Makoto Shinkai

Kimi no na wa. [Your Name] (2016)

Kimi no na wa. [Your Name] (2016)

(Google Play Streaming, December 2019) I haven’t kept up with the current state of Japanese animation as much as I’d liked, so when I saw Your Name pop up as a featured recommendation, I saw it as a good way to get back into it. Fortunately, it’s a decent choice: what starts out like a body-switching comedy soon goes beyond the obvious, and then on to an apocalyptic race against time featuring temporal star-crossed lovers. Even knowing or guessing what’s coming doesn’t diminish the increasing effectiveness of the story as our teenage heroes try to fight the universe in saving a few hundred people … and then go against the capricious nature of the plot to reunite. There’s a lot of cleverness in the way the film moves forward in an unreliable universe that does its best to erase the minds of its protagonists. I particularly enjoyed the way the film quickly went past other body-switching clichés, with resourceful protagonists doing their best to work within the quirks of their situation. The often-tricky transition from silly teenage romantic comedy to heavier young-adult science-fiction drama is handled with some skill, leading to concluding scenes far more powerful than one could have imagined after the film’s first twenty minutes. In short, I understand the hype about Your Name now, and I can see why it attracted so much critical and popular attention. The animation is nothing short of superb (which, like it or not, can be an obstacle with some older animation), and the care with which writer-director Makoto Shinkai sets up his film is enough to make sentiment overpower cold plotting logic—I mean; surely the clever protagonist should have noticed being three years apart given their resourcefulness? But it doesn’t matter—the film survives that nitpick admirably well. Romance, after all, does require some suspension of disbelief as much as Science Fiction.