Your Name.

Your Name. ★★★★★

One of my very favorite theatrical experiences from last year, Makoto Shinkai's Your Name made its mark as the fourth highest grossing film of all time in Japan, catching enough notoriety to garner a release in the west. It's not exactly difficult to understand why Your Name was met with such critical and financial success upon its release- for being a non-Ghibli anime film, its premise and structure are startlingly unique. Entwined within its realm of fantasy is an adrenaline-pumping pacing accompanied by a frequent playlist of rock theme songs, playing in the background of this subtle and heartfelt twist on a classic Freaky Friday story.

Everything about Your Name is like a dream. A dream you don't want to leave. You think you know everything about this dream, but the moment you wake from it, the memories instantly begin to fade. You can repeat everything you think you know about this dream, over and over again, but in the end it always turns out the same- the memories disappear. The moment Mitsuha and Taki get back into their own bodies, their memories of the last day begin to quickly fade away. These dreams are so real to the both of them- even their friends recall their own strange behaviors the previous days- but they themselves have no recollection of their time in each others' lives. They find themselves trapped in a frequent yet hauntingly beautiful dreamscape that, for reasons at first not yet known, will have the potential to change the course of history.

The emotional buildup throughout the two primary characters' relationship is driven by a sense of purpose. A constant need to find someone, anyone to hold on to, if only for a brief, shining moment. We want Mitsuha and Taki to find each other, to finally achieve that much-desired closure they deserve so much, but a mystical force stands between them. Their only forms of communication seem to be leaving notes and texts on each other's phones and permanent markers on their bodies. It's never really fully explained what really goes on between the two of them in this phenomenon, but it is never really necessary in the first place. Your Name is first and foremost a fantasy, touched by an ever so slight hint of romanticism. To regard it as anything but a fantasy would be folly- anyone unappreciative of the sense of wonder within Shinkai's stellar world-building will be left with much to be desired. It's not a typical creature-focused fantasy that's found in most of Studio Ghibli's greatest achievements- there's something more and unique to be discovered in Your Name. An unconventional tale of an unlikely friendship and finding a purpose in this world- a tale where two complete strangers, by no means other than what would appear to be nothing more than a dream- find each other in different worlds. Shinkai's clashing of the bustling Tokyo cityscape and a peaceful Japanese countryside coincide in perfect balance, alternating between Mitsuha and Taki in a frequently hilarious, yet genuine, discordance that serves as the strongest driving force behind these two characters' motivations.

Your Name is not just one of the most visually striking and remarkable films of the decade- perhaps even the century. It's undoubtedly one of the most personally invigorating films of the anime medium I've had the pleasure of experiencing. To call Your Name life-changing would appear as an overstatement; but if there were only a handful of films I could describe as such, then Makoto Shinkai's masterpiece would certainly be one of those selections. It's an uplifting and stylish achievement that somehow, even after a revisit, has never managed to leave my mind. I consistently find myself overcome with a desire to revisit its fantastical world. It's a waking dream that I never want to leave, and one I am certain I will never be likely to forget.

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