Being unfamiliar with Makoto Shinkai’s work, it was interesting to hear from him, as he was present at the screening that his previous films have all been sad but this was different as it was happy. He wanted people to be happy so in a way, he was giving us all an assurance that we wouldn’t be disappointed. Your Name is doing amazingly well in Japan, set to be the fifth highest grossing Japanese film in Japan, which is also encouraging.
There may also be some SPOILERS but not major ones. But just warn you.
Taki, who lives in Tokyo and works as a waiter after school swaps lives with Mitsuha, who lives in a rural town, Itomori, and learns Kumihimo from her Grandmother and continues her duties as Miko, shrine maiden. The swaps begin when a comet passes by, creating amazing views in the sky. But the swaps, although confusing at first, Taki and Mitsuha think they are just dreams. Realising what is happening, they start to work together, trying not to disrupt their lives. They soon start to feel closer to one another and gradually fall in love. But when Taki tries to find Itomori, he discovers that the town was destroyed 3 years previously. He then has to find a way to reach Mitsuha in the past to warn her.
Part body swap, part dreamscape, part time travel, this story takes the best elements of the genres and themes and binds them all together to create a beautifully animated story with characters you really hope find each other again, specially as they go through so much to finally be together.
The story then turn to science fiction and time travel possibilities mixed with myths and legends, basically, it’s a mixture of quite a few things but watching it on screen, everything makes sense. There is the initially lead up to feelings being realized, they are teenagers after all, living very different lives. Through being each other they learn things about their homes, family and friends and grow closer this way. At first they hate each other and ruin things but soon they learn how the swaps work. The first shock or twist is when Taki realizes the time differences and that he may have lost Mitsuha forever.
There are a few sequences in the film where it feels like a music video, particularly the intro. Some things are repeated others are solely for this music interlude, which breaks up the tension towards the end and is an excellent way to ease you into Shinkai’s world.
It’s a fantastical film that marks the first time an animation film was in the official competition category and it definitely deserves the place and honour.