As a friend once told me, “you’ll watch certain movies on a plane that you wouldn’t watch anywhere else.” Such was the case when I decided to watch Your Name on a two and half-hour flight. I wasn’t really interested, but I’d heard that it was good, so I figured I’d watch it to pass the time. An hour later, I was struggling to not completely break down in front of everyone.
Your Name has an old, tired premise that I had no interest in. Basically, (like, disgustingly basically) it’s Freaky Friday. Girl in small town body- swaps with boy in the big city; inevitable jokes about body parts ensue. Yes, there are jokes about certain “differences” between the two, and yes, it was uncomfortable for me to watch that part next to strangers. But they take up relatively little of the movie’s run time, and the rest of the movie was so good that I didn’t care.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what kind of movie Your Name is. “Romance” comes to mind at first, and that’s probably the best description. I’ll leave you guessing who the romance is about. But that undermines just how funny, touching, and often spiritual this movie can also be. And I’m hesitant to call it a romantic comedy or spiritual romance or anything like that. They’re not combinations; they feed into each other, if that makes any sense.
I’m struggling selling this movie because it doesn’t seem like it would work, but believe me, it does. Almost every moment is perfectly executed in a pace just fast enough to not be boring, but slow enough to be quiet and observant. I read a bunch of reviews for this movie before writing this, and I noticed two things in particular: 1) Wow, I am bad at writing movie reviews! 2) Everyone had some little problems with the movie; mainly how it skips over some logical points and it’s a little confusing if you think about the time-travel elements too much, but almost nobody cared. Your Name is about emotions and spirit and, yes, love, to the point where you only need it to make just enough sense for you to not be completely lost. Or maybe it does want you to get lost. The movie also focuses on nostalgia and feeling like being in a dream, so maybe that’s what the movie’s trying to convey. As Tod VanDerWerff of Vox writes in response to a potentially confusing scene for non-Japanese viewers, “it made emotional sense, so I just went with it.”
One thing that’s not hazy, however, is the animation. Ever since The Princess and the Frog, I’d almost resigned myself to the sad truth that hand- drawn animation was dead, at least in movies. Your Name was a treat for the eyes the entire way through because it shows how breath-taking animation in 2016 can be. It was also a treat for the ears, as the soundtrack perfectly captured every moment of the movie.
I don’t watch anime. It’s not on principle or anything; I just haven’t gotten into it yet, save Pokemon, Bakugan, Ponyo, Final Fantasy XV: Brotherhood and more recently, One-Punch Man. (I say yet because my theory is that my adoration of animation will inevitably gravitate myself and anime closer until I’m a complete “weeabo.”) So from my perspective, an anime “outsider,” if you will, Your Name is a masterpiece. Not just “for anime,” or “for a romance.” It is a great piece of art that I now hold in as high regard as the western movies that I’ve always loved: Inside Out, Star Wars, and now, Your Name.