Your Name

Year: 2016
 Makoto Shinkai
Rating: 8.0

The animation in this film is enthralling and dazzling. Nothing flashy or imaginative in the way of  LovingVincent or Princess Kaguya, but spectacularly detailed with colors that eat away at your soul. One scene in which a few of the characters take a walk through the woods to visit a temple full of colored leaves with the sun breaking through the trees is just stunning. The panoramic shots of Tokyo are remarkable as well. But great animation without a story is just that - great animation - but director Makoto Shinkai delivers a heart rendering film that will leave a lump or two in your throat. Very powerful. Strange to me when animation affects me this way - they are cartoon characters - with simple cartoon faces - but every now and then they can burrow a hole into your emotional core.

This was a huge hit in Japan - not only the highest grossing anime but the highest grossing Japanese film of all time. I have to imagine that lots of people went to see it multiple times. Seeing this on the big screen would be wonderful. There is so much to praise here - not just the strange story that climaxes like a quiet thunderclap but all the atmosphere that surrounds it. The traditions, the temples, the rituals, the grandmother taking her two grandchildren for that walk through the woods, the friendships, the longing and the stunning rendering of the worlds the characters live in. If you watch the animation, there is so much going on in every shot - shadows changing, raindrops falling, people in the background going about their business. And attention is paid to the smallest of things - a soda can being opened or a teddy bear in a bedroom.

Falling stars and a winsome wish get the narrative started. Mitsuha is a teenage school girl living in a small rural town feeling as if the world is passing her by and so she wishes she could be a boy in Tokyo. Suddenly, she begins randomly exchanging bodies with Taki, a teenager in Tokyo. Initially, this is incredibly confusing as they try to fit into school in each other's body and wonder if they are just dreaming this. As they figure out what has happened they have to leave notes for the other as to what they did while possessing their body. Taki finds himself going on a date with a girl he had a crush on - all arranged by Mitsuha while in his body. But slowly the inevitable happens and they become drawn to one another and Taki wants to meet - but Mitsuha goes silent and their body switching stops. With his memories of her town he goes looking for her. That is when it gets really strange and powerful. And wonderful. This is special. I see that this got a release in the USA and did ok - $5 million - I am surprised to some degree because it feels so Japanese that I don't think it would translate all that well to American audiences - no action, no cuddly animals, no technology, no super heroes - just a love story across time and space. Seen in the Japanese language version.