Apr 8, 2017
Zechrx (All reviews)
Your Name is a romance drama with a mild fantasy element that explores gender roles, traditional vs modern Japan, and what it means to share a connection with someone. It starts this journey through the body swap mechanic. Taki and Mitsuha switch bodies for a day when they go to sleep a few times a week. They initially think it is a dream but then realize they are connected to another person. This motif of a dream becomes an important theme throughout. (Mild spoilers)

The first part concerns itself with the daily lives they go through in the process of falling in love. They attempt to communicate with each other and establish some ground rules (which Taki often subverts in comedic moments of self-touching in Mitsuha’s body). Mitsuha is naturally very timid, and Taki is quick to anger. Swapping bodies gradually changes them, as Mitsuha becomes more assertive and Taki more gentle. Connecting with another person has made them better people. The ending of the first part comes at the moment it is clearly indicated that they have fallen in love. This is arguably also the weakest part of the movie, as the previous daily life scenes didn’t build up any romance between the two. It does, however, show the contrast between their lives well. Mitsuha feels trapped in her traditional role as a shrine maiden for her family, and the youth feel discontent at the lack of entertainment, development, and opportunity. Meanwhile, Taki struggles with juggling both work and school in a single parent household in Tokyo. The grass is always greener on the other side, but both ultimately want to return to their own lives too.

The middle concerns their search for each other after they can no longer swap. Here we see how much the swap has influenced Taki, as he has become good at drawing architecture from his memories of Mitsuha’s town. Their memories of each other are fading, much like waking up from a dream. There comes a climactic moment when Taki realizes that it is impossible for them to meet, and it is accompanied by a frightening loss of memory. His desperation to save those memories and his will to go on despite losing them show the depth of his feelings. Beautiful landscapes accompany some of the emotional scenes in this part, and Radwimps really got the feel down with their country-ish rock songs. Taki finally takes drastic action to reconnect, and the connection of the history of a certain event and the family of shrine maidens is made clear in a brilliant “aha!” moment.

In the final part, Taki tries one last time to save Mitsuha from her fate. It’s interesting to see the interactions between the side characters here, but the main highlight of the “saving” act is when Taki and Mitsuha meet. A certain act in the past is revealed, and everything ties together in a beautiful emotional moment that fades from their memory like a dream. After the crisis, everyone moves on with their lives, not remembering the other or what happened, but still holding onto their feelings such that they search for the other. By this point, I sympathize greatly with Taki and Mitsuha’s tension every time they pass by each other. They are always just missing each other and afraid to connect. They don’t even remember each other’s names. Shinkai pulls off a wonderful ending at the staircase that shows the depth of their bond despite losing their memories, an ending that truly embodies “Your Name.”

The greatest strengths of this movie, besides its spectacular visuals and music, is in its characters. They feel like real, flawed people with hopes and dreams. I even sympathized with the side characters like Takashi. The one shot inside of his room following conversations with Sayaka and his dad encapsulated exactly what future he wanted and how he probably felt. The movie builds sympathy for the main characters early on with them trying to deal with their daily realities. Mitsuha strives to be a modern girl in Tokyo but still deals with her family duties as a shrine maiden. Taki has a crush on Ms. Ogudera at first, but it seems to him an unrequited love, and he shows up to work at the same place as her despite his awkwardness. When combined with the dramatic efforts in the later parts, the connection to not only the characters but their lives and environment is firmly established. The one weakness was the rather flimsy process of falling in love. All in all, Your Name is a masterpiece just shy of flawlessness.