Japan has a history of complexities politely woven into its animations. With rich icons of the likes of Hayao Miyazaki and creative forces of studio houses such as Ghibli, every anime coming out of the country is greeted by anticipated enthusiasm. Your Name, after literally sweeping Japan off its feet, carried a huge hype on its back. And with hype comes tremendous expectations. After watching it, thinking about it, and re-watching half of it again, it’s safe to say, Your Name is everything it is touted to be.
In the hands of an amateur director, Your Name’s whacky premise was destined to go awry. On the surface, it’s a love story with a body-swapping gimmick. Scrape a little, it becomes a time travel science fiction. Dig the deepest, it’s a brilliant exploration of the grander scheme of life and plans that are way beyond mortal understanding. To manage it all together required direction of the highest order, for which Makoto Shinkai came to the rescue.
Shinkai gave this ambitiously wild story to two rich hearts beating at the same frequencies. He carves out beautiful landscapes and creates what possibly is the most beautiful anime of the 21st Century. Electrically paced with razor-sharp editing and soaring background score, the experience feels like something that does not belong to this world. Something mystical, something mythical and soothing to all senses. Easy on the eyes, soft on the ears, and mellow to minds.
Your Name starts ever so gradually and escalates to emotionally stirring heights. Shinkai constructs his fantasy of eccentric brilliance, brick by brick, working at the roots of adolescent relations. On this foundation, he lays stones of fate, love, and powerful cosmic bonds between people rested on mere thin threads. The result is a movie that is surreal, magical, and deeply absorbing. A must-watch, indeed.