Jan 8, 2017
_Poochyena_ (All reviews)
Music is not a substitute for exposition.

This movie makes the same mistakes 5 Centimeters Per Second did in it's assumption that music can replace or expedite time set apart to develop characters and establish conflict or a climax. By this, I refer to the director's decision to insert loud, obnoxious songs over montages which skim through key, plot progressing events or moments which could provide insight to Taki and Mitsuha's character; scenes which show who they are as people. Not enough time was dedicated to expanding upon their personalities and as a result, I was apathetic towards anything they characters went through. The lack of character exposition affected me in that I could not feel a connection to either Taki or Mitsuha. And it's a sad shame because with two protagonists, a viewer should at least be able to identify with one. Thus is the consequence when a director neglects to develop his characters and spends too much time on art and sound; two factors of a film which matter significantly less than characters and story.

There's a film hierarchy, and here's how it goes:

Story - The meat of the film; the reason the film exists in the first place. Filmmakers are nothing more than storytellers. If the story is not captivating or interesting, the audience won't enjoy the movie.

Characters - These are the actors. The characters are what draw you into the film. When you can relate to a character and envision yourself in their shoes, that is when the Suspension of Disbelief occurs; the moment where you forget you're even watching a film. The characters have to be more than interesting. They must be human. They need flaws and they need strengths to balance them. They must have desires and the ambition to pursue them throughout the film. Multi-faceted characters bring the story to life.

Sound - You can't enjoy a film you cannot hear. This makes sound design very important. A soundtrack can make or break a film. The music must accentuate the scene, not overpower it. The volume and quality of sound effects and character voices all ties into this as well.

Art - Finally, the art or cinematography. It should not be an after thought, but it should not be so important that the aforementioned elements suffer. The way a movie looks affects how the scene is perceived; brighter colors in contrast to dark hues determine the mood or tone of the film. Art is another way to draw a person into the world of the movie but it cannot replace a good story, three dimensional characters, or effective dialogue.

Unfortunately for Kimi no Na Wa, despite it's brilliant and unique story, vivid scenery and colors, and the orchestral soundtrack, the characters lack enough personality to collapse the whole film upon itself. What's worse; by the end, there's very little development. As a matter of fact, by the end it's almost as if the character's have less personality than what they started with. This is a direct consequence of the director's choice to insert a MUSIC VIDEO (AGAIN) in the last 5 minutes of his film. The same mistake he did in 5 Centimeters Per Second. Every second is precious in a film and in those 5 minutes he could have shown a new side of their personal lives, how they were emotionally affected by the events 5 years ago, and how they'd grown as people from the beginning into the people they were now. Any subtle differences to demonstrate that change. It doesn't always have to be something dramatic. Every little detail in a film is supposed to give insight into the real nature of the characters. Instead, every detail in this film pointed towards the high visual budget he had and provided a visually stimulating experience in opposition to an emotionally stimulating one. Because after all, it's hard to feel moved by characters you know next to nothing about.

Story - 10

Art - 10

Sound - 9

Character - 1

Enjoyment - 1

Overall: 6.2