Dateline v. Your Name (君の名は)

Your Name / 君の名は (2016)

Rated PG: For Some Language and Sensitive Themes, and Smoking

Running Time: 106 minutes (1 hour and 46 minutes)

Genre/s: Anime, Drama, Fantasy, Romance

Released on August 26, 2016 (JP Release Date; Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by CoMix Wave Films and Toho

Based On "Your Name." By Makoto Shinkai

Writer and Director: Makoto Shinkai

  • Ryunosuke Kamiki as Taki Tachibana
  • Mone Kamishiraishi as Mitsuha Miyamizu

Get ready for an anime film that features one of the most unrealistic love stories ever told in cinema, combining coming-of-age drama and comedy with a huge bunch of seeming magical nonsense, but somehow manages to depict love more realistically than most romantic movies? Wow. 

The movie court is now in session! I have been hearing a lot of insights from my school's Twitter-sphere commenting on just how darn powerful this artistic work of animation, with other critics even showering it with the same amount of near-endless praise. We naturally gave in to our curiosity, and watched the "subbed" version. So help us God, we will determine truthfully if this movie lives-up to the word-of-mouth hype. Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and this is the case of Dateline v. Your Name (君の名は).

In case it is still not yet obvious, a spoiler alert is a must! Seriously, if you have not watched this yet, you might want to leave. Some of the plot points we will be discussing are essential to the narrative, and spoiling you might just ruin the entire experience for you.

What is the movie about?

Teenagers with big dreams, workaholic architecture aspirant Taki Tachibana, voiced by Kamiki (Spirited Away), and weary provincial girl Mitsuha Miyamizu, voiced by Kamishiraishi (Wolf Children) are living their lives in search of something vague. Something important. Something that is like a dream.

To their shock and initial confusion, Taki and Mitsuha discover that they have switched bodies, for an unknown cause. With almost no choice but to move along with their lives, in each other's bodies, Taki and Mitsuha decided to help each other with their own personal lives.

What follows Taki and Mitsuha's strange encounters is a journey across time and space that will help them discover what they have been looking for their entire lives. For them to find it, they must go against all odds in order to be by each other's side, and to always never lose sight on who each of them truly are.

The Defense:
  • A contemporary love story you should actually care about? Finally.
Actually, what we mean is that this film has a love story that is quite unlike everything that we have ever seen before. No cliches will ruin your movie-viewing experience. Admittedly, in structure, it is not exactly original, as all you need to do is watch The Lake House starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock for you to understand the movie, but it will not matter, because like (500) Days of Summer, and La La LandYour Name nevertheless offers a pretty unique take on the genre.

There are only a few movies like Your Name that have really struck the audience so hard. Almost none of most romantic-drama catalogue actually reached the same heights as Your Name did. It is not the usual "you will never know what you have until it is gone" parable. It is not the cheesy, mainstream "guy tries to get girl" story. It does not adhere to typical romantic movie cliches. The almost complete absence of tropes, plus the added twists of mysticism, enable the characters to truly shine, and make them as people that the audience can easily identify with. With exceptionally brilliant voice work from Kamiki and Kamishiraishi, you simply cannot help but root for Taki and Mitsuya to just be together.

In fact, what sets this movie apart from various other romantic movies is its creation of two organically developed characters. As we have said before, neither Taki nor Mitsuya fall under a specific stereotype, and no, neither of them fell in love out of the blue. Instead, they caught feeling for one another after getting to know each other better through their body-swapping antiques. They get to literally live each other's lives, experience each of their respective struggles, and through all of that, they understand each other. All of these culminate into one big weird love story that is neatly wrapped with a beautiful red bow.

  • RADWIMPS excellently sweeps you away with their heart-tugging songs.
Thank God for RADWIMPS! It is not everyday when you get to hear a movie soundtrack done by a band, instead of a composer, that is surprisingly good. Local Japanese band RADWIMPS' sweet and melodramatic tones perfectly reflect the film's emotional overly sentimental mood. My personal picks for their album, which is currently available in Spotify, are "Dream Lantern", and "Zenzenzense" (Past Past Past Life), which are the two most upbeat tunes in the soundtrack, and the only two that fall under the pop-rock genre. Their instrumentals are also pretty good, but for me, the ones featuring their vocals are absolutely the best. Also, as an honorable mention, the last two tracks that feature vocals, which are also the most sentimental tracks, including "Sparkle", and "Nandemonaiya" (It's Nothing), will surely bring tears to your eyes.

Honestly, the entire album is just golden, and those two aforementioned tracks are not the only ones that are worth listening to. Seriously, you should listen to all of the tracks on Spotify.

  • The animation is beautifully done, and the end result is just a stunning sight for sore eyes.
Japan is clearly one of the greatest when it comes to animation, and it is no surprise that this little feature is just stunning to look at. The animation is titanium smooth, and crystal clear. The character movements, from the facial expressions, to the designs, everything is breathtaking to behold. I also love the visuals on the background, and all of the colors burst into one grand spectacle at the climactic scenes, when both Taki and Mitsuha finally get to meet. Also, the day-to-night time-lapse transitions, and the animation of the comet, the plot device, are just gorgeous to look at, and every single detail from the scene when both Taki and Mitsuha are altering the past, is just art in motion.

  • The movie is just absolutely bold and thought-provoking in execution and style. Basically, it deserves more than one viewing.
The movie is all about a deeper meaning on the concept of love at first sight. Yes, a lot of other romantic movies, even the great ones, also tackle this idea, but Your Name offers something else: an artistically surreal take on love, which we will be discussing deeper later, and most especially, a non-manipulative way of making viewers shed tears. It simply means that all those times that the movie literally asks you to cry, you will cry, because it does not feel forced.

