I’m out of my depth here. I have no frame of reference. Your Name is the first animated Japanese film I’ve seen, an absolutely shameful admission but there we go. Or it could be that I’ve seen many hundreds of them before but the strands of time have twisted and now I can no longer remember. Such things are possible in the world of Your Name. A rather beautiful, definitely cool and altogether wonderful world to visit.
Mitsuha is bored in her provincial world, namely the village of Itomori. Her wish to live her next life as a handsome boy from Tokyo is half-granted when she and Taki (a handsome boy from Tokyo) begin to experience mind swaps, each living a period of time in the other’s body. The kicker being that neither can then remember anything about how their actual lives went. This being the 21st century they begin to leave each other messages in their smartphone diaries and in notebooks and, occasionally, on their bodies.
So far so … simple? A lot more is dealt with in Your Name‘s quick moving hundred or so minutes. We have a spiritual grandmother as keeper of a shrine, a lot of teenage angst and awkwardness, and the small matter of a comet that may or may not be about to wipe out significant numbers of people. There are times where none of this makes any sense. Partly, that’s because plots like this shouldn’t be thought about too much, sometimes it’s because the cultural shift between Japan and my house renders everything otherworldly, and occasionally it’s because the white subtitles with no backing are impossible to read.
There’s an impressive soundtrack by Japanese band Radwimps which is an intregal part of the whole piece (and worth listening to in its own right as well) and the animation and direction by Makoto Shinkai is clever, deft and, mostly, wonderful.
Your Name has done phenomenally well in Japan and around the world. It hardly needs me to add my name to the list of fans. But, I’m going to. It’s an absolute joy from start to finish and now that it’s currently available for £0 at Amazon Prime there’s no excuse not to partake of its pleasures.