Japan’s Triumphant “Your Name” Is The Most Powerful Masterpiece of The Last Decade
By Scott Kurland
Film: Your Name
Starring: Michael Sinterniklaas, Stephanie Sheh, Katy Vaughn, Laura Post, Kyle Hebert, and Glynis Ellis
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Animation; it’s one of the greatest art forms to ever be introduced and integrated with cinema. Roger Ebert was once the biggest supporter of animated films, and championed all of its forms. In fact, it was Ebert’s review of “Spirited Away,” that made me really appreciate and start watching more Anime films; especially the works of Hiyao Miyazaki. There’s something to be said about the craft and the sheer amount of detail that goes into Anime. This month is the four year anniversary of Roger Ebert's passing and its such a shame that he is no longer with us because he would have loved this weeks film “Your Name;” the highest grossing Anime of Japan. Let’s find out how good it is shall we?
“Your Name” is the story of two teenagers living in different parts of Japan. First, there’s Mitsuha. She lives in Itomori; a small village thats miles away from any real civilization. How far you ask? Well, Itomori’s one café is a vending machine near a bus stop. Then there’s Taki; a quick-tempered young man living in the bustling city of Tokyo who struggles to make ends meet. One morning, Takiwakes up and discovers that he is Mitsuha, and Mitsuha wakes up and discovers that she is Taki. Its only after their friends and loved ones comment on their strange behavior that the two begin to realize that their experiences are real. With notebooks and cell phones as their only means of communication, Taki and Mitsuha struggle to keep their lives as normal as possible. What first starts out as a story of two young people walking a mile each others shoes slowly transforms into one of the most beautiful love stories to ever appear on the big screen. Will Taki & Mitsuha ever be able to meet one another in person? Or will they forever remain apart?
This film is a masterpiece, and it shows just how important 2D hand drawn animation really is. The kicker is this film isn’t really hand drawn. It’s actually a combination of CGI, rotoscoping, and character drawing. Honestly, I wish this would catch on in America (Disney & Warner Brothers I’m looking at you). Makoto Shinkai has crafted such a beautiful film that he is being hailed as the new Hiyao Miyazaki, and boy, I hope that sticks. Actually, no I don’tbecause Shinkai is as superior if not better then Miyazaki on his own merits. For starters, this story is so unique. We’ve seen body swapping films before, but never has there been a story featuring people of opposite genders. How they approach the body-swapping issue in this film is not only clever, it's comically accurate. What surprised me the most was how Shinkai played out the body-swapping for as long as he could, then moved the story forward cohesively and competently.
There’s three things that make “Your Name” one of the best films I have ever seen. One, there’s the story which is both unique and well told. Next, there's the gorgeous animation of Japan's scenery. Apparently Shinkai found real places for the fictional Itomori and simply animated those photos. If you wanted to visit this movie, technically you can because Tokyo is Tokyo and the village is real as well. The way in which Shinkai and his team animated the stars and the meteor shower should have automatically qualified them for an Oscar when they tried to qualify for the Oscar in 2016. Sadly, it did not. That infuriates me to a new level.
I wish they waited until this year to campaign for this film since 2017 isn’t going to be a great year for animated films. If Shinkai had waited until the American release this month, “Your Name” would have had a better chance of nomination. The
third component that makes “Your Name” a perfect film is the score and the original songs written and performed by Japanese Rock Band “RADWIMPS.” Their haunting score is reminiscent of when “Broken Social Scene” composed Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s “Half Nelson.” This is a beautiful soundtrack with instrumental pieces that either gave me chills or brought me to tears when they played alongside the animation. I dare you not to get their song “Zen Zen Zense” stuck in your head. Sure it’s in Japanese, but man is it catchy (there’s also an English version).
Lastly, the final detail that makes “Your Name” the best film I’ve seen in 2017 is the characters. The parallels of Taki and Mitsuha are subtle in the beginning, but once they swap, you see how similar they truly are. The way Shinkai has them fall in love is genius and very sweetly done. I’m not afraid to admit that I had tears in my eyes while watching several parts of this film-that show I know a film is worthy of an A+ grade. The previous record was Spike Jonze’s “HER” with 2 ½ Scott tears. “Your Name” doubled that because of how involved I got with these two characters. “Your Name” is the best film I’ve seen in the last two years, and I want to put this on my " Best Of" list. I don’t know if I should since it came out in 2016, but I will because it was released in the U.S. in 2017. I was never really big on Anime until I saw “Spirited Away,” and this film reignited my love for the genre. “Your Name” is a perfect film that everyone old and young should see. It’s a love story, a coming-of-age drama, and a brilliant thriller not to mention a great comedy. I wish there was grade higher than an A+ that I could give this film. It just might make my list of my top ten favorite films of all time. I saw this with subtitles. I will be seeing this again in the Dubbed version. See this film. You will not be sorry. Even if you hate anime, see it. If you love Anime, see it as many times as possible.
REVIEW RATING: A+