Anime Movie Review: “Your Name” (君の名は)

By | April 10, 2018

Although the hit anime film “Your Name” (君の名は) has been out for around a year and a half, I finally got around to watching it (yes, it was as great as I had heard). While there are probably hundreds (thousands?) of reviews on this movie floating around the net, I thought I might as well post my own.

Generally I am less of a fan of works (novels, movies, anime, manga, etc.) that are universally popular. Sure, I’m human too, and there is a good chance I like something a bunch of other people like, but part of me has a “like what is different” streak. That means I tend to enjoy things that are off the beaten path, that sometimes have more of a cult following than a universal following.

But I had really enjoyed several other Makoto Shinkai films, such as “The Garden of Words” (言の葉の庭), so I couldn’t help but watch “Your Name” once I heard it was available digitally on Amazon. By the way, there are several versions on Amazon, and I watched the “original Japanese Version“, which of course has Japanese audio (with English subtitles). I’m not sure if the other version(s) have Japanese audio.

First of all, I can say with high confidence that the films of Makoto Shinkai have, by far, the best visuals of any anime movies to date. While I have enjoyed many Ghibli films, there visuals are clearly a step below. Furthermore, from what I have heard, many of the Ghibli movies were created based on some existing story, whereas most (all?) of the Makoto Shinkai films are from new material. Amazingly, Makoto Shinkai is listed as the director and editor for “Your Name”, as well as the creator of the screenplay and cinematography.

Although I tend to enjoy complex and cryptic stories (to the point where I struggle to comprehend what is going on), “Your Name” was quite the opposite–a very simplistic premise, that while containing ‘mysterious’ or ‘fantasy’ elements, was nevertheless universal. I won’t say that this movie’s story is the most complex, or even the most unique I’ve seen. But it’s quite well crafted and skillfully produced, to the point where I’m not surprised it has gained so much popularity.

This is also a great film for Japanese learners. A majority of the lines avoid specialized terms and are good for those seeking everyday conversation listening practice. While some of the dialogue is an a dialect from Tochigi Prefecture(栃木県), it’s not that difficult to understand the gist of what is being said.

One of the only minor complaints I had is that some of the music in the earlier parts of the film is quite heavy and I felt didn’t mesh too well the detailed, artistic visuals. But as the story progressed the soundtrack became mellower, and by the end I was really getting into the music. (As a side point, I felt the band that did the soundtrack, Radwimps, has a very similar sound to one of my favorite Japanese rock bands, Quruli. But it may because that sound is popular now in Japan.)

The English translation of this movie’s title is a bit of an interesting topic, since literally it means something like “As for your name…?” But, after some consideration, I can’t think of a more suitable title that is short and to-the-point as the simple “Your Name”. Something like “Who are you?” is closer in a sense, but it lacks the impact of “Your Name”. While I am on the topic of translation, the English subtitles were pretty good, at least when I was paying attention to them. There was a few minor issues I had, but nothing critical.

Basically, I can’t really think of any reason to not watch this movie. While you probably could find problems with it if you tried to pick it apart, as a whole it’s a wonderfully entertaining film. But I think that, at this point, I’m probably mostly preaching to the choir (:

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