VOD film review: Your Name
Ivan Radford | On 11, Dec 2017Reading time: 2 mins
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Cast: Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Ryô Narita
Watch Your Name online in the UK: iTunes
Anime has always struggled to find an audience in the UK and other Western countries, mostly because of a lack of distribution – sites such as Crunchyroll and Viewster have become essential for fans to keep up to date legally. Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, though, has finally made it on to UK VOD, including Amazon Prime Video – and, after breaking box office records left, right and centre in Japan, it deserves to find the biggest audience possible.
The film follows two teenagers (Taki in Tokyo, Mitsuha in the country), who find themselves able to exchange places when dreaming. Shinkai seizes the opportunity for some body-swapping comedy, which is played to delightful effect by Ryûnosuke Kamiki and Mitsuha Miyamizu, their voices just the right balance of naive optimism, young fear and wistful curiosity. They discover each other’s physical differences, but in a cartoonish, innocent way, before learning to leave messages on each other’s phones to track down the other.
But that recognisable, accessible phenomenon paves the way for something more cosmic – a journey of time, space and more that combines the emotional fallout of 2011’s tsunami and earthquake with the uplifting rush of young romance. Part sci-fi, part traditional Japanese culture, this is an epic of wit and weight, which sinks its roots in the permanent nature of heritage but is happiest gazing at the stars above our heads. Memory, loss and catharsis are all wrapped up in a tale of national as well as personal identity.
All that substance is wrapped up in an impeccable surface, as Shinkai’s team of animators craft a visually dazzling experience, which ranges from smudged, watercolour-like flashbacks and rotoscope-style images to stunning visions of a comet flying through the sky. It’s charming and funny and bursting with imagination, but on top of that, Your Name is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful animations you’ve ever seen. Jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring cinema.