As soon as this movie began in the packed Cambridge Arts Picturehouse last night I started to smile because I could feel that I was about to see something really special and that smile did not go away for the rest of the evening!
Two high school kids who’ve never met – city boy Taki and country girl Mitsuha – inexplicably begin to switch bodies overnight whilst they dream. They spark up a relationship through exploration of each other’s lives and through communication via their phone diaries. Things get more complex as the story progresses however the less you know about that going in the better. The narrative vision in this movie absolutely floored me and I can unequivocally say that I am going to go back and watch Makoto Shinkais entire back catalogue because if they resonate or affect me even half as much as Your Name did then it will be time well spent.
The absolutely stunning artistry and animation flow over you like a tidal wave of beauty. It evokes memories of films from the past yet feels completely fresh, like you have never seen anything quite like it before. The sound design and mixing is superb and what can at one second be tender and emotive turns to rambunctious shredding guitars and exuberant J-pop. The entire soundtrack provided by RADWIMPS is actually a triumph in itself and I have listened to it a few times already since seeing the film.
There is a surprising amount of humour present throughout and because the characters and the locations are so quintessentially Japanese we also get that wonderful quirkiness that makes the culture so lovable and fascinating, at least to this man here!
The main reason this film has effected me so much, and the same reason why I am sure it will become better and better with each viewing, is our two main characters! The way these two interact is just so unique and lovable. The premise itself allows them to bond on a more personal level, far more intriguing than the usual teenage love story where boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy gets girl. Eventually, you become so invested in their strange relationship, that when all the action goes down, it’s no longer just suspenseful – it’s almost heartbreaking. I would say it is almost a 50/50 split between laugh out loud comedy and world shattering drama and I don’t think that is a feat that is easy to pull off.
This is without a doubt my favourite animated feature of the year and is now right in my Top 10 films of 2016 overall. It is beautiful, inventive, hilarious, heartbreaking, and a dream to behold!
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