[Anime Review] Your Name (Kimi no Na Wa)

Its only natural that eventually I will want to review Your Name regardless of how late this has been. It has since airing shook every possible anime rankings and once again demonstrates how there are certain subtle feelings that can only be captured and evoked in anime. Its very theme is about astral projections (out-of-body experiences) and longing-ness for discrete transient experiences that stirred up half-awaken purposes.

Plot

In short, a city-raised boy and a countryside girl, the latter longing to live the urban dream, mysteriously started to swap perspectives and consciousness in their sleep without knowing each other. Both communicate by leaves notes in each other’s notebook and device, and eventually set out to seek each other out, but have to reconcile a major difference: time and space.

It is clear that the film is straight-up romance and there is only two way this can go: Taki and Mitsuha end up together, or not. The latter way of ending it will be…still quite good, but it will just make it an average slice-of-life anime, where reality sinks in and the characters sighs cest la vie. Your Name takes on the first route where there is only one obstacle to that: the very separation by the fabric of space-time. Guided by forces from the Shinto religion and New Age spirituality, the two main characters grasp at whatever traces they have of each other, going through rituals, face a natural (or supernatural) disaster, and eventually hope to find each other in life.

Themes

“Kimi no Na wa” conceptualizes love so that its audience does not have to. It leaps over the logic-driven world of actions-have-consequences and hints at hope. The audience can forget that the earth won’t pause to mourn our individual losses or celebrate our achievements; the audience can fall into a fictional story where the universe itself is fighting on the same side that we are rather than remaining on the sideline of absolute apathy. The film allows its audience to participate in a leap of faith and discard logical inconsistencies and ambiguities. “Kimi no Na wa” realizes what most humans cling onto deep down: if something is meant to be, the world cares enough that it will make it happen.

-from Lucy Zhang’s review

I am not a subscriber to the idea of souls and fate, but I am surprised to find myself to be THIS impressed. It is likely due to the overall production and execution of the anime film was close to flawless. I could describe these feelings associated with the idea of ‘fated soulmate’ as serendipity, that pleasant random encounter. The appreciation for the sheer improbability of an event and its development. That feeling was intensified at the very ending itself, and just left an echoing ‘wow’ in me for some time. Again, religion and spirituality being a key plot device is not something that I personally appreciate, but for Your Name it almost did not bother me at all. The religious. linguistic, and spiritual symbols here connect to each other seamlessly, and it made the film even more satisfying to watch.

Music and Illustration

I don’t even have the right words to comment. Makoto Shinkai’s characteristic usage of vivid, almost dreamlike colors just make me feel glad that this is not the last time I will see them. Just Google ‘discrete anime wallpapers/art’ and imagine them being backgrounds for anime or any film at all. Your Name is one of the most visually satisfying piece of art I have ever witnessed. I also noticed that the movements and mannerisms of the characters, along with the physics, are rather fluid and life-like, which is another plus. Not only that, the transitions from one character perspective and dialogue to another is brilliantly thought out.

Music-wise, it is less of the relaxing or the deep-feels-let-me-tell-you-my-life-story piano-jazz property like my other favorites, but more on the lighter, cheerful, short-story side. It is still outstanding nonetheless, especially in terms of complementing the characters and scenes.

Characters

Life-like, imperfect, real, relatable.

I like the fact that both Taki and Mitsuha become better (more popular, higher value) during their body swaps. But it shows that everyone’s character strengths surface in different ways, which is a very assuring thought to have. There isn’t much time to develop any character aside from the two mains, which is a shame, but ultimately Your Name is just a film, not an anime series. The whole of the film is more than the sum of the individuals’ development.

Overall

Your Name is one of those very few anime that I only have good things to talk about. If one can set aside their wanting to parse apart the logic that builds the plot (which will make the experience less satisfying), but embrace the human desire of fate siding with them, Your Name will send you on a therapeutic emotional roller coaster.  Personally, one of my bigger regrets is that I failed to catch this when it was aired on cinema screens. It was only until recently that I watched The Shape of Voice in the cinema, where I come to realize how much I missed out: the amplified emotions from anime due to the heightened display quality and music.

I can only imagine how Your Name would have looked.

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