Saturday, 10 March 2018

YOUR NAME / KIMI NO NA WA (2016) - review

Like the red kumihimo that small town girl Mitsuha braids, like the red cord that Tokyo boy Taki wraps around his wrist, the story of Kimi no na wa, or Your Name, is easily loosened and unravelled, and equally so it is tightened up. A time travelling, body swapping anime that manages to not adhere to the cliché's of those genre's, Your Name specifically deals with the emotional distress associated with nostalgia, longing and loss.

Taki and Mitsuha find themselves inexplicably in each others bodies, shocked and curious at their new forms. They have to learn how each other works and lives without alarming their friends and family too much. They leave each other diary notes on their phone, as the transformations only last for a day at a time. They start to enjoy it, start to learn each others ticks, even improve their lives, but every now and again they wake up crying, a deep but undefinable melancholia taking over their senses. As plans to meet up with each other fails, Taki decides to travel to Mitsuha's home town, only then realising the horrible fate that has brought them together.

Your Name's most successful element is its balance. The plot is complex, with a scene's stabilising on as finer threads as the ones that make up a kumihimo, the fate of these characters are achingly on tenterhooks. The animation contains the cuteness that is pretty commonplace in anime, but then there are the land and skyscapes, rendered in such a way as to seem awe-inspiring not to the audience but to the characters as well. However, it is the tone of the film that is most successful. I feared that the relationship between the two protagonists would be some sickly love story, but the constant near misses and the restraint of director leads to a genuine longing, the red thread of fate myth coming off as more meaningful than a novelty MacGuffin.

Yes, Your Name is whimsical, but director Makoto Shinkai achieves something deeper, a poignant sadness, a sense of mono no aware, that strikes this film out amongst the rest.



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