Your Name

 

starstarstarstarhalf

 


Prepare to be astonished by an animated film from Japan that breaks the usual bounds 

of the genre

 


Your Name

 

Amazing is the only word that describes this film adequately. Thanks to the splendid work done at Studio Ghibli, we have grown accustomed to admiring Japanese animation but Shinkai Makoto's films have emerged separately from theirs and Your Name, the first of his features to be released here, enables us to recognise him as a distinctive talent in no danger of being overshadowed by the likes of Miyazaki.

 

If films from Studio Ghibli have often appealed equally to children and to adults, Your Name seems more directly aimed at an older audience. That's not because it deals with adult themes in the manner of, say, Anomalisa, but on account of the fact that for all its appeal it is a difficult film to follow in detail. Despite that, it has been a huge hit on home ground with young teenagers among the audience, but that may be down to their easier grasp of a tale so strongly Japanese in character. What is certainly clear is the central notion that a boy living in Tokyo, Taki, finds himself sharing the dreams of a country girl, Mitsuha, a fact that leads to them periodically living in each other's body. Each experiences the body swap as akin to a dream and we as viewers often cannot be sure what is indeed merely dream and what a supposed reality.

 

The situation  contains moments of humour, but essentially this is about the experience of finding one's soul mate. However, Shinto spirituality comes into play with time switches involved too, together also with a further plot development that involves the need to try and avert the break-up of a comet that obliterated a town when a meteor fell. The logic as to what is and what is not possible in the world created by Shinkai is sometimes hard to grasp, but it hardly matters. That is due to the fact that in telling his tale (Shinkai is writer, director and editor) the filmmaker displays the acute and genuinely felt romanticism of a Jacques Demy united with the degree of individual imagination that one associates with Charlie Kaufman.  On top of that, there are beautiful visuals and a very effective musical backing from the pop group Radwimps, but what counts above all is that even if some of the plot details confuse us the emotional force - the sense of a great love in danger of being lost to time - communicates directly and stunningly. Unforgettable.

 

Note: this review is based on viewing the subtitled version of this film but it is understood that a dubbed print will also be available.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Voices of: Kamishiraishi Mone, Kamiki Ryunosuke, Yuki Aoi, Ichihara Etsuko, Tani Kanon, Nagasawa Masami, Shimazaki Nobunaga, Narito Ryo, Ishikawa Kaito.

 

Dir Shinkai Makoto, Pro Furasawa Yoshihiro, Screenplay Shinkai Makoto, Ed Shinkai Makoto, Ph Ando Masashi, Animation Dir Ando Masashi, Music Radwimps.

 

Toho Co./CoMix Wave Films Inc.-National Amusements.
106 mins. Japan. 2016. Rel: 18 November 2016. Cert. 12A.