Your Name. is Makoto Shinkai’s latest film, having premiered exclusively at Anime Expo last summer, then later in Japanese theaters. It steadily become the fourth highest grossing film of all time in Japan and the highest anime in the world wide, even beating out and of Studio Ghibli’s titles!
Mitsuha lives in a rural town in Japan and is sick of her boring life, wishing she were a handsome boy in Tokyo instead. One morning she wakes up inside the body of a boy in Tokyo! Awkwardly figuring out how to go about his normal routine, she leaves clues to figure out who the boy is. When she wakes up in her own body, her friends and family tell her she was acting strange yesterday. She and the Tokyo boy – Taki – have been switching bodies!
The switch happens with sleep, but there is no pattern as to when the switch will take place. Mitsuha and Taki make the most of the weird situation they’ve landed in and set rules and boundaries for when they are living the other’s life. They leave each other notes in notebooks and phone journals to log what the other had done for the day to keep their stories straight. Mitsuha meddles in Taki’s love life, while Taki works his magic in getting popular at school.
For weeks the switch happens, and then suddenly it stops. Perplexed, Taki leaves Tokyo to find Mitsuha in person, only to discover she comes from a town that was struck by a fragmented comet three years ago. After searching records, and going off the memory of the switch, he travels to the town and the shrine of Mitsuha’s family in hopes of reconnecting their bond.
It works, and he awakens in her body the day before the comet is to strike and formulates a plan with Mitsuha’s friends to evacuate the town. Unsure of the time difference, he decides to go to the shrine to see if Mitsuha had swapped to his body. When he gets to the mountain, they sense each other’s presence, though separated by time. At twilight they appear to each other and in their respective bodies. They decide to write each other’s names on their hands to insure they don’t forget, but the sky becomes dusk and Mitsuha disappears before she can write on Taki’s.
Memories of Taki fading, Mitsuha remembers the urgency of the comet and goes to finish evacuating the town. On her hand is written ‘I love you’.
The comet strikes and Taki wakes up, unsure of if anyone survived or, if they did, where they were.
Five years pass and Taki sees Mitsuha during his commute and he chases her through the city until eventually they come to a crossroad and reunite.
My largest complaining about Your Name. is that its time travel element is full of parallels. Always the risk when messing with time! It serves the romantic aspect of the film, and that’s what matters. Aside from that, it’s not clear as to why the switch happens. It’s said that it’s part of Mitsuha’s family, but is mentioned so briefly, it feels like an underdeveloped idea. What is the purpose of the body switching if it’s something that has been in the family line for generations? I’ve watched the film both subbed and dubbed and neither brought conclusion to it.
Your Name. is a visually and emotionally beautiful film. It’s filled with Makoto Shinkai’s tropes – love across the stars, gorgeous backgrounds, music, and a twist on the side. Radwimps does the theme songs and scores and it works so well and feels very incomplete.
I enjoyed both the sub and dub. The only thing that was really lost on the dub was the male/female pronoun jokes. Micheal Sinterniklaas is one of my favorite voices of recent, so I was quite pleased to have him around as Taki.
If you get the chance, please watch Your Name. and bring some tissues.