Your Name. ★★★★★

There are few anime sensations as notable as Your Name. The 2016 film was directed by the then semi-known Makoto Shinkai as his first feature film; it quickly became Japan's fourth most successful film domestically and catapulted Shinkai into the major league. But is it as incredible as it was then when the end of Studio Ghibli was still raw? And can it really compete with one of the world's most loved studios?

It's a familiar story in the surface level of its concept. It follows Taki and Mitsuha, two Japanese high schoolers who end up switching bodies. However, it's unfamiliar in its execution, exploring with humour and seriousness the personal and grand effects of their apparently anomalous exchange, and having this all framed in creative ways.

A major selling point is the visual splendour on display. The environments are truly jaw-dropping, and the characters' awe at landscapes becomes your own. Like with Ghibli, too, you'll be nearly just as amazed by the food as you are the sun-dappled forests. This isn't spectacle just for the sake of it; it enhances the appreciative wonder central to the film's themes.

It's all together stylistically different than nearly anything else out there except, of course, Shinkai's own work. One of the techniques he uses is montage and is this is done in the most charming, emotionally charged way: kinetic visuals, ongoing storytelling, and an invigorating soundtrack make for effective and unforgettable sequences.

Humour is an element that also plays an important part and is there from nearly the start. It's a genuinely funny watch, being warm-hearted, character-driven and fast paced without turning slapstick or silly. The humour serves as hook but also grounds our characters as awkward human beings, making it much easier to connect with them as the drama increases.

There are some grandly fantastical notions which may be a distraction for some people. It could be argued that a key part of the film is the idea of romantic destiny, a notion far from the realism presented by the detail in visuals and characterisation. However, it is a point open to interpretation as there are very few certainties given except, at the core of it all, romance and hope.

There is, indeed, emotional truth in the drama. It doesn't feel like melodrama, the characters written to be rounded, uncertain individuals, their yearning feeling honest because they are believable. Through the characters we get to understand the themes of the film; this being something that speaks to the heart above all else.

It's more lavish than Ghibli and a lot broader in its approach, but it plays on our emotions like My Neighbour Totoro. These multi facets are like those of a diamond; it's a rich experience from every angle. It's a beautifully made artwork, exceptional in its level of heartfelt craftsmanship, one that feels like a classic and, at the very least, warrants several rewatches.

Ceri liked this review