Your Name Movie Review: Body Swapping, Teen Romance Played Out On Epic Stage

AnimeLab wasn’t kidding when they said Your Name was only going to be available for 48 hours. I went to double check the spelling of a character name in the synopsis and it was already gone from their site. Anyway, really glad I had the chance to see this and that it streamed online making it accessible even if only briefly.

Overview:

Taki and Mitsuha are waking up in each other’s bodies and don’t know why. When Taki suddenly stops waking up inside of Mitsuha, he goes looking for answers.

Review:

There’s no denying that Your Name has done very well in its cinema release and continues to gain attention with the release of its DVD. The fact that it got an Australian cinema release was fairly news worthy in my mind (though we seem to have had a run of anime cinema releases recently and now I’m really starting to feel jealous of people who live near a cinema given the only film I managed to be in a city to see was Sword Art Online Ordinal Scale). However, having missed this at the cinema, I thought I’d be waiting a year or two for a decent price on a DVD and then AnimeLab sent me an email letting me know that for 48 hours I could see this film on their site which I already pay a subscription for. I was pretty happy with that.

That said, I wasn’t going into this blind given how much hype this film has had. I knew what the story would be and I already know what a lot of people have said about it. But what I also knew going in was that this wouldn’t be my type of film. While I don’t mind romance stories, I prefer rom-com’s to dramatic romance and I’m really not a fan of teen romance. The handful of anime series I love that focus on teen romance are the exceptions. So, ultimately what was this movie like?

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Well, if you love sweeping images of the sky or musical montages showing time passing with gorgeous visuals, you are most definitely in luck. This film has them in copious amounts. And while I appreciate just how beautiful this film is, I did have to wonder at times why they felt the need to add in that particular shot or view of the sky (and yes, I know watching the sky is important to the story but how many times do we need to see it to get the point give the movie isn’t that long). But, some people like anime for the visuals and the animation and Your Name delivers for the most part.

Where I was less impressed where the two leads themselves. Taki and Mitsuha. Given the majority of the story exclusively focuses on these two characters and that they are in and out of each other’s lives, I left the film not really knowing anything of note about either character.

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Yep, Taki has a sign that says ‘Architecture’ in his bedroom (which they show us nearly every time we are in his bedroom) and I guess that’s significant because he draws this wonderful sketch of the town Mitsuha lives in (because only someone interested in architecture can sketch) and that’s how he eventually tracks down the name of Mitsuha’s town (because you know he couldn’t have remembered the school name that he was going to while in her body, or just learned her address while living her life). What else do we learn about him? He’s quick tempered (okay, he’s a teenage boy). He works part time and everyone seems to like him though we never find out why. He has trouble getting a job mostly because he is terrible at interviews. And… Nope, that’s it. That’s all I know about him. I forgot his name the day after I watched this which given how many times it was said in the film I take as a bad sign. Basically, for me a romance will live or die by whether I care about the characters and Taki doesn’t even register. I don’t dislike him. I don’t know enough about him to dislike him. He’s just kind of a placeholder for the story to move someone through the motions of a romance.

But Mitsuha isn’t getting away freely either. She claims to hate her town and wants to leave and has daddy issues. We learn more about her family dynamic and situation and she fares a little better. But is that enough for me to care whether she gets a happily ever after with the guy? Not really.

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So the romance part of this romance fell a little flat for me. That isn’t to say I didn’t appreciate how emotionally wrenching the scene at twilight was supposed to be and how happy I was supposed to be at the end, but knowing what they were doing with a scene and actually feeling a scene are two entirely different things and I was most definitely detached from this because of the characters.

Despite that, I’d still say this film was worth a watch. However…

Yeah, there’s another thing.

The memory loss plot device. See time travel, body swapping, destined connections don’t make me bat an eye in this movie as everyone of them makes contextual sense. Why the two characters lose their memories of one another does not. There’s no reason given for the phenomenon and it doesn’t seem like it is needed. More importantly, the phone erasing the messages and all the other little bits and pieces are never given even a poor explanation. It just kind of happens to add an additional complication to a story that had kind of already run its course.

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Yet, I’m still going to recommend watching this film. While the teen romance element doesn’t really play out and their are some consistency issues with some of the plot elements, the story of the town Mitsuha lives in and the comet are actually well played out and certainly interesting enough in their own right. And did I mention how pretty this film is?

Basically, I don’t really intend to watch this again but I am glad I had the chance to see it and it was a fairly pleasant and inoffensive way to pass a lazy Boxing Day afternoon.


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Thanks,

Karandi James.

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21 thoughts on “Your Name Movie Review: Body Swapping, Teen Romance Played Out On Epic Stage

  1. I feel like the memory loss would’ve made sense if the film didn’t end the way that it did (trying to avoid stating the big spoiler). That would have at least been some, even if it was poor, context for that happening, including the messages getting erased. Yet, after having processed the film, you’re right! The loss of memories and messages just don’t fit the context of the film at all, especially with that finale. Overall, I did enjoy the film quite a lot, especially the animation, but I wasn’t completely blown away by it. I also felt it was a longer than it needed to be for what it was. I suspect that had more to do with the breathtaking visuals more than anything else. Thanks for an awesome review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, a different ending would have easily accounted for memory and message erasure but they didn’t take that path so it just left me scratching my head. Still, it was a beautiful film and it gained quite a bit of attention which was great to see even non-anime fans discussing an anime film.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw this recently myself, loved it. I noticed a few of the plot holes but having not been aware of the twist (somehow managed to avoid it), I was too shocked by that to be really distracted by them. Very interesting seeing a not entirely positive review of the film though, I came away loving it but I can see a lot of valid points you’ve made.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I knew going in though that this wouldn’t be something I was going to absolutely love given the overall story and tone. I was still fairly impressed by it visually but I wasn’t really expecting the characters to feel as empty as they did. All of the plot holes and things might have been ignorable if I’d been caught up by the characters but they just didn’t manage to capture me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s is overused. And yes, memory loss actually didn’t make any sense because the timeline should be same after that phenomenon?
    I enjoyed the second half while I was waiting for the characters to become more appealing in the first half.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Right you pointed out what was clearly wrong with the film, especially the characters. At the same time, it’s enjoyable and I think a large part of what appealed to me was exactly the memory loss stuff. I’m a sucker for those I know you but I don’t actually remember you type theme.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hmm, this is the first time I read a review for this movie that also pointed out some flaws for the film, which is quite refreshing. I always become suspicious when a film apparently is flawless. I still very much want to see this, as I have heard so many great things about it and it still seems you enjoyed it a lot as well. I think it will finally be out on dvd here next year. Great post! 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I hope you do get a chance to see it. It was interesting to watch and it did have some good moments. I think if the characters had been a bit more fleshed out I may have really loved this despite some of the plot holes.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Wanna know something funny? Shinkai even stated himself that he could have done better with Kimi no Na Wa lol he knows it is flawed but he was glad it got so much attention from audiences around the world and not just in Japan. That being said, even with all it’s errors and vague explanations it really is a visual masterpiece.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Mmm the movie would have been a lot shorter without those complications you brought up. It certainly padded out the film and amped the drama, at least. I’m glad you were able to see the film sooner than you had expected.

    Liked by 2 people

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