Anime Review: Your Name

Your Name Blu Ray cover

I hope that everyone is still having a good week, and are getting plans for the weekend solidified.

Things are going pretty well because I am finally able to have a break, as well as continue doing what I like to do.

A few days ago, I received some presents, which were mostly store credit, but among those presents, I got a movie that I felt like seeing.

Today, I will be reviewing that movie, which is called Your Name.

Taki Tachibana and Mizuha Miyamizu are both ordinary high schoolers, living in different areas in Japan, with hopes and dreams of their own.

However, because of mysterious circumstances, they begin switching bodies and they start to develop feelings for each other to the point where they want to meet, and there is something that is preventing that from happening.

Miyamizu family relaxing outdoors.

When I first heard that this movie was being screened where I live, I was going to write it off because Makoto Shinkai never really managed to impress me with any of his work that I have seen, such as The Garden of Words and 5 Centimeters per Second, and I viewed him as both overrated and overhyped, but remembering how I never really liked Isuna Hasekura before reading Spice ' Wolf, I thought that I would give him another chance.

And after watching this movie, I can say that I liked it, more than I thought I would.

From the moment that I started watching this movie, I found myself engrossed enough in it that I did not want to stop watching it for any reason, though I do have to satisfy the same needs as every other human being.

Now, considering how much hype this movie has gotten, I think that very few people would argue with this, as they would have been much more surprised if I hated it, but I was only able to do it when I was able to pay attention to the movie in near silence and I was able to go into it with neutral, if not positive, expectations.

Every time a creator puts out a work, it leaves behind a good or bad impression of him or her, and the more often they put out terrible content, people are going to get jaded and are either going to avoid them like the plague or see it just to see how much of a train wreck it would be, thereby making them patrons who are not really fans and probably will not ever grow to like them, which is where I put myself on the spectrum, since I rarely give creators any more than two works that not in the same series to impress me. This is why one of reasons why I make it a point try to talk about how well a work drew me in or failed to do so, other than the fact that it helps the reader or, in this case, the viewer to ignore even the smallest of flaws, and is a much better indicator of how good a work is than if the creator or staff that created it did everything right, because the things done right would only make it better.

Yes, some people would say that this is why things are only as good as you think they will be going into it, but my chance to watch it without the clouded belief that everything Makoto Shinkai creates is an abomination is not the only reason that I started feeling like giving praises to Makoto Shinkai.

In the other work that I have seen from Makoto Shinkai, there seemed to be something missing that prevented me from feeling like I had been taken to another and feel connected with the characters and have the same feelings they did, beyond things that I or anybody else has experienced, and the way things were largely handled were in a way that I highly doubt that changing the audio track from English, which I prefer to watch so that I do not have to worry about whether I have a headache or not, to Japanese and turning on the subtitles would have improved anything.

In the case of The Garden of Words, the big problem was with both how short it was, which was the equivalent of an hour-long television episode, and the way things were executed, which was also a problem with 5 Centimeters per Second, though the runtime, according to the stream on Crunchyroll, was a little over an hour. As a result, I got the feeling that Makoto Shinkai did not deserve to be called the next Miyazaki and made me feel disgusted that people thought that it was any good, as they cared more about the realism than the believability or how important it was to connect with the characters more than just putting yourself in their shoes.

Here, however, it seemed like Makoto Shinkai tried making the protagonists and those around them feel real and gave us some insight into who each character was and what they have been going through, so that I would not have to put myself their shoes, without knowing anything about them, thereby making it so that I am mistaking myself and where I am now for characters that have nothing going for them.

If that was not present in this movie, I would have hated it, regardless of how great the artwork and/or animation looked, because I would have only received further confirmation that Makoto Shinkai is nothing more than a hack, in spite of the fact that even he, himself, acknowledges that his work is not as good as people make it out to be.

Thankfully, Makoto Shinkai was able to show some improvement, and that makes me glad that I decided to give him a third chance.

Hopefully, his movies will only get better from here, because I would prefer this to be more than just a fluke, so that I can praise him more often than berate him.

Then again, Makoto Shinkai is human, just like the rest of us, so this could very well have been a fluke and the rest of his movies could end up being just as bad as the other two I saw from him.

Still, Makoto Shinkai does deserve some praise for doing something right for once, even if he is telling people that the movie is not as great as they think it is.

I also liked how the bond between Taki and Mizuha formed.

One of the things that made The Garden of Words such a terrible movie was how the growth from two people who happened to be in the same area once into something more because there was nothing there that suggested that either character had feelings for the other, even after all the time they spent together, yet the way things played out, I was supposed to believe that the male character's feelings for the teacher were real.

Yes, there are some differences between how adults and teens fall in love, but the only way that I could see a relationship develop with how things progressed in that movie was if they actually had a decent conversation going each time they met. Heck, even Mikoto Misaka's feelings for Touma Kamijou felt more realistic and believable than the male protagonist's crush on the adult woman.

Here, in this movie, the bond between the Taki and Mizuha seemed to be a bit more believable because there was actual communication between the two and they got to know each other by living the other person's life in addition to talking to each other through journals.

Because of this, I felt much more invested in the movie and could understand their longing much better than I could from the other characters from Makoto Shinkai's other work, as well as enjoy things more.

If this relationship was established as badly as the ones seen in the other two movies, I would have considered this movie to be just as much of a piece of trash that DBZ and SAO are considered today, and I would have regretted watching this enough to never support another title from Makoto Shinkai.

Thankfully, that was not the case, and I can at least give Makoto some applause for actually giving me reason to feel more the characters because the relationship did feel real.

