brando’s review published on Letterboxd:
Watching this film again on the big screen is something that breathes spectacular new life into this animated masterpiece, an experience that is as breathtaking and heartbreaking as that very first watch.
Even with a dub that falters at times, Shinkai's visual storytelling and unorthodox script manage to evoke the cathartic emotions that his film intended.
Surprisingly, even the English dub of the soundtrack was serviceable. As someone who watched the original film without subtitles of the soundtrack, it was a pleasant surprise to hear the lyrics of the songs of the film actually complementing it and making certain scenes more poignant.
On my third rewatch, the film hasn't lost a single drop of its heartfelt magic, effortlessly managing to grip my heartstrings and pluck them with tuned precision.
Your Name is currently on a limited run by Funimation. Please support it and view it at a cinema near you, and check out my full review below.
I want to die. Every single one of Makoto Shinkai's films manages to blossom a knot of pain and longing deep in my heart. The Japanese director, responsible for other hit anime films such as 5 Centimeters per Second and Garden of Words, has a penchant for weaving stories involving star-crossed lovers being separated by time and/or circumstance and simultaneously makes me rethink my life.
And damn, he never fails to deliver.
Kimi no Na wa, or more commonly, Your Name, starts off by telling the story of two high schoolers, one residing in the urban sprawl of Tokyo and one in the lakeside small town of Itomori, who begin switching bodies à la Freaky Friday. In the process the two intimately learn about not only each other's lives, but their own as well as they slowly begin to develop feelings for one another.
Already from the premise of the story, Shinkai delivers a story that's wholly unique, a sort of romance that I've never seen before. But as unique and entertaining as this gimmick is, it's in the way the film, its narrative, and its themes are presented that truly captured me.
As per usual Shinkai fare, the hand-drawn animation aspect of the film is breathtakingly beautiful. Once again the director proves himself of being an auteur of this dying artform, with absolutely gorgeous moving still-lifes, character movements, and establishing shots. Every single animation cel is brimming with detail and vibrant color. Although the film is understandably not as packed with detail as his previous ventures such as Garden of Words due to the longer running time and budget constraints, Shinkai still manages to construct a vibrant, immersive, and staggering world.
I could go on and on about the production values and Shinkai's excellent direction, but the true meat and beauty of the film is in the storytelling.
The film flows so perfectly from its more lighthearted first half to the somber, more serious latter half. It establishes the characters well, their dynamics with the people around them, and how the two main protagonists feel about themselves and each other. It paints swaths and layers as subtle as the small Miyazakiesque elements present within the animation.
Reflecting the film's core themes about time and the threads of fate, the way the story is told is sometimes hazy and fast, some details slipping past our minds until the final act, beautifully emulating the loss of memories of something and someone important. It's equally moving as it is frustrating. Between every major act, Shinkai implements almost a music video quickly intercutting between the two protagonists' lives, proving himself to be a master of the montage.
The information relayed in these quick yet poignant sequences is done so that it perfectly reflects the passage of time as well as succeeds in telling the audience exactly what we need to know. The editing is nigh perfect, flowing with the rhythms of overlaid dialogue as well as the visual rhythms of the still-lifes themselves. The mellow lyrics sung by the J-rock band Radwimps serves almost like the choral odes preceding the acts in a Greek tragedy.
This unconventional mode of storytelling, coupled with Shinkai's signature animation as well as a rousing score (also composed by Radwimps), successfully kept me engaged as well as throwing me off its scent. When it comes to anime films, I'm always looking for certain tropes, and yes, though some of them might exist in this, I never saw them coming. The character beats were as heartbreaking as they were unpredictable, their feelings tangible, almost as if they were my own.
Personally, as was the case with Shinkai's previous work of 5 Centimeters per Second, I was deeply affected by this film's poignant themes of love and fate. There were moments that exploded with sentiments and emotions that had been led up to by sequences of subdued feelings and memories, paced perfectly in a way that almost emulates how a heartbreak or a moment of revelation in real life is the cumulative result of several smaller ones. This film touched me in ways that hurt yet made me feel more human. I spent a good amount of time wanting to cry, but found myself inside choking back on a strange, cathartic pain that welled up inside of my chest.
Albeit its more fantastical elements, Your Name paints a relatable portrait of young love in all of its raw, passionate dedication, yet in its more finer strokes details the complexities involved with learning more about yourself within another. It succeeds to convey the message that 2014's Insterstellar failed to: that love is the one thing that we're capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space.
In retrospect, this film is a gorgeous testament to not only romantic intimacy, but human connections in relation with time. This theme of interconnectedness and intimacy against the very elements of the universe is heavily reflected within the film's narrative and structure, something wholly unique and beautiful. It may be an acquired taste for people who are not familiar with the medium of Japanese animation, but it is definitely not something to be missed.
Your Name deserves all the praise it has received. It's a testament to the unstoppable intimate connection between people, the connection that bursts through any constraints society or even the universe places upon them, simultaneously haunting as it is impactful. It will be remembered as one of animation's finest achievements.