Despite despising romance anime, I make an exception for one director: Makoto Shinkai. I’ve been a big fan of his ever since watching The Place Promised in Our Early Days, ironically, in my early days. His films are always stunning with impeccable animation and music, even if his films always seem like different ways of telling same story. What’s interesting about the anime he directs is that it doesn’t always have a happy ending, such as 5 Anime Wallpapers Per Second, leaving many “will they, won’t they” stories ending in a “won’t they.” This gives them a level of engagement that not many complete romance anime can claim to have. Your Name is one of these.
Kimi no Na wa uses a plot element like that of Kokoro Connect. That being the body swapping between characters of different sexes and an ensuing romance. As not to spoil the the story itself, I’ll go so far to say that, although adding another element that allowed it to go in a different direction, I felt that a lot of the explanations for them seem shoehorned in early on and don’t really justify how the characters act on them. The differences are interesting enough that it could have been great if they hadn’t brushed past them getting used to it in a montage that, along with the opening credits, made it seem like they wanted to split the film up into episodes so they might be able sell it as a series instead. I would have actually liked a few slice of life moments to solidify their relationship during the first half (I can’t believe I just said that).
As much as I have to nitpick with the story, it’s a Makoto Shinkai film, so it’s a pretty decent despite the flaws. The animation, the music and the delivery is all very effective to ring whatever emotion is desired out of the viewer, and although there are moments of, “But he just…!” and “But how are they…!” they don’t take you out of the film long enough to be noticeable by the average anime-goer. Maybe it’s because of my prejudice against romance anime, or maybe because of the hype leading me to watch it, but from all I’d read about this movie being “perfect” and “Oscar worthy,” I found it incredibly overrated as far as “masterpieces” go. I’ll be the first one to say you should go into this film expecting a good supernatural romance, that’s it.
In order to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, I’ll wrap this up as a short review. Granted, the heroine is better than the hero who gets most of the attention in the second half of the film, and granted, the story had enough exposition to be a part of an episodic series (as it seems to be structured like one), apart from all this, Your Name is a beautiful film that everyone should watch. Then again, I’d say you should watch ALL Makoto Shinkai films. If someone who hates romance anime like me can enjoy his stuff, then those open to romance anime will love it. No excuses romance fans, or any kind of anime fan, you should be watching his stuff, and Your Name is a decent place to start.
Total Rank: 9/10