There was a lot of hype surrounding Your Name (or Kimi no Na wa in Japanese), and the level of the buzz seemed to imply – at least, to me – that it’s the best anime movie of 2016. Thus, I was very intrigued. But after getting to watch it for myself, I still can’t fully decide if it’s truly superior to The Boy and the Beast – thus, I can’t say that Your Name is a landslide choice for “best anime movie of the year.” But it does make a good case for it.
Your Name is best watched when one comes in without really knowing anything about it. Thus, if you haven’t seen it yet, then I strongly suggest that you don’t proceed to the next paragraph (just come back when you’ve finally seen it). Though the spoilers are very minimal in this review, the surprises and enjoyment of this movie are significantly increased with the less you know. There are only two things you need to understand before coming into this movie: a.) it’s a teenage love story with science fantasy elements that is emotionally gratifying despite its plot holes and cheesy romance; and b.) it’s a must watch for every professing anime fan.
Your Name is about two strangers living far apart – Taki Tachibana and Mitsuha Miyamazu – who suddenly find themselves mysteriously connected while an upcoming comet is nearing Earth’s vicinity. Taki is a high-school boy living in Tokyo, while Mitsuka is living in the rural town of Itomori. One fateful day, they discovered that they swap bodies at random days. Quickly, they develop guidelines to follow while living each other’s lives. Inevitably, due to such degree of intimate familiarity between them, feelings develop, and they decide to meet in person. However, they discover that doing so is not as easy as it seems.
The premise of the movie reminded me of 2014’s In Your Eyes (if you haven’t watched it yet, do so. It’s a real treat). In Your Eyes was a far deeper film (and, also, more mature). But what’s fantastic with Your Name is the fact that it isn’t dragged down by all the familiar melodramatic clichés and themes of teen romances that it has in its plot. Instead, it tells a love story that cuts deep to the heart in a manner that isn’t cheap. It’s amazing how the movie is able to utilize seemingly superficial ingredients into making an overall beautiful, thought-provoking product.
The pacing of the movie is great, though I felt it could have probably benefited more if it had been longer – its story expanded across the length of a mini-series. The narrative is riveting all throughout, and is significantly pleasing enough to make its obvious plot holes easily forgivable. Also, the plot twists are done well (though I kind of predicted that something along those lines was going to happen).
But most importantly, its storytelling builds anticipation and tension quite well, that the emotional rush of their release is oh so good! This movie thoroughly brings the feels, particularly in its final act, up to its closing minutes, that it put a lump in my throat and made me teary-eyed.
Earlier, I mentioned that I can’t say that Your Name is objectively superior to The Boy and the Beast. I think the latter is a tad better crafted and more thoughtful overall than the former. However, as far as what’s the more impactful and satisfying watch, Your Name is my pick.