMPLETELY ORIGINAL SCORE.
Make no mistake in correlating beauty and technical marvel with lack of emotional range, as this is Shinkais funniest film to date by A HUGE MARGIN, as well as the saddest, happiest, most dramatic, suspenseful, philosophical... this film is a superlative in every sense of the word.
Now, on the topic of the plot, it is not that I won't spoil the movie for you, it is that I genuinely cannot. Much like how Inception cannot truley be summarized, this film cannot truley be summarized. It contains complexity exceeding that which I thought truley impossible while maintaining any kind of narrative. And it not only maintains narrative, it DRAGS you nose first on the wildest emotional journey I've ever experienced. And it does so using an unprecedentedly real approach to subject matter too long fixtured to the perverse and otherwise absurd. I never thought the plot device he used was even capable of being used classily, but holy CRAP I was wrong.
The story is full of foreshadowing, "Iceburg effects", and such personal and visceral tradgedy the likes of which I've only seen described by Shakespeare.
The Wachowski's "Cloud Atlas" was a similar film to this one in a few regards (AND ONLY A FEW). Both have unprecedented scope, the likes of which are so human and so emotionally intimate that one would think the story doomed to the uncanny valley of unsympathetic characters. "Your Name." Succeeds where cloud atlas failed.
Layers of meta narrative and copious amounts of immersive shoehorning will glue you to your seat like an unblinking tear fountain.
Before the film, Shinkai said to the audience "I finished making this film 4 days ago" and I believe this absolutely. Not because the film felt rushed (because it didn't), but because I genuinely believe that there is nothing left he could have done to improve this movie in any way.
-40 minutes of my convention time compulsively writing this review
-The TOP of my reccomendation list
You get it all, Mr Shinkai. You earned it.read more
“Kimi no Na wa.” (Your Name) opens with a radiant comet traversing over the night sky, splitting apart into various meteors that illuminate and streak the heavens. Stars and celestial imagery often feature in Makoto Shinkai’s films, and the brilliance of the opening set piece could be dismissed as eye-candy. However, its significance is not fully understood until much later.
To speak of names, one does not invoke Makoto Shinkai in conjunction with the phrase “happy ending.” To say that he has made his fame off producing romance anime is only half the story, as his work’s exploration of themes such as distance and unrequited love often impart a wistful and bittersweet aftertaste. “Byousoku 5 Centimeter” (5 Centimeters per Second), his most famous title to date, is both loved and reviled for its directorial willingness to defy the sort of resolution that viewers have come to expect out of the romance genre.
While “Kimi no Na wa.” continues to incorporate motifs and concepts familiar to past Shinkai works, it reflects a maturation of his artistic vision to tell a tale of love and determination that transcends time, distance, and even apocalyptic odds.
The film centers on two characters, Mitsuha Miyamizu – a schoolgirl in rural Japan who dreams of going to the city, and Taki Tachibana, an aspiring architectural student in Tokyo. With the passing of a rare comet, the two start imagining out of body experiences in which their consciousness swaps with each other while they sleep and dream. This leads to no shortage of comedic moments, as the two characters take turns exploring and manipulating their alternate lives – and bodies. As the nature of their dreamlike, out of body experiences is revealed, the two resolve to meet each other. But in their attempt to do so, a dark truth of their relationship emerges, accelerating the story and replacing the comedic elements with a suspenseful quest to find each other and ultimately, race against time. “Kimi no Na wa.” weaves a complex, multilayered narrative that explores the struggle of human emotions against fate. You can feel Mitsuha and Taki’s determination, confusion, and desperation as they toil against temporal reality, a journey that leaves viewers equal parts thrilled and emotionally exhausted.
Makoto Shinkai reaffirms his place at the forefront of animation, as the film’s stunning backgrounds and fluid motion easily make this one of the most visually ambitious anime of the past year. Superb art direction and character designs with the assistance of Masayoshi Tanaka (AnoHana, Toradora, KokoSake) give the film a modern, colorful aesthetic.
Though some might be repelled or jaded by segments that feel like emotional manipulation – especially when considering Shinkai’s past filmography – “Kimi no Na wa.” succeeds in delivering an engrossing experience, complete with magnificent set pieces, laughs, and heart-wrenching, gripping drama. This film — the culmination of Shinkai’s skill in exploring the melancholy aspects of love and distance, is just as much a lesson on the value of finding happiness through unshakeable resolve, initiative, and overcoming doubt and hesitation. read more