Your Name. is a unique romance in that it’s protagonists fall in love from learning about each other while in each other’s bodies.
Your Name. opens with Tokyo high school student Taki and small town schoolgirl Mitsuha watching a meteor shower and thinking how beautiful it is. Then, the next morning, Taki wakes up Mitsuha’s body and, yes, he does the obvious exploration of the body while wondering about this very strange dream he’s having.
After watching Taki (voiced by Ryûnosuke Kamiki) navigate enough of his day in Mitsuha’s body to get a sense of what a disaster it might be, we cut to Mitsuha (voiced by Mone Kamishiraishi) waking up in Taki’s body. Coue the exploration and thinking it’s a very weird dream she’s having.
The next day, they go to their respective schools and hear about the weird ways they’d behaved. They weren’t dreaming at all.
At first, they communicate with each other by writing on their hands, arms, faces – and then by leaving notes (handwritten and entries on phone diaries). Each seems to be living a life the other envies (Mitsuha wishes at one point that in her next life she could be a Tokyo schoolboy…).
Their switching has some cool side effects – as with Taki’s crush on an older girl, around whom he becomes tongue-tied. Mitsuha, on the other hand, is more relaxed and engaging – getting him a date her.
Eventually, Taki – who has been drawn the scenery around Mitsuha’s home because she so intrigues him – tries to find her. With two friends, he sets out to find her and learns that her small town was destroyed three years earlier!
There’s one last switch in which Mitsuha learns of the impending disaster and the race is on to save the town – even as the pair’s memories of each other mysteriously fade….
Written, directed and edited by Makoto Shinkai (The Place Promised In Our Early Days), Your Name. is sweet romance across time and space – an adventure that clicks because, while we might really get to know their worlds and families, Taki and Mitsuha are real teens: filled with confidence one moment and totally freaked out the next.
Shikai has created two memorable characters and a set of circumstances that makes them break from their everyday lives and lets them see each other’s lives as something different and special. They also find the courage to do things they would never have even thought of before.
Your Name.’s animation a mix of hand drawn and beautifully composited CGI effects (a snowy scene is hauntingly lovely). At its best, it’s Studio Ghibli quality.
The only thing keeping Your Name. from being purely brilliant is the lack of development in the film’s supporting cast. The one character other than Taki and Mitsuha to receive any real development is Mitsuha’s Grandma (voiced by Aoi Yuki). She is the dispenser of wisdom and tradition, but very aware of when they might not be appropriate. She might be the coolest grandma ever.
Your Name. is a delightful journey.
Final Grade: A-