Imagine a dream so real that you aren’t sure if it is real life. Then you wake up and find out it was real. That’s what happens to Mitsuha and Taki in the animated film Your Name when a mysterious comet is set to pass by Earth.
While the body-swapping genre is typically reserved for comedies, Your Name manages to have heart as well. Mitsuha is a high school girl living in Itomori, a lakeside town in the mountains. She dreams of living in Tokyo. Taki is an unassuming architect student in Tokyo getting ready for university whose life is suddenly connected to Mitsuha’s when they go to sleep and wake up in each other’s bodies.
Friends and family are surprisingly accommodating to Taki and Mitsuha’s sudden confusion at how to live their normal lives. The teens leave messages for each other on their cell phones once they realize what is going on between them.
Your Name manages to play with ideas about what connections can be forged in life and what connections are forged unknowingly. This is on display during several fantastical scenes that transcend the physical action.
Director Makoto Shinkai (The Garden of Words) also wrote the film based on his novel released just before the film’s premiere. The style of the film is that of an anime series adapted for film. At several points, montages show what daily life is like for the main characters which helps move the story along.
To call Shinkai the next Miyazaki would be reductive as he’s already created several new classic animated films. With any luck, Your Name will show film fans that Shinkai is a fantastic writer/director and encourage them to check out his other work.