Your Name emphatically proves hand drawn animation is not dead and could be one of the best of our era
After my recent foray in watching the original anime version of Ghost in the Shell, I’ll admit I was intrigued by what anime had to offer. As mentioned in a previous review for The Boss Baby, I still wish to see traditionally animated movies instead of the CGI rendered animation we get in the American market. The fact that anime is still hand drawn seems very appealing to me and I hoped to see more of it. The thing is that I’d probably have to take the DVD route, since we don’t get too many cinematic offerings of anime here in the States. This is a shame, since there is a whole world of interesting storytelling to be told visually and creatively through the anime genre. I didn’t know a whole bunch about Your Name when I saw that it was listed at the local art theater. When I saw that it was anime, I jumped at the chance to view it if only because the opportunity doesn’t present itself too often. I was so glad I did.
Back in the late 80’s there was a movie, called Vice Versa, starring Fred Savage and Judge Reinhold that dealt with a father and son swapping bodies. That was a fun movie. Your Name takes the concept to whole new level. Your Name is the story of two high school students, Mitsuha and Taki, who live two very different lives. Mitsuha lives a tradition based lifestyle in the country boonies of rural Japan. Taki lives a modern, faster paced life in the big city metropolis of Tokyo. Unaware of each other’s existence they wake up one day to find themselves in each other’s body. They get to experience that day living in the other person’s body. At first, they brush it off as a dream when they wake up the next day to find everything back to normal. It’s hardly a dream as this strange occurrence repeats itself over and over again. Despite being uncomfortable at first, they are both able to adjust to the situation after several cycles of this. This is done by leaving notes to each other that explain what happened as well as how to act in certain situations. When a comet lights up the sky one night, something changes. Mitsuha and Taki find themselves longing to meet each other. The question is will this ever be possible?
I was absolutely blown away by this movie. The hand drawn animation was simple yet beautiful to behold. It was amplified by the amazing hand painted backgrounds that look like they took hours to make just for a second or two of screen time. Just breathtaking. Your Name is one of the best visually animated movies I’ve ever seen. It’s right up there with Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Kubo and the Two Strings, and Zootopia. It could be better. Not only that but the depth and emotion of the characters is something that doesn’t seem to be easily replicated with live actors. The story is so fascinating. The complexities of the situation they present were almost overwhelming at first, yet magnificently riveting. The soundtrack is quite enjoyable as well. (One should note that there are two versions of this movie, one in traditional Japanese with English subtitles along with one with an English dub. Most American halls with probably be showing the English dub version.)
There were not many things I did not like about this beautiful movie. In fact, the only thing I can think of was that it didn’t spend enough time on the body swapping. Other than that, everything was incredible. I was totally drawn into little details of Japanese culture that are presented such as the food they always seemed to be eating or the different type of humor showcased. This is the type of emotionally moving, sensory satisfying, escapist tale that you just don’t get too often in American cinema. Apparently, this is the 2nd highest grossing domestic film of all time in Japan and the highest grossing anime film in the world ever. There is a reason for this. Fate, love, human connection…it has it all. It’s amazing. No question that this should contend for an Oscar and hopefully it does. If you find out that this is playing in your local theater, I urge you go to watch it. We need more movies like this! I feel it definitely deserves repeat viewings. It could be the best animated movie of 2017.