An animated ode to the teenage experience

Animated films have always been a strong area of cinema, something that was only emphasized by the release of several excellent animated films, from “Zootopia” to “Kubo and the Two Strings,” this past year. One of these animated films that was greatly overlooked was “Your Name,” a Japanese film which only just recently received a limited American release.  It is a shame that it took this long for the film to release here, for this is quite arguably one of the best animated films to have been created in years.  

“Your Name” follows the story of Mitsuha Miyamizu and Taki Tachibana, two teenagers who live in entirely different environments. Mitsuha lives in the rural town of Itomori, dissatisfied with her basic life of going to school and helping at the shrine run by her family, while Taki lives in the bustling city of Tokyo, content with his own life and friends and working at an Italian restaurant. Out of nowhere, the two start switching bodies, living each other’s lives and often changing them up for better or worse, much to each other’s chagrin. While they are uncertain as to why the body-switching is happening, they try to make the best of it, ultimately bonding and helping each other iron out the less satisfactory elements of their respective lives. Together, they try to understand what is going on while also becoming stronger people in the process.

The film is beautifully animated, which is highlighted by a nice and endearing opening sequence.  The writing is sharp and strong, with the vocal performances of the characters, Taki and Mitsuha especially, complementing said writing and bringing out the humorous and emotional potential of the words. The story is well told and well animated, with director Makoto Shinkai providing strong emotional impact and subtext to great effect, with comedic elements also being delivered with perfect timing on top of the dramatic elements.  

Overall, one could say that the film is quite emotionally satisfying. The trials and tribulations of adolescent youth comes out strong and is constantly made refreshing, rather than repetitive. The film is wistfully lovely in what it sets out to do, providing and strengthening messages of longing, love, loss of innocence and entry into adulthood. This is yet another example of exemplary Japanese animation and another step in its advancement, with rarely a misstep involved in this affair. “Your Name” is a must-see for anyone who loves animation, or just films in general.

Film: “Your Name”

Directed by: Makoto Shinkai

Release Date: April 7th, 2017 (North America)

Rating: 5 out of 5