Written and directed by Makoto Shinkai (5 Centimeters Per Second and Journey To Agartha), Your Name is a stunning Japanese anime that features the voice talents of Mone Kamishiraishi (Wolf Children) and Ryûnosuke Kamiki (Summer Wars).
Mitsuha (Kamishiraishi) is a schoolgirl who lives in a village on the rim of a large crater out in the countryside. Frustrated at her limited options, the quiet, and her responsibilities as a ‘shrine girl’ who must partake in and lead rituals that embarrass her in front of her schoolfriends, she dreams of being a good-looking teenage boy in Tokyo.
Her dream comes true when she awakes one morning in the body of Taki (Kamiki), a hardworking highschooler with a quick temper and a huge crush on a waitress at the restaurant he waits tables in. At first afraid, Mitsuha soon embraces her time as Taki – softening his reputation, and spending his earnings on cake splurges with his friends in the coffee shops she has always wanted to visit. “Taki”’s sudden feminine side also bags him a date with the object of his affections.
When Taki gets his body back the next day he is confused and muddles through until the next morning he wakes to find himself inhabiting the body of Mitsuha. Once he manages to pull himself away from his new boobs he begins to embrace his time in this stranger’s body – his short fuse and fiery reactions quelling mean girls and Mitsuha’s father, the Mayor.
The first hour of Your Name revels in the pair’s experiences as each other, and as Mitsuha and Taki begin to leave each other diary entries to loop each other in to what they have been up to in each other’s skin they grow curious about each other, beginning to care and fall in love. This back and forth body-swapping comedy is effortlessly juggled by Shinkai, and as well as being incredibly funny, leaves us ridiculously emotionally invested in the youngsters and whether they will be able to meet up - and how.
The answer lies in the reappearance of a comet that only passes us every 1200 years, and a gut-wrenching reveal that seems to leave their meeting and future in grave jeopardy. Your Name here twists into a beautiful mystery-solving, world-saving road trip movie that feels like your very soul is riding on the outcome.
If you are familiar with anime, it feels a lot like Patema Inverted filtered through The Girl Who Leapt Through Time; and if you are not this is a great entry point. The art style frequently loosens the hinges of the jaw, while the romance at stake is both feel-good and cry-loads at the same time. Your Name is a film that at times feels like it is fixing you, and this is augmented by wonderful soundtrack work by RADWIMPS. The band take responsibility for both a pair of catchy and fitting bookending indie emo pop songs, and a deft and delicate orchestral score that swells and breaks in sync with your heart.
A super cute hankie-wringing, star cross’d body swap romance, and a study in time, memories and love.