Makoto Shinkai is a genius. Say what you will about how his stories usually reach a conclusion, his stories aren’t always the best written in the world, but damn it the guy can tell a story that hits you in the feels with a sledgehammer while you try to keep your emotions together like a piece of spidered windshield.
Shinkai’s most recent film, Kimi no na wa, or Your Name, is undoubtedly one of the biggest box office success stories that has hit the anime world. It is a fantastic film and you should please go see it if you have not. The film has surpassed the legendary Spirited Away from the famed Hayao Miyazaki, and with good reason.
Shinkai himself dismisses the idea of being compared to the colossus that is the man who inspired him to be a creator. Miyazaki has more hits for sure, but Shinkai’s film are similar in areas that help its popularity and they are certainly different in terms of subject matter and themes.
Having only watched two Miyazaki films (an aspect of myself I desperately need to change) I can say with some confidence that his films seem to blend the whimsical innocence of fantasy with the harsh reality of the human condition and how we affect the world around us. From the environmental sentiments of Princess Mononoke to the utter despair of war in grave of the Fireflies, Miyazaki was and still is a master of teaching us a lesson while watching great animation that both entertains and inspires us.
Shinkai films utilize the power of visual medium that Miyazaki also believed in but he attacks the viewer differently. His films typically are about some form of romance. And in a world where the whimsy of romance can seem often overdone or in some areas over complicated, he creates a fusion of harsh reality and relatable romance. Shinkai loves the concept of time and space and sheds light on the negative aspects of such things that can make or break relationships.
Take his first work for example, Voices of a Distant Star. This short film tells the story of a love torn apart by war, yet the characters never seem to hold major disdain for the enemy forces, in fact they are barely seen physically fighting at all. This film was about the growing distance between the two youths, and messages taking longer and longer to reach the recipient while traveling the void of space. You can love someone with all of your heart, but if time and space just don’t agree with your endgame goals can you really win? Shinkai challenges the reality of romance, torturing the concept really, seeing how long it can hold out and what it can withstand, and he does so with breathtaking visuals.
Your name has some of the most beautiful animation I have ever seen. It’s color, character designs and even the subtle realistic touch put into every fine detail from a tomato being cut to the way wind grazes a person’s hair are displayed with vivid detail. The music was also enjoyable although since I watched it dubbed they translated the music which bothered me a little. The voice acting was also great with funimation again doing a great job.
The story follows a boy named Taki and a girl named Mitsuha. Taki lives a city life in Tokyo as a student struggling to find his place in the world while Mitsuha lives in a remote village as part of a family that is heavily into Shinto. Both are uncomfortable within their lives and wish for things to be different. However something not so typical about their lives is that they switch places in their dreams. When Taki sleeps he is Mitsuha and vice versa. The film goes into why this occurs and how the two struggle to meet one another. I cannot go any deeper without spoiling anything, sorry. What I can say is that the emotional roller coaster that is this film will keep your eyes peeled for its entirety. Your name is a testament to the thought that love can transcend time and space, and that with powerful enough belief perhaps the correct cards can fall into place to find someone. Thast being said, love can also be stripped away in an instant and in the blink of an eye the reality of the situation can set in. How does one deal with that? This is a question Shinkai loves trying to answer.
Why watch Your Name? The animation is incredible, the dialogue is outstanding the jokes hit across cultural barriers, the trials our characters go through will hit you emotionally and above all else the film is a hypnotic journey from start to finish.
Are there flaws? Sure. Personally I think the jokes, while funny, were a little repetitive and I felt that Mitsuha got a little more development than Taki. However besides those two things, I was amazed by Your Name. It is a masterpiece and deserves that 98 percent on rotten tomatoes for sure. Go watch it. If you have already watch it again and maybe check out Shinkai’s previous works such as Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, 5 cm per Second, Children who chase lost voices, and The Garden of Words.
YouTube version: https://youtu.be/Q1Lcfv4Go20