Not so long ago I ended up watching my first ever Shinkai, Makoto film, Weathering With You. And being floored by the beautiful scenes, the perfect shots, and the overall world breathing to life I was even more pumped to watch his most critically acclaimed one. A romance that jumps through time and space as two teenagers swap bodies seeming at random leaving one another to try to figure out how to live the split life. A film that is summed up by a simple title, Your Name.
Kicking off right away is just the sheer beauty of the scenes and shots angels they use. This fascinating show of cinematic knowledge still blows me away even though it in a lot of ways is on the same level as Weathering With You. It is a really interesting take on what animation can do and how even people who aren’t really into the medium can look at a scene and just go, “wow,” This has left me curious to go see other films like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, one directed by Hosoda, Mamoru and even though it is an older film I want to see how they stood up back then.
But moving on, so Your Name plays like an expected body swap. A girl lives in the middle of nowhere hates it, asks to be reborn as a cute boy in Tokyo, wakes up as a cute boy in Tokyo, goes to bed wakes up as herself. Thinking it was all a dream she notices something in her notebook the following day, a message that she didn’t write, “Who Are You?” swapping bodies again shortly thereafter, the main heroine, Miyamizu, Mitsuha, simply wrote Mitsuha on his palm before going to sleep.
What follows is a good-hearted back and forth between the two, each of them settings rules and boundaries that must be maintained when they are swapped. One, for example, is from Tachibana, Taki the male lead, who simply tells Mitshua to stop blowing all of his money on food, spoiler she does it anyway.
This comes to a peak when Mitshua sets Taki up on a date with his crush, and even though she plans on being the one to go, they end up not swapping bodies that day, leaving Taki out to dry. Doing the best out of a situation that was created for him the date ends on a somber note, Taki had moved on from his crush Okudera, Miki, and they leave it at that.
Defeated, he attempts to call Mitshua to tell her what a disaster the date was, but to no avail as the phone is turned off. They never swapped bodies again after that day.
Around this time is where Your Name breaks away from it’s just a body swap and delves into a much more complicated endeavor. Becoming ever more curious about the name he can no longer remember, Taki struggles with an inner sadness of origins he is unaware of. But for some reason there is a village he can’t quite get out of his mind, drawing it to the best of his ability he starts his search, showing it to locals all over the countryside. Having little to no luck he almost gives up, resting at a small dinner where the owner sees the picture.
Itomori, she confirms to him, a small village where her husband was from. The small village where a disaster happened three years early, destroyed by a rouge fragment from a passing comet that killed pretty much everyone. Even more confused he writes it off but the ache doesn’t go away.
Your Name gets pretty mind fucked at this point. Now we aren’t just talking about body-swapping we are talking about two separate timelines somehow converging at one time. Two people who are at different times and places meet as if they are at one. Due to this break, it makes it almost impossible for them to remember much about each other except they exist in some form or another. Unable to scratch that Itch Taki goes back to the town but this time travelers into the mountains in search for a shrine that lies there.
Finding two bottles of Sake he recalls that one of them was created by Mitshua, and half of her remained in the bottle. Desperate to somehow break that strand of time again to warn her of the comet he drinks it, and as he falls to the holy site’s floor to sleep, he wakes as Mitshua. What follows is a mad dash to save the village as the two work together and with friends to get everyone to safety though no one believes them. With a few minor charges of domestic terrorism, the two succeed, saving the town and going back to their timeline, forgetting each other again only left with a desire to find something they do not know.
It was at this moment I realized, through all the hype and praise. I did not understand it. Your Name is a wonderful film, it is gorgeous, the sound is on point the characters are interesting enough but the whole time, even though I was mesmerized part of me just kept waiting for it. That moment where it all comes together, but in Your Name it never really does. I would say the closest in when Mitshua is trying to save the village and Taki had returned it his ‘normal’ life. Before they split, however, he had an idea to write down each other’s names so they wouldn’t forget. In a panic, Mitshua falls, and desperate to remember his name she opens her hand finding “I love you”
Cute? Fuck yeah! Film defining? Not even close. A few other times is when Mitshua goes to Tokyo to meet Taki, but since they are from different time strands he had yet to meet her and therefore had no idea who she was. Asking for her name before she leaves her hair ribbon with him. That was lackluster.
The final time was when they meet again in Tokyo, and almost don’t talk to each other as they pass but feeling like they had met Taki stops and asks her. Ending on the note of them asking each other for their names. It was a fitting enough end, I mean they are meeting for the first time but as I watched the closing credits I couldn’t help to feel what was the point? In Weathering With You, it made sense, fuck the world as long as I get to have Hina. Bit of a prick move but alright. I respect it. It never felt like Your Name’s point, ever came to other than they fell in love, and it isn’t enough.
Overall I decided to put this film at a 5/10, it was fine, I had fun, it wasn’t as good as Weathering With You nor did I feel it lived remotely to the critical success it received. Honestly, I just wanted to cry and it failed to make me do so, maybe I Want to Eat Your Pancreas will?