Not to be confused with “Call me by Your Name”, a film that doesn’t look like it has any potential based on the one screen cap I’ve seen of it. It’s time to finally look at the recent anime film that turned a lot of heads. Your Name certainly became a huge hit in both America and Japan and you’re sure to have at least seen the poster somewhere. It’s a body switch, romance adventure so it’s fitting in a lot at once. I’m not really a big romance fan, but if handled right it can work. The romance here isn’t actually a thing til near the end anyway so that’s all good. An underwhelming ending slows this film down, but it’s a good adventure nonetheless.
Mitsuha wakes up one morning and prepares for a normal day. However, everyone around her is acting quite oddly. They explain that it’s Mitsuha who was crazy the other day so they were just wondering how she would act. Mitsuha can’t even remember what happened yesterday, but it can’t have been anything too dramatic. Things change when she wakes up in the body of a teenager named Taki. He is living the Tokyo life that she has always dreamed of. While she believes it to be a dream at first, gradually she realizes that this is very real. Naturally it goes without saying that Taki also randomly wakes up in her body some days. They quickly have to find a way to live around these circumstances and ensure that the other person doesn’t do anything too drastic. Unfortunately, Taki isn’t about to tone down his aggressive nature and Mitsuha will continue to waste all of his money on food which makes for some tricky shenanigans. Can their reputations survive and why is this even happening in the first place?
The first chunk of the film is all about the body swap shenanigans. There is certainly quite a lot that you can do with that concept and I think it could make for a good action series someday. Of course, it’s a concept that you have to handle with the utmost care or it’ll be used for all of the wrong humor. The best chunk of the film is probably each character messing around with the other person’s life, but not even this film can resist going for the low hanging jokes. The second half of the film becomes a more serious drama with lives at stake and both characters constantly fighting their fading memories.
Before we go into the film any further, lets talk about the characters. Taki is the main guy here and unfortunately he is not likable at all. His first instinct when transformed into Mitsuha is to act like a stereotypical anime character and take advantage of being in this body to satisfy his curiosity. He doesn’t just do it once, but it’s a running gag that he messes around with her body every single time he transforms. It was already bad the first time, but as they get to know each other and become friends it just becomes a serious invasion of privacy and takes away any shred of dignity he had left. As a result, you can’t sympathize with the guy at all and it hurts the romance angle a bit. He also knows how to always make the wrong move at the right time like when he ends up leaving a heartfelt message when he was supposed to write his name. If he had done the latter then a chunk of the climax might have changed, but he was too witty to follow the rules there.
Mitsuha is the other main character and she’s a lot more reasonable. She still goes through the same cliches as Taki, but unlike Taki she eventually stops doing the same thing every morning. She also tries to help his social life like when she pairs him up with one of the employees and in general makes his reputation skyrocket. She does actively waste his money and seemingly doesn’t feel bad about it but it’s a start. She also has a much tougher life than Taki as she is stuck in a village with nothing to do. At least Taki is in Tokyo and can do just about anything.
Taki does have the better supporting cast though. His friend with the glasses is pretty reasonable. He helps Taki out when Mitsuha forgot to bring a lunch and also comes along on the quest during the latter part of the film. He may have been just having fun with Miki and not really concentrating but it’s the thought that counts. Miki was also a pretty nice character. She saved Taki (I’ll just use the character’s name no matter who is controlling the body unless it’s important to specify) from a scammer and also proves to be a pretty loyal friend. For Mitsuha’s supporting cast, we had her two friends as well. They were agreeable enough and did help her out in the big master plan at the end even if it sounded crazy. Not quite as interesting as Taki’s friends though. Mitsuha’s grandmother could be fairly annoying. She knows quite a lot, but never really does anything with that knowledge so she may as well not know it then right? The sister was okay, it’s not her fault that Taki was always wrecking Mitsuha’s reputation.
Now the next parts are about an element of the film that may be considered a spoiler so skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know about it. 3.2….1… Go. So, the characters are set apart by 3 years with good ole time travel so it helps explain some things like why they couldn’t just call each other right away. That’s good since it would have been too easy otherwise. That being said, it shouldn’t have been a twist as the characters should have known about it instantly. They’re using Cell Phones and laptops during the movie and those always show the year next to the time. They should have instantly known something was wrong. Even more basic than that, a Friday on the 24th this year would be a Friday the 21st 3 years ago. The date should always be different or the day of the week. Leap years could mess with that, but it’s still a pretty big deal. Also, when they’re looking for each other, Taki has to come up with very detailed sketches to find where she was. Couldn’t he have just remembered the name of her school, or town? It may have been easier for Mitsuha than Taki in this case and she actually did track him down so I’ll give her some credit there. I just don’t see how Taki would not have been more observant so he could have found the place easier. To an extent this is all for plot convenience. It’s hard to write a time travel story that doesn’t have some kind of issue, especially when it’s used as a plot twist and all. It’s not something that would actually hurt the film either way, just that you shouldn’t dwell on the specifics too much or you’ll start to pick up on these things.
The animation for the film is pretty sharp. We get some nice visuals for the shooting stars from the poster towards the end. The city landscape looks great and the foods are on point as well. It’s definitely a modern anime film that clearly got a good budget. The character designs are also better than some other modern anime features as they feel more mainstream and less abstract if you will. I also enjoyed the music. We get a number of insert songs throughout and they’re handled well. I’m always up for a lyrical song as long as the lyrics themselves don’t distract from the scene because of how bad they are. If the song’s lyrics are great or understandable, then there’s nothing to worry about and these were good from what I heard. I can’t say that I remember any of the lyrics at the moment, but that’s just how it goes. It takes a few watches for me to get the lyrics unless the song is just that phenomenal.
At the end of the day, the important thing is for the film to be enjoyable. I can definitely say that the film was fun. The setting was nice and the characters were good. It’s an upbeat story that surprisingly hasn’t been done too often before. I actually wouldn’t have minded if the body swap part had effectively been the whole movie and when the comet passes they simply stop seeing each other. It might have not had the same impact for many viewers, but I think it could work well. Of course, I’m sure the film was actively trying to ensure they didn’t wear out the plot as focusing on just that for 100 minutes could have easily backfired. Maybe it’s for the best then.
As you may know from watching films over the years, an ending is always very important. Depending on the film, an ending can shift a film’s score by around 3 stars. Sometimes more and sometimes less. This is one of those films where the ending was extremely ending. If they went a certain amnesia route then it probably would have lost another star. If they’d gone the optimal route then it would have gained a star. It’s an underwhelming ending that lands it squarely in the middle, but doesn’t really damage the film. I’ll be content with that, but I still wasn’t a fan of how it all went down. In any film where memory is an issue and people are asking about each other’s names and such, I always want them to remember. I can’t get much more specific here, but you’ll probably know what I mean by the end. The characters run in circles with their memories for a while and I always think you should finish the race and get the memories as opposed to the alternative. The worst case ending would have involved a few hundred deaths plus total amnesia so I can at least confirm that the ending never goes into that territory. Now that would have been a travesty.
Overall, Your Name is a good film. I’m always up for a good body swap film. It was engaging throughout so the film really sped by. The drama angle in the second half was definitely handled a lot better than it may have been in another film. I’m still not crazy about the ending, but it could have been far worse. Taki’s running gag and one gross scene hold it back from getting that extra star, but it’s still a film that I can recommend. If you want to see a film about Bonds that Transcend Time and don’t want to rewatch Yugioh for the 100th time, this is the film to check out. You can see why took off so much with everyone who viewed it. It’s theoretically a film that can be fun for basically everyone.