It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a film for Asia Media, but after seeing Makoto Shinkai’s “Kimi no Na Wa.” (君の名は。), also known by its Western title, “your name.”, I felt compelled to return to spread the word about what could go down as one of the greatest animated motion pictures ever. And no, I do not say that lightly.
Over a month ahead of its Japanese premiere in August, the official world premiere of “your name.” was held on July 3 at Anime Expo 2016 in Los Angeles.
Three thousand attendees got to see Shinkai’s latest work. And lemme tell you… this movie is not only the culmination of all of Shinkai’s career so far, but a shining example of the best of what the Japanese film industry has to offer.
Before I rave and rant about how much you need to see this movie, let’s take a step back and look at the current state of some of the anime industry’s biggest filmmakers and studios.
Since the death of Satoshi Kon of Madhouse, and the retirement of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata from Ghibli, many animation fans have wondered which filmmakers and studios will emerge as the pillars that underpin the anime industry.
We’ve seen “Evangelion” creator, Gainax co-founder, and Miyazaki protégé Hideaki Anno of Studio Khara, with his awe-inspiring work on the ongoing “Rebuild of Evangelion” tetralogy and the Japan Animator Expo.
We’ve seen Akiyuki Shinbo of SHAFT with his quirky animation and avant-garde visual imagery that brought to life the “Monogatari” Series and “Madoka Magica,” as well as the current “Kizumonogatari” film trilogy.
We have seen Mamoru Hosoda of Studio Chizu (“The Girl who Leapt Through Time”, “Wolf Children”) recently debut his latest film “The Boy and the Beast,” which made The Japan Times hail him as “rank[ing] first among the Japanese animation directors seen as successors to Miyazaki.”
And we have seen Makoto Shinkai (“5 Centimeters Per Second”, “The Garden of Words”) of CoMix Wave Films, who has continued to amaze the anime industry with his photorealistic visual imagery, lifelike animation, and his wonderfully written storytelling with highly relatable characters.
“your name.” was expected to debut to exceedingly high expectations and it did not disappoint.
The film begins by telling the story of two high-schoolers in Japan with very different lives. Mitsuha Miyamizu (Mone Kamishiraishi) is a young girl who lives in rural Japan with her grandmother and little sister. Taki Tachibana (Ryunosuke Kamiki) is a young man who lives in Tokyo with his father.
Although Mitsuha loves her grandmother and sister and her best friends, Tesshi and Sayaka, she resents living in a rural town with antiquated traditions. She longs to live in Tokyo.
Tokyoite Taki, on the other hand, is an average student who hangs out with his friends, Tsukasa and Shinta, works part-time at an Italian restaurant to get closer to his crush Miki, and wants a career that uses his talent in architecture and fine arts.
One day, Mitsuha has a dream that she is a young man named Taki living in the big city. That same day Taki has a dream that he is a young girl named Mitsuha living in the sticks.
Sure enough this is more than a dream, and Taki and Mitsuha are forced to cooperate with each other in order to cope with this strange phenomenon.
But why is it happening in the first place? And are Mitsuha and Taki closer, or further apart than they think?
What starts off as a simple comedic contemporary fantasy evolves into one of the greatest heartfelt emotional roller coaster rides that you will ever experience in a movie.
Kamiki and Kamishiraishi each brought Taki and Mitsuha to life with their remarkable vocal and emotional range, especially in the scenes where Taki and Mitsuha have switched bodies. This is complete with Shinkai’s magnificently crafted screenplay and Masayoshi Tanaka’s (“Ano-Hana”, “Anthem of the Heart”) delightful character designs.
Shinkai and CoMix Wave once again deliver with gorgeous photorealistic scenery, remarkable cinematography, and characters so breathtakingly animated down to their very facial expressions to the point that it even gives Miyazaki himself a run for his money.
Japanese hit rock band and Oricon bestseller The Radwimps composes an electrifying soundtrack that was so captivating that the audience was compelled to sing along.
“your name.” was an absolute masterpiece in every sense of the word. The story, the characters, the animation, the cinematography, the soundtrack, EVERYTHING!
It made me and the 3,000 people I was experiencing it with laugh, cry, and leap out of our seats and cheer throughout the two hours we spent watching it.
When the credits began to roll and Shinkai-sensei took the stage, the audience and I immediately gave him the longest standing ovation that we had given to anyone in our lives. Anime News Network has reported that the audience has given him and the film three standing ovations in total.
We had also learned that not only had Shinkai completed the film four days prior to screening it, but that Shinkai-sensei himself was also walking around the theater throughout the screening and paying close attention to each of the emotions that his marvel had stirred from us.
To sum it up, I can say with certainty that Makoto Shinkai has delivered his greatest masterpiece and has made his mark on the history of animation, putting him side by side with the great pillars that elevate Japanese animation to astounding new heights.
“your name.” is a flawless work of cinema and animation that will even captivate non-animation aficionados when they see it.
“Kimi no Na Wa. / your name.” will premiere in theaters in Japan on August 26. It has also been licensed in the U.S. by Funimation, which will hold a Blu-ray/DVD and limited theatrical release at a later date.