"tantalisingly, touching tale that lands itself at London Film Festival"
First things first – forget everything you know about cheesy, over the top Japanese animation and welcome this truly mesmerising tale. Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name captures the magic of the well-known studio Ghibli as well as adding a certain ominous flare that lingers for days. Consume this whirlwind of an adventure and step into the shoes of high school city boy Taki or is it country bumpkin Mitsuha?
The Freaky Friday, body switching story arch is rather familiar when it comes to the world of cinema. Done to death by Hollywood in various forms and even though such a premise is the bare bones of Your Name, this is very different take indeed. As two young teenagers wake up in each other’s body’s, hilarity immediately emerges as Taki, now in a girl’s body can’t help but caress the breasts he now possesses. Although, living someone else’s life, working where they work, talking to their friends isn’t as fun or as easy as it sounds. With the help of modern technology, the pair set phone reminders in the hope they won’t make fools of themselves too much whilst this unexplained switch is occurring. Of course, with young adults comes teenage angst and torment of growing, transforming into the woman or man you are supposed to be, yet doing this whilst constantly switching sexes must be rather difficult. As the chemistry between these two (who haven’t even meet) sparks, their relationship bewitches us until all we can see is their love for one another. Just as we think we are hoovering close to a smile induced light hearted coming of age story, a comet heads towards Japan resulting in sadness and emptiness devouring the screen.
Your Name is anything but, a conventional teenage love story; this is a journey of resilience and determination in order to reach the one you love – no matter what the odds. Whether you believe in such things as karma and fate, our two lovebird’s destiny has sadly already been preordained by the powers that be. The in depth latter half allows you to completely forget the wishy-washy, over-dramatic setup and enables you to become lost in this heart-warming yet insanely melancholy story. Whilst we have plenty of laughs and uplifting flashes, as it dawns on us that the only Taki and Mitsuha have met is to try and stop such a catastrophic tragedy from taking place, one becomes overwhelmed by emotions. Pulled apart by a natural disaster and something much deeper; when the inevitable, clichéd ‘they fall in love’ plotline is delivered usually evoking an eye roll, it has so much heart that an inaudible 'aww' will escape your lips and those around you.
The soundtrack plays a vital part here, mostly consisting of Japanese band Radwimps, bringing upbeat rock alongside some touching, heart swelling notes that capture the sheer emotion projected here - plus gives a certain edge to the many well-constructed montages we see throughout. The animation is simply breathtakingly surreal proving to the western world that Japanese film-making is well and truly alive. The attention to detail Shinkai and his team give not just to our leading duo but the landscapes they reside in is honestly up there with the wondrous studio that is Ghibli. A phenomenal piece of artistry that your eyes will find hard to disregard.
Anime is well and truly alive and this proves it. It's not just all kids TV series and animated drawings with big sparkly eyes. If you have never witnessed an Anime before - grab a ticket to this one, it will be much more than you expect. Your Name will leave you with a sense of wonder, a tear in your eye and a feeling you solely cannot fathom.