Friday, April 21, 2017

Your Name review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: **** out of 4
Mitsuha (right) and Taki (left) in Makoto Shinkai’s latest anime feature, Your Name

            Screw my cutoff dates, I need to talk about this movie! The latest Japanese anime feature by filmmaker, Makoto Shinkai (Voices of a Distant Star, Children Who Chase Lost Voices, The Garden of Words), Your Name is not only one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year but quite possibly one of the best anime films I have ever seen, Yeah, I’m going there.
            It’s not often a non-Studio Ghibli anime movie hits me in the feels so much and keeps me emotionally invested all throughout the film. Your Name is so beautifully told, the characters are so strong, the risqué Japan style humor is refreshingly funny, and the emotional drama is executed so flawlessly I almost forgot Hayao Miyazaki’s production company didn’t make this movie.
            I went to see the movie in its original Japanese language and it had me hooked from beginning to end. The language helps make the characters seem much more alive than an English dub despite being animated characters, and in addition to the artistic background designs and Japan culture, it feels like I’ve gotten lost in an anime Japan world.
            The film follows two teenagers, Itomori girl, Mitsuha Miyamizu (voiced by Mone Kamishiraishi-Wolf Children) and Tokyo boy, Taki Tachibana (voiced by Ryunosuke Kamiki-Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Summer Wars) who are complete strangers living separate lives in Japan, not once have they ever met. Until one day the two of them mysteriously switch places, Mitsuha wakes up in Taki’s body and he in hers.
             The body swapping seems to happen at random and Mitsuha and Taki must adjust their lives around each other. The two of them build a strong connection, communicate by writing notes for each other, and more importantly an imprint.
            When a comet strikes, something shifts and Mitsuha and Taki seek each other out wanting something more, a chance to meet in person. But as they try something more daunting than a long distance prevents them from seeing each other.
            Overall, Your Name is a perfect cinematic experience, can’t think of any problems with this film. The characters are developed very well and the best part is you CARE about them and want to see them together in the end, the hand-drawn animation is stellar and really makes Japan pop, and gives computer animation the finger (DISCLAIMER: I have nothing against computer animation but it’s so refreshing to see an animated movie that doesn’t need it).
            The humor is definitely more risqué than most PG-rated movies these days and certainly not America’s idea for PG-rated humor. References to sex, boobs, even scenes involving boobs being squeezed, I can safely say this is a PG rating that actually means something.
            On paper the story sounds like a typical teen melodrama, but let me tell you, the emotional drama of this film is unbelievable. The first act is pretty light and fluffy in tone but the second and third acts of this movie had some of the most tear-dropping moments I’ve ever experienced in an anime movie, characters experience death, time travel to prevent some future catastrophe, and the two characters forgetting each other’s names, haven’t felt like this since When Marnie Was There.
            The more I watched the dramatic aspects of the film, the more I realized this is the kind of material I look for in great anime. Emotional connections with its characters and following them on their journey, I could care less if a Sailor Moon character died (Buy your torches and pitchforks here!) but a character in something like this is enough to get me crying, I’m dead serious.
            Your Name is a thoughtful, beautiful, and emotional journey from beginning to end that will be impossible for me to forget. Thanks to strong characters, thought-provoking storytelling, and drama that hits multiple feelings at the same time, this is one of those movies I can recommend not only to anime and film enthusiasts but everyone.

            Please take some time out of your weekend while you’re waiting for Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 and Star Wars: The Last Jedi and just go to your local art-house theater and see this movie. You won’t regret it, I’ll probably be watching it several more times in the future to guarantee that I will never forget…Uh, what movie am I talking about again?

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