Review Written By Justin D Williams
Story- From director Makoto Shinkai, the innovative mind behind Voices of a Distant Star and 5 Centimeters Per Second, comes a beautiful masterpiece about time, the thread of fate, and the hearts of two young souls. The day the stars fell, two lives changed forever. High schoolers Mitsuha and Taki are complete strangers living separate lives. But one night, they suddenly switch places. Mitsuha wakes up in Taki's body, and he in hers. This bizarre occurrence continues to happen randomly, and the two must adjust their lives around each other. Yet, somehow, it works. They build a connection and communicate by leaving notes, messages, and more importantly, an imprint. When a dazzling comet lights up the night's sky, it dawns on them. They want something more from this connection - a chance to meet, an opportunity to truly know each other. Tugging at the string of fate, they try to find a way to each other. But distance isn't the only thing keeping them apart. Is their bond strong enough to face the cruel irony of time? Or is their meeting nothing more than a wish upon the stars?
There is a reason "Your Name" was the highest grossing anime last year. The reason is for this is Makato Shinkai who clearly established himself as one of the best directors in anime in this modern era. "Your Name" is a beautifully written, well crafted film that hits on all forms of emotions. The story of the two main leads Mitsuha and Taki who are connected to each other. Mitsuha lives in the boring country life and wishes for more excitement in her life. She dreams of living in Tokyo. Taki is a boy who lives in Tokyo and works part time at an Italian restaurant. He spends his days working and hanging out with his friend. The flaw of his character is that he has a short fuse. The way the characters are presented makes it an interesting dynamic when they encounter each other. Each character helps each other out with their faults, issues and actually improve each other. There is tons of growth when it comes to characters and great depth. This film is a character study of two people in very different styles of living. The pacing while could feel slow all becomes worth it when the gut punch moment hits. In pure Makato Shinkai fashion he knows to hit you with a moment that makes you feel sorrow. For the sake of spoilers I won't mention it but I will say I didn't see it coming. "Your Name" has a very significant reason for the title and the reason for the title doesn't become clear till the end. Makato Shinkai took a complex idea of time and connection and manage to weave a story that will be talk about for a long time. Great characterization, great story and a few tear jerker moments that only Shinkai style brings.
Acting: The English cast does a stellar job with Stephanie Sheh leading the cast as Mitshua and Michael Sinterniklass as Taki. Both actors do a great job really conveying the emotions of the characters and I think it was some of their best work to date. Rounding up the cast Laura Post, Kyle Hebert, Glynis Ellis all do splendid jobs. Japanese dub pursuits have no fear the English dub is equally great and in some ways I feel conveyed more emotions in certain scenes. Great job by the cast and I would love to see this combination again.
Animation: If you compare Makato Shinkai's early work to when he has a budget it's a beautiful thing. He still using lightning and colors to tell part of the story. The use of some cgi in the backgrounds also helps enhance the visuals of the anime. My favorite shot is the one where it pans from the sky. The shot looks like a painting was use for the backgrounds which really makes this film stand out. Character designs is what you expect from Shinkai. I must admit it will be nice to get more variety in the high school boy and girl but it's anime.
Music: The music is great with a mixture of Shinkai love of piano compositions and music by Radwimps really do the scenes justice.
Final Thoughts: "Your Name" is the anime of 2016 and one of the best of this decade. Makato Shinkai is showing us that this form of story telling has as much heart, compelling characters and great visuals as any live action. This is an anime you must put in your watch list.
5 stars out of 5.