Your Name is something of a slice of life anime from the acclaimed Makoto Shinkai. Makoto Shinkai is probably best known for titles like Garden of Words and 5 Centimeters Per Second and while they’re both good, especially Garden of Words, I think Your Name is a significant step up. I think Your Name has the potential to smash out of Japan, where it is already a top grossing film and become an international hit.
The premise is one that anime viewers will have probably seen before – two people swapping bodies. Straight away it’s clear that this isn’t an animated version of Freaky Friday. For a start neither Mitsuha and Taki have met or know what is happening to them to begin with; they have to work it out.
Just as the characters have to work out what’s going on, so does the audience and Your Name is a clever story that rewards the viewer for paying attention. Just why have these two young people become connected in some way? Is it due to the comet passing overhead? Is it due to the obscure ritual taking part in the isolated down that Mitsuha lives in?
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by Your Name. It’s stunning. The landscapes of the rural village are perfect. The bustle of Tokyo is a wonderful contrast. The characters quickly draw you in. You’ll laugh at all the right places and then you’ll share their concerns.
While it’s easy to be overwhelmed by such a wonderfully drawn anime with charismatic characters – don’t be. Pay attention. There are clues. You might turn to Makoto’s previous works to try and get ahead of the plot and work out how the blooming relationship will resolve; you might find clues there but I suspect you’ll be mislead. Your Name carves out its own unique space.
It’s hard to say too much more about this clever story without setting up your expectations. I will say this isn’t a Ghibli. It’s not for kids. It’s an anime for you. There’s drama, friendship, mystery and action.
The plan is to take Your Name to the cinema for a big screen release. If you get the chance to go and watch it then jump. It’s easily possible that Your Name becomes your favourite anime of all time, it’s that good, and you’ll regret missing the chance to enjoy in the theatre.