There is just a lot of emotional moments to mention, from Taki's shocking of discovery of the truth that the Mitsuya he knows died years ago, to Taki and Mitsuya's eventual, and totally expected, and anticipated, reunion five years after the events of the comet. However, if I were to pick among those moments that is the most touching, it would have to be, obviously, Taki and Mitsuya's first ever meeting in the present day (The plot is confusing, but worry not, we will get to that later). It is a beautiful and heartwarming tipping point of the entirety of the movie that will just leave you at the edge of your seat.

But the best thing about this film is, for me, the underlying message of Your Name. Actually, I had to ask Dad, and even subscribing to a few die hard film analysts, about what the entire point of the film is. To my discovery, it is all about dreams. It might sound weird, but yeah, it really is all about dreams. That feeling that you dream of something, or probably someone, so captivating, but due to it being a dream, you barely even remember him or her. In short, the people who are meant for you lie in your dreams. Sad. A really sad message when you think about it, but a very meaningful, and a little bit hopeful, one.


The Prosecution:
  • Beneath a sweet love story is a series of complex plot threads that might be confusing for some.
This is honestly the only thing that might prevent anyone else from truly enjoying the magic that this movie has. Although this is not to say that the writing is horrible, because it actually is darn magnificent, it is just that people might get swept away with all of the fantasy and romantic elements that the story has. Mind you, I encountered this problem 

To sum it all up though, just imagine the past and present, unbound-to-time communication from the movies  Frequency and The Lake House, which is pretty much the Americanized version of this, but older, and unlike The Lake House, the plot is combined with the body-swapping strangeness of Freaky Friday

Still confused? Fear not! Allow me to explain to you in a more complete manner.

Basically, the entire story is all about Taki and Mitsuha suddenly switching bodies at random. At first, they thought it was just a dream, until they realize that everything is real. Thinking that they have no control over the phenomenon, they decide to live their lives for awhile in each other's shoes. Mitsuha, in Taki's body, decides to help him win over the affection of his co-worker, and also secret admirer, Miki Okudera, voiced by Masami Nagasawa (Our Little Sister), while Taki, taking over Mitsuha, makes her one of the popular kids in school.

Things get complicated, however, when both of them, after a sweet, sweet series of bonding through notes left behind, while they are in each other's bodies, stopped swapping. After an awkward date with Miki, Taki decides to call Mitsuha for the first time in forever, but he does not receive an answer. He tries to find her hometown, only to discover that five years ago, it was crushed under the weight of a giant comet, during the time when Mitsuha and her family were doing a ritual, in honor of their deity, or something. This reveals that Taki was only communicating with the past, now deceased, version of Mitsuha, through some weird time-related phenomenon that runs through Mitsuha's bloodline, in order to prevent disasters that will doom the family tree. For some reason, no one bothers to ask or even explain as to why have Taki be Mitsuha's vessel, of all people in the world. 

Desperate to reunite with her, Taki vows to help her evade that horrifying fate. Taki ventures through the remains of the village, and for some odd reason, Taki thinks that by drinking the sake that was made by him, in Mitsuha's body, for the aforementioned ritual for their god, will have him reconnect with Mitsuha in some way, which strangely enough works. After drinking the potentially rotten sake, Taki's consciousness goes on a psychedelic trip through time, and now, in Mitsuha's body, Taki sets-out to prevent the people living in the village from perishing.

Meanwhile, Mitsuha wanders the present day in Taki's body, and as fate would have it, their respective consciousness meet in a specific crossroad in time, located atop the village mountain. After talking for awhile, with them asking each other to write their names on each other's hands, but instead of doing so, Taki decides to write "I love you", while Mitsuha attempted to do the same, but not before disappearing into time (Sobs), Mitsuha, now in her body, convinces her father, the mayor Toshiki, played by Masaki Terasoma (The Princess and the Pilot).

In the end, they do not meet in the present day, and neither recall the events of that day. To the joy of everyone, myself included, the town was saved. Well, actually, the town itself is still destroyed, but the people are safe and sound. With Mitsuha alive, including her entire family, Taki, now an architect, gets a chance encounter with Mitsuha in the now present future. Taki proceeds to follow her through train, and finally he gets her attention, and both proceed to, at the same time, ask each other's name. The end.

See? I told you it was confusing ... and also wonderful. Very heartwarming, and all that. (Sobs even further) To be straight, that was just me nitpicking. Please just watch this fascinating piece of cinema, right this second! I mean it! Do it!

The Ruling: Not Gulity

One of the finest anime movies yet, that I know of at the moment, Your Name is easily a must see, thanks to its colorful visuals, spectacular writing, and gut-wrenching emotional gravitas!

And there you have it! Case closed. Now that right there, is one awesome movie! I just cannot see why would its own creator not like it. It is a mystifying masterpiece, I tell you. A masterpiece! But hey, I cannot blame. It is his own assessment of his own work.

I do hope that you watch this, and I do recommend that you do it quickly, because inevitably, Hollywood is aiming to cash-in on the popularity by making a remake, which we have all known by now, never ever ends up well. J.J. Abrams, if you are listening, please do not mess this up! You are a good director, and I trust you do what is best for this movie.

And before we wrap all of this up, here is a piano version of "Zenzenzense" by RADWIMPS, done by Theishter - Anime on Piano. If you thought the vocalized version was great, wait until you hear this one. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!


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