How high can a high-concept film go? For Makoto Shinkai’s body-swap, time-travelling, coming-of-age, animated romance, the sky’s the limit – and this film loves the sky. A young man and a young woman switch places every other day, saving notes on each other’s phones as a way to communicate before the night wipes their memory. It sounds dangerously convoluted on paper, but Shinkai unfolds this carefully-plotted origami of a story in a way that’s mightily impressive and immensely satisfying to watch. It’s enough to recommend Your Name on that merit alone; it just also happens to be very sweet and look superb.
Some of the cutest and comedic moments come when the characters see the benefits of loosening their heavily-adopted gender roles. When Mitsuha finds herself in Taki’s body, her femininity improves his social life. When Taki finds himself in Mitsuha’s body, his masculinity improves her independence. It could have explored these themes on identity more, but the intrigue never lets up.
Those who are allergic to anime will still find themselves scratching their eyes at the anime-ness of it all. (You may breakout into hives about half-an-hour in when a J-pop music video ambushes the film.) But on the flipside, anime fanatics will hug this with both arms and a leg. There’s enough ancient Japanese lore to give whimsy to the fantasy without making it a history lesson and any praise I’ve ever given to Studio Ghibli’s beautiful background work applies equally here. This film is gorgeous.
If you squint the eye of your brain just a little, you can see a sizeable plot hole that undoes one of the key plot twists. (Did no one look at a calendar?) But by that point, it’d be like complaining about some undercooked fries that came with a great burger.