Let’s be honest, body swap films generally tend to be fairly similar. Two people (either opposite genders or older/younger) swap bodies, a couple of humourous situations follow, then everything goes back to normal and both parties have learned some kind of moral lesson. Same old, same old.
I was thus incredibly pleased when I saw that Your Name, while comedic, goes in a vastly different direction and ends up being the best anime film I have seen since 2013’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya.
Your Name follows the stories of Taki (voiced by Ryunosuke Kamiki) and Mitsuha (voiced by Mone Kamishiraishi), two high school students living in Tokyo and the small town of Itomori respectively.
The film fortunately doesn’t waste anytime trying to explain how the body swap happened, instead choosing to have our characters believe they are dreaming. But both work out the truth pretty quickly. As neither of them are able to control the swaps (which are random), both characters have to jump through a bunch of convoluted hoops to try and stop the other from accidentally ruining their lives.
It’s this first development that elevates Your Name above previous body swap films as the suspense is not based on whether things will get back to normal, but rather whether these two lovable characters can ever find each other.
But to reveal anything more would ruin the fantastic plot and character developments that screenwriter Makoto Shinkai has managed to craft. By some miracle/excellent screenwriting, Shinkai has perfectly blended a wide variety of genres and tones, and never leans too far in any one direction.
The incredible writing is beautifully accompanied by some of the best animation ever crafted. From the dazzling sequence of a passing comet to the hustle and bustle of a lively Tokyo, this is less a film and more a work of art that comfortably rivals the best from Hollywood.
But art need not only be visual as the soundtrack/score, by Japanese rock band RADWIMPS, also manages to impress as they skillfully fuse youth and energy with music of the more melancholic and somber kind.
While the large majority of people and cinemas will be focused on the release of Disney’s Moana, it’s clear to me that Your Name is the one that deserves to achieve true success.