Movie Review: Your Name - Japan's mind and gender-bending blockbuster


Your Name is on limited release in select NZ cinemas from December 1.

YOUR NAME (PG,  106 mins)  Directed by Makato Shinkai ★★★★½ Reviewed by James Croot

Spending 12 weeks atop the Japanese box office earlier this year, this sci-fi infused anime is a powerful and poignant tale that deserves to be seen on the big screen.

Writer-director Makato Shinkai manages to elegantly translate some of the "survivor guilt" and wounds from the 2011 earthquakes into a compelling narrative involving two disparate teens who find their lives bound together by the arrival of a once-in-a-lifetime comet.

Stuck in picturesque two-pub town Itomori, Mitsuha also has the added burden of being the Mayor's daughter. Meanwhile, over in Tokyo, shy Taki juggles a part-time waiting job with his schoolwork. What they share are memory problems and vivid images of living another life – each other's lives.

Discovering they can connect their smartphones, the pair attempt to at least try to put some rules and order around their seemingly random "body swaps". But when they suddenly cease, Taki is determined to track down Mitsuha. However, he is unprepared for what he uncovers.

Mitsuha and Taki are the disparate, but mysteriously linked teens in Your Name.

Mitsuha and Taki are the disparate, but mysteriously linked teens in Your Name.

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While the animation style and themes may echo the much revered work of Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, The Wind Rises), Your Name also possesses an edge and slightly different sensibility that sets it apart.

J Pop group Radwimps contribute a number of evocative songs, while there's a couple of genuinely jawdropping moments, as the plot twists in unexpected directions. Yes, it feels like a bit of melange of pop culture sci-fi ideas from the past few decades (think Frequency-meets-Quantum Leap by way of Freaky Friday, A Wrinkle in Time and City of Angels), but it's infused with such intrigue, innocence and  intellect that it's hard not to be swept along for the ride.

Credit too some equally impressive cinematic touches, from time-lapse sequences to stunning match shots, with the crisp and nuanced animation adding to the compelling nature of the story.

Proof that the artform isn't just for entertaining kids with talking animals, dancing trolls and fart gags.

In Japanese with English subtitles.

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