The new Japanese animated film, Your Name, has been praised by viewers and critics alike in both its homeland, Japan, and abroad during its theatrical release. Your Name initially appears to be a basic traditional romantic comedy which incorporates the over-used supernatural body swap plot device but throughout its 107 minute runtime, the movie evolves into something much more dramatically and emotionally complex and quickly earns its reputation as one of the must-see new anime movies of this past decade. Here are five reasons why everyone needs to see Your Name.
Your Name is a Modern Japanese Love Story
Something that sets Your Name apart from so many other anime series and movies is just how modern its story and characters are. Naturally, there are still some elements of traditional Japanese culture at play here, but everything is portrayed through the eyes of modern Japanese people who have incorporated these elements into their day-to-day life and the result is something much more relatable and nuanced than the typical fan service-filled anime offering.
Seeing Mitsuha’s struggle in carrying on her family’s religious traditions while trying to maintain relevance at her high school is fascinating to watch and the fact that her and Taki so quickly turn to their smartphones to communicate with each other during their body swaps is both clever and necessary to see in this day and age.
Tokyo is Breathtakingly Animated in Your Name
Japanese productions often feature stunning background artwork but few have ever portrayed the city of Tokyo so perfectly. From the shots of the sprawling metropolis to the inclusion of real non-touristy locations that are popular with locals when going on dates, director Makoto Shinkai manages to present a version of Tokyo that is absolutely captivating in its accuracy and animated beauty.
Your Name is Educational
While the town, Itomori, featured in Your Name is fictitious, it is located within the very real Gifu Prefecture, and offers some rarely-seen insight into small town Japan life. Several of the town’s locations are based on real-life counterparts with the shrine being inspired by Ketawakamiya Shrine in Hida, and Lake Itomori based on Lake Suwa in the Kiso Mountains in neighbouring Nagano Prefecture. The film also does a great job of presenting aspects of the Shinto religion with the creation of the sake in particular being a stand-out “I didn’t know that!” moment for many cinemagoers.
Your Name is More Popular than Some Studio Ghibli Films
Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name was the highest grossing film of 2016 in Japan and is currently the country’s seventh-highest grossing film of all time landing just behind Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Princess Mononoke. The movie has already pushed several other Ghibli movies, like Ponyo, out of their positions and is expected to rise higher in the charts in the next month or so.
What Movie Genre is Your Name?
Your Name explores several movie genres and it’s kind of hard to pin down. It’s undoubtedly a film about romance but it could also be described as a romantic comedy or even a drama. As the story progresses though, the story begins to show shades of science fiction and by the time the credits begin rolling, it becomes clear that the film can’t be so simply placed within one category. This determination to tell a story that defies audience expectations keeps viewers on their toes and makes for great conversations afterwards.
Have you seen Your Name yet? Let me know what you thought about it in the comments below (No spoilers!). Would you recommend it to a friend?