Visually scrumptious and powerful once the full bloom of emotions encompasses you, director Makoto Shinkai of Voices of a Distant Star and 5 Centimeters Per Second fame has delivered yet another stunner in body swap film, Your Name. However, be wary of synopsis because beyond the freaky Friday shenanigans and science fiction roots, there’s much more to this film that perhaps strictly meets the eye and it’s all the more wondrous because of it, offering up a true bite of escapism.
The two lives of high-schoolers Mitsuha and Taki are changed forever the day two stars fell. Complete strangers living polar opposite experiences, one in a rural town the other in a busy and bustling city, one day they awaken to seemingly have switched places. Continuing to occur the two learn how to communicate with one another until once again the night sky is lit ablaze by a comet and their lives are once again changed
One of the greatest assets to the film is it’s innate intrigue that the films foundation is built upon. The synopsis given is all the viewer is aware of as the film begins and the central mystery is set up as we’re thrust immediately into. Shinkai doesn’t allow us to get settled in and used to the world, rather propelling us straight into the craziness of the situations the two characters are going through and the way in which their storylines weave in and out of one another’s reality as they continue to leave significant imprints on one another, strung together by fate.
Accompanied by a sweeping score which manages to transport you into the mind space that comes with any given moment in time that either of these characters experience, the storyline proves to be so potent because of these dazzling technical achievements. As someone who holds the score of a film as one of the key fixtures of any great film with the ability to weaken or heighten the emotions the film wishes to extract, Your Name is a shining example of just why this aspect of the film is so crucial. The score by Radwimps is electrifying in its motifs, building layers upon layers as the film progresses, as in keeping with the characters and their narratives as the script itself.
In the same vein the visuals are positively mind blowing, demonstrating some of the finest artistry to come out of the genre. From the sequences where the stars first fall which will render you speechless to a hypnotic out of body experience that allows the animation style to take a quick detour into something more abstract to a third act where the action is revved up and every scene buzzes with kinetic, barely tapped energy the film once again reminds us why animation at it’s best is a level of cinema all its own. The sheer imagination that goes into every frame to create something both relateable and also something so far out of our sphere of understanding is accomplished in a manner a live action film never could. This level of prowess requires a mind that lives in a world of innovation and eccentricities, where every color pops in it’s own form, where characters defy gravity and worlds intertwine.
Ultimately though the film is so resoundingly gorgeous because more than the fantastical elements it touches on that easy to miss but very poignant sensation of feeling alive, in the moment. It’s the shared experiences between the characters as they learn to progress through their lives without the limitations of fear or bitterness with the help of one another. It’s that elemental exchange of life experiences, of feelings of triumph and enthusiasm that translates so seamlessly onto the screen from the detailed script. In it’s very best moments life makes your heart pound and your eyes widen at the scope of the way the world connects, at the vast expanse of time and the universe that you’ll never know and in it’s own, small scale manner in a story as grand as the speed of light and time between a heartbeat, Your Name allows the viewers to share that. To share the experience of living another life, bettering it in some manner, and building a connection that is as simple as saying hello and asking for the others name.