Hopefully, this becomes more prominent in Makoto Shinkai's future projects, as he has finally been able to make something decent for once, and any improvements would show that he is becoming more competent beyond just producing great artwork and animation, but since two thirds of the films I have seen, and he was involved in making, have been rather poor outside of those two things, I am not too confident that he can do it.

Another nice thing about this movie were that there were quite a few things to laugh about.

While the humor found in this movie were not truly unique, especially when compared to works in the realm of gender bending, which may contain body swapping between genders, things were still executed well enough that I could get a good laugh.

In most of the movies I have seen from Makoto Shinkai, I have noticed that there is a lack of humor, and while that is not necessarily a bad thing, since works in the detective, mystery, and crime fiction genres do not usually have moments that one could consider funny, yet can be quite enjoyable, many fictional works still have a lively atmosphere mixed in with things that one would expect from tragedy or something else to help it feel more realistic.

However, Makoto Shinkai's work have only one emotional response all the way through, if any at all, and that ends up killing things much of the time to where I cannot really enjoy.

Fortunately, there were quite a few funny things to be found in this movie.

The funniest of which mostly happened whenever the protagonists switch bodies and/or find out what the other did, such as touching their own body and realizing they are a different gender and how they mess with each other's lives.

Seeing as this movie involves body swapping, this is something that would expected, but, unlike the expectations of many out there, due to the fact that Rightstuf lists as rated for ages 17 and older, things were played out in way that was closer to being family friendly, with things only that could enough come close to the perverted nature that anime comedy is usually associated with would be misunderstandings and weird realizations.

If these events had not occurred, I would have been truly disappointed because that would result in a body swapping movie that is very unbelievable, as Taki and Mizuha would have been navigating life just fine, no matter whose body they were in, and nobody would be suspecting a thing, unless they do not act like they usually do, whereas most people would be wondering if what they are seeing is actually true.

Fortunately, those events were not left out, and it really helped to liven things up a bit more than I what I have seen from Makoto Shinkai.

Hopefully, Makoto Shinkai can add in more comedic moments into his work, so that I do not feel numb from only feel one kind of emotion, because that would give me a bit more reason check out more of his work than I do right now.

The thing that I liked the most though was how this ended.

In the movies I have seen from Makoto Shinkai, he tends to have his work end on a sad note, with 5 Centimeters per Second being a good example, and I walk away from them extremely dissatisfied.

Now, this might make it sound like I only enjoy happy endings, but that is not why I am not particularly fond of the endings that Makoto Shinkai creates.

In the many works of fiction that I come across, the only thing that I expect to see is a good and satisfying ending, and when I come across a work with a satisfying end, such as the ending of Kotomi Ichinose's route in Clannad, the ending of the first Narcissu VN, or FMA Brotherhood, I feel like I truly read or watched something incredible and walk away feeling happy that I spent the time to go through, whereas most Makoto Shinkai's work makes it seem like I just wasted my time.

This is a feeling that many anime fans and readers would agree with, because a satisfying ending takes work to create than it does to create a happy or sad ending purely for the sake of having a happy or sad end, and if the audience detects that the ending was only put in so that things could end a certain, they would be very upset because that shows that the creator was lazy.

In this movie, even though I did kind of get a vibe that this was more of an alternate ending to 5 Centimeters per Second, as Mizuha and Taki kept missing each other for most of the last few portions of the movie, it came off as satisfying as both of them were actually seeking other out, in addition to looking another when they think they see somebody familiar.

When I first saw this moment, I was shaking my head, appalled that Makoto Shinkai would even think of ending things like this again, as the only difference between this and 5 Centimeters per Second was they at least did finally meet each other, but when I view it now, especially considering that it was a more optimal viewing experience and I could look at it without my strong bias against Makoto Shinkai, it did give off a different feeling and seemed to be a lot more satisfying.

If this had ended just like 5 Centimeters per Second, in that both Taki and Mizuha give up in the end, without even confirming their suspicions, I would have been even angrier because then Makoto Shinkai would have appeared to not only be a hack, but much lazy as well, which would have really put him on my list of creators to avoid at all costs, which includes John Grishman.

Thankfully, this more satisfying ending that the atrocity that was the ending to 5 Centimeters per Second's ending, and ended up saving Makoto Shinkai from the scrap heap.

Hopefully, he can put more work into his future titles, because I really hate to berate people for something that I knew that they poured their blood, sweat, and tears into, since I would not doubt that was Makoto Shinkai and the people helping him do a lot to make the movies that many have enjoyed.

Unfortunately, just like with how well this movie started, this may only be a fluke, so I would not be surprised if things took a turn for the worst.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could not be added into what I talked about already.

Because my attention was grabbed quickly and held until the end, unlike other works from Makoto Shinkai, there were things to laugh about, and were a bit friendlier to the audience than the rating listed online suggests, and that the ending was actually satisfying, this movie was fairly decent.

Mizuha thinking

Although I liked the movie, there are some issues.

However, aside from things that are too minor to talk and one thing that I brought up already, which I had more of a problem with in initial viewing, nothing really bothered me too much.

As a result, I will have to say that there is nothing worth mentioning.

Considering that there was quite a bit to like about this movie, enough so that it ended up being better that I thought it would be, this was definitely worth watching.

I mainly recommend this to fans of Makoto Shinkai and romance, as they will like this the most.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, as it was better than the last two movies I saw from Makoto Shinkai, but if you truly hate Makoto Shinkai's guts enough that you cannot go into this without having bad expectations, it would be best to skip this, because it is not good enough that it would change your mind about him.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or, if you have seen the movie and liked the music in it, buy the soundtrack from iTunes, so that I can find more worthwhile anime series or movies for you guys to watch.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.