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Animation Film Review: Your Name (2016)

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For many decades, Hayao Miyazaki holds the honourable title of being the king of animation. So when YOUR NAME makes its mark on the industry gaining similar success to Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, we must question: is it time for Miyazaki to pass the torch onto the next generation of animators and directors? 

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From the director of FIVE SECONDS PER CENTIMETRE and GARDEN OF WORDS, Makoto Shinkai returns with YOUR NAME’ a comedic romance that has enchanted cinema-goers with its whimsical charm. 

High school girl Mitsuha has lived in the peaceful town of Itomori her entire life. Fed up with the countryside and her commitments as a young priestess, Mitsuha wants to become a handsome boy living in Tokyo in her next life. Not so long after that, we are introduced to a high school boy in Tokyo, Taki, who wakes up to discover that he is indeed Mitsuha… who have somehow ended up in Taki’s body.

Day after day, both Mitsuha and Taki find themselves in a wild loop of body-swapping madness that appears almost dream-like. With Mitsuha being Taki for one day and Taki becoming Mitsuha the next, they soon realise that this phenomenon was unstoppable. Rising to the challenge, they begin intervening with each other’s lives much to each other’s delight. Mitsuha helps Taki get closer to his female coworker while Taki helps Mitsuha become more popular at school. Everything was going perfect until the long-awaited Tiamat comet arrives on the same day as Mitsuha’s town’s festival. And before they knew it, everything changed from that moment on.

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For many film fanatics, Your Name sets out like a typical Hollywood body-swapping film with an overdose of cringeworthy adolescent awkwardness. While it was all fun and games for the first half of the film, the film later takes an interesting turn when it splits away from its predictable narrative to a chilling disaster film complete with an out-of-sync time-travelling twist.

With the combination of sub-meta genres such as time-travel, romance, comedy, supernatural, and slice of life, Your Name is incredibly in-depth compared to other animated features. To be honest, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the compilation of different genres threaten the cohesion of the narrative and the audience’s sanity. However, none of this complexity and predictability matters. At the end of the day, it really came down to the well-moulded mixture of well-liked protagonists, striking animation, and melodic soundtrack that formed the heart and soul of Your Name and its success.

As expected of a Shinkai masterpiece, Your Name is a blend of gorgeous details and vibrant colours. From the glaring light amongst the stratosphere of clouds to the lush forests of greenery to the modern city landscape, Makoto Shinkai has once again outdone himself. Featuring recognisable landmarks such as Shinjuku’s underpass and Aogashima Island, Shinkai offers an extraordinarily vivid glimpse into Japan and its way of life. Whether it is modern Japan or old Japan, Shinkai’s representation of Japan is remarkably realistic yet sci-fi fantastical at the same time.

Just like how a music video tells a story, Your Name pans out like a narrative-based music video that brings the story together like red strings of fate. Composed by J-rock band Radwimps, the soundtrack features a variation of ballad and J-pop songs such as Nandemonaiya and Zenzenzense. Accompanying the narrative in great unison, this soundtrack is essentially the soundtrack to both Mitsuha and Taki’s intertwined lives, capturing the ups and downs of adolescence.

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Overall: To a majority of cinematic fans, YOUR NAME comes across as an average body-swapping rom-com. However, despite its fragmented concept and predictable storytelling, Your Name still manages to stand out remarkably well and surpass viewers’ expectations. 

Taking the audience out of our elaborate world, every minute of Your Name is a blissful experience. The film constantly reminds us that life is precious, and that we must not take things for granted such as time, hope, and bonds. It might be cliche but these messages could not be more relevant, especially for today’s society.

With the ability to touch many viewers’ hearts and trigger a versatile range of emotions, it is quite rare for a film to leave some sort of imprint on one’s soul. Shinkai might be touted as the next Miyazaki but Shinkai is without a doubt his own genre in the animation industry. All Shinkai wants to achieve is create beautiful films and share them with the world — we hope he will continue to do so in the future. 

Rating: 8.5/10

For more information about Your Name, visit the website [here]

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