Though it’s beholden to many of anime’s worst, most irritating instincts – namely a sometimes-overwrought tone and at least three J-pop interludes too many – the latest effort from Makoto Shinkai (aka “the new Hayao Miyazaki”) delivers an affecting mind-bender of a star-crossed romance, with Shinaki unsurprisingly doing his own source novel solid justice.
Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi) is a despondent high-schooler who desperately wishes she was a wealthy boy living in Tokyo, and promptly does so, waking up in the body of Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki), who conversely wakes up in Mitsuha’s body at odd intervals. The pair then begin communicating with one another by leaving messages to be read when they randomly return to their original bodies, causing a fondness to build just as Taki realises that Mitsuha is in an incredible amount of danger.
Shinaki’s story thankfully transcends a premise that feels immediately derived from romantic Hollywood dross like The Lake House – ironically a remake of a South Korean movie – by imbuing it with unexpected intelligence and emotional urgency, even when the very, very Japanese excess of emotion and flirtation with mawkishness results in some occasional eye-rolls.
Sinaki doubles down on the characters, who are palpably drawn and therefore manage to invest the audience in the juvenile romance no matter the individual viewer’s age as well as the more supernatural facets of the narrative.
And of course, it’s a visual feast, evoking the painterly, pared-down but undeniably entrancing look that characertises a Studio Ghibli production, propping the pic up even when those pesky aforementioned musical numbers threaten to let ennui run amok.
Though not the classic it’s been hailed as, Your Name is a gracefully endearing, heartfelt animated romance for the most part, even if less ardent anime fans might not be quite so tolerant of some of its less-savoury affectations.
Your Name is in cinemas on limited release now