Your Name.

Your Name. ★★★★★

Watching my family experience this movie for the first time was nothing short of magical, and reminded me why I love it so much in the first place. Some have accused Shinkai of style over substance, but in this case, the style creates the substance. Why? Because first and foremost, this is a film that articulates and exemplifies divine beauty and indescribable feelings that only imagery and visuals can evoke. The way a meteor falling through the sky can be both beautiful and terrifying, tragic and poetic, destructive and spiritual, at the same time. The splendor and artistry of the untouched natural world, from sunsets and forests to lakes and falling leaves, that something inside us all just knows must be worthy of respect and wonderment. The impressiveness of human achievement and technology and city life. The way the two can (and should) work together to make something even better.

It's a movie about the forgotten memories and emotions you experienced when you were younger that now briefly materialize as shadows and figments in your head, like the beach-house I used to visit as a kid that I'll probably never see again, even though I still remember how the carpet smelled and the sheets on the bed felt against my pajamas. Like my great-aunt and the jokes she would tell before she died. Like the plays my dad directed that I (reluctantly) attended at age 5 and only remember fragments of now. This movie is wish-fulfillment, a beautiful fantasy about reaching out and finding those things you thought were lost into the depths of your memory and heart.

It's also about love. I must confess, for much of my life, I've always been a little torn between two sides of my own personality; in some ways, I'm a total romantic, and in others, I'm more of a realist. Many movies I watch sway one way or the other, which is fine. But one of the reasons I love Your Name so much is that it satisfies both sides of my head: the romantic and the realist. This is, in many ways, a movie about lovers destined to be together, bound by a cord of fate and meant to find each other in the end. In a sense, they're soul mates. And I love that. But it's also a film about how, in all honesty, you can love anyone when you see what their life is like firsthand and walk around in their shoes. When you appreciate what they've been through to become the person they are today and the struggles they still face, and see the beauty in their life that maybe even they might have missed. Maybe Mitsuha and Taki were fated to be together and fall in love from the start. Or maybe they're just two special people who, through divine or magical intervention, saw firsthand what made the other's life beautiful and had to fall for each other because of what they had been through and seen with their own eyes. The ambiguity there makes the movie that much more nuanced and transcendent for me.

As a Christian (and bear with me here), one of the things I find most beautiful about Your Name is actually the way it intertwines the Shinto religion into its subtext and meaning. The beliefs about time and the way divine spirituality transcends it, the importance of tradition and ancestors, the symbolic and spiritual significance of nature. One of the quotes that comes to mind whenever I watch this film is from CS Lewis, but it's not one that many other Christians ever seem to bring up, because it makes the entire meaning of the Gospel that much more complicated. CS Lewis said in a letter from 1952, "I think that every prayer which is sincerely made even to a false god, or to a very imperfectly conceived true God, is accepted by the true God and that Christ saves many who do not think they know him. For He is (dimly) present in the good side of the inferior teachers they follow." In other words, where there is Truth and Beauty, God is there too - even if people know him by a different name. If God is Love and God is Goodness and God is Peace, then wherever those things truly manifest, He manifests too. Even, perhaps, in parts of Shinto belief. I am not a universalist. I don't believe "every religion ultimately points to the same God" or "all religions are the same" or "right and wrong are in the eyes of the beholder." In general, there's a lot about religion and spirituality that I'm willing to admit I just don't have an answer for. But I do believe that God is present in far more places and belief systems than most western, conservative, white evangelical Christians ever give Him credit for. And Your Name is a film that gives me an appreciation for the beauty of the Shinto religion and some of the things it has that western Christianity just doesn't; or at least, doesn't articulate nearly as well in today's age.

This is *the* most impeccable blend of animation and music I've ever witnessed onscreen. If the animation assigns imagery to the emotional beauty, the music gives a voice to it. Never before have the two artforms complimented each other so well. If you haven't watched Your Name, I highly recommend you do it on the biggest screen you have, subtitled, and with no distractions. Ask any hardcore anime fan, and they'll likely tell you that stunning animation aside, this probably isn't the greatest anime movie ever made, and has been overhyped by many. And they're probably right. But this is undoubtedly the anime movie that means the most to me. It's the rare, beautiful experience of a film that sticks with you long after the credits roll and offers poetic meaning to daily life in a way not much else does. I love it with all my heart.

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