Kimi No Na Wa follows the perspectives of two teenagers: Mitsuha Miyamizu, a high school student and shrine maiden who yearns to get out of her dead-end prospects in rural Itomori; and Taki Tachibana, a high schooler who works part-time in an Italian restaurant and has a typically happy social life.
Prof. Cassandra Lobiesk
I’ve always been a fan of Japanese animation, and like my book-reading habits—where I tend to gravitate toward specific authors—I often look to specific directors who’ve consistently delivered great animated films. Hayao Miyazaki (and his animation company Studio Ghibli) has certainly been an absolute favorite of mine, so I was pretty much bummed out that he’s finally—officially—retired. That’s one less animation giant in the world, and honestly, I wasn’t sure there would be anyone else who would be able to take up the mantle.
But then I became familiar with Makoto Shinkai’s work. And holy frell, they are absolutely breathtaking.
Shinkai is not a new director, by any means, though admittedly, his work only started getting much of its media notice in 2004, when his first full-scale film, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, was released nationwide. Since then, he’d become known as a director who’s continually provided Japanese media with stunning animated visuals, as well as bittersweet romances that could either make you tear up a bit or outright cry in the privacy of your own boudoir. Not that that’s happened to me or anything…um.
Anyway, introduction over with, I wanted to talk briefly about his latest film, titled Kimi No Na Wa, or Your Name. Released in 2016, it broke box office records in Japan, exceeding expectations by being the first non-Studio Ghibli movie to have grossed over 10 billion yen (about $100 million). Since its release, it has made over 15 billion yen (about $150 million) in Japan alone and has been nominated for film festival awards worldwide.
Kimi No Na Wa follows the perspectives of two teenagers: Mitsuha Miyamizu, a high school student and shrine maiden who yearns to get out of her dead-end prospects in rural Itomori; and Taki Tachibana, a high schooler who works part-time in an Italian restaurant and has a typically happy social life. Shortly after the introduction of these two characters, it becomes apparent that occasionally, they swap bodies during dream sequences between the two. This proves interesting, because now two people—who probably would have never met in their lifetimes—are working together to adapt to their odd situations, meanwhile trying to better the other’s social and familial lives.
If that was the only thing happening in the film, it would have been your regular, run-of-the-mill animated rom-com (well, with fantastic artwork, of course). But then tragedy strikes in the form of a crashing comet, and suddenly the film has warped from a regular, supernatural romantic comedy to a more profound film that also utilizes the concepts of time, parallel dimension, and memory. All in the matter of three connected arcs, in a time period that spans several years.
I was an emotional wreck by the end of the movie. There was a brief moment in Kimi No Na Wa where I thought Shinkai would end his story in the same manner he’d ended a few of his other works. And trust me, that shmat made me cry. I’m not fond of farewell-type stories, and anyone who knows me well enough is aware of how broken up I get when memory loss is added to the mix. Screw you, magical amnesia, you suck.
Thankfully, though, Kimi No Na Wa ended in a more hopeful tone, though admittedly rather brief. Still, I’ll take it over any other alternative!
If you look at Shinkai’s previous works, it’s obvious his forte is in his set and animation design. Everything in his previous 2013 film, Kotonoha no Niwa (The Garden of Words), denotes the care and meticulousness of his animation work. The garden in the animated movie looks identical in its stillness.
Kotonoha no Niwa is probably my favorite film that Shinkai’s directed so far as animation is concerned, but Kimi No Na Wa was definitely my favorite in terms of story. There was just the extra added “umph” to Kimi No Na Wa that elevated it to Studio Ghibli levels (and I don’t say this lightly, considering Miyazaki’s stories have always been so complex and brilliantly told) of storytelling. That said, Shinkai has a very promising future for the rest of his films, and I’m here hoping he delivers better and better ones down the line!
Eagles are critics, too! Reviews is definitely the Alte's most popular writing category owing to the fact that all HOLers have something they like, whether movies or books or video games or music or, well, all of the above. If they like it enough--or hate it enough--then they're likely to write up a review about it!