Your Name (Kimi no Na wa in Japanese) is a animated film that was highly successful in Japan, and made it to the US in a limited release. The basic premise of the movie is that two teenagers, a girl in the Japanese countryside and a boy living in Tokyo, begin to swap bodies for days at a time. The two eventually realize what is going on and communicate with one another via their smart phones.
While on the surface Your Name looks like a typical body swap romantic comedy, it turns out to be much more than that. The movie features several unexpected turns and takes you on an emotional rollercoaster that I found immensely satisfying. Until I actually saw it, it seemed odd that a movie with this premise would become one of the most successful anime movies ever released in Japan.
Due to the nature of the narrative, there’s quite a bit I cannot say for fear of spoiling the movie. But where it shines is in its structure and design. The story itself is interesting, but nothing groundbreaking. Where the movie shines in how it tells it. The foreshadowing is handled amazingly well, and is almost brazen about how much it reveals with the viewer none the wiser.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that this is one of the most beautifully animated movies I’ve ever seen. While there is clearly some digital trickery, mostly used to rotate the backgrounds in 3D, the whole movie is in the traditional anime style, polished to a shine.
The narrative works extremely well, but I should note that there are a few clues that it’s rather unbelievable the characters themselves never picked up on. The premise does fray a bit if you analyze it too closely, but the story is so well told that it’s easy to let that go.
I should also note that I’ve seen this movie both dubbed and subbed, and there are a few jokes that quite literally do not translate into English (for instance, we don’t have gendered versions of “I”). I’d still recommend either version. The dub allows you to understand some speech that isn’t subtitled, such as funny background conversations during a montage, or the (surprisingly well-translated) lyrics to some of the soundtrack. But the sub does a better job explaining the jokes and references that are specific to the Japanese language.
I feel like this movie could appeal to just about anyone. It’s not about conflict, there’s no fighting, and there’s not even a villain. It’s a movie about how people connect and what that means. For a movie based on a supernatural premise, it feels pretty grounded.