It's PG, but it does have a weird CW sexual overtone to the movie. Like, it isn't overt, but I also didn't like my kid walking in on it. There was some lightly pervy things done as a running gag and the end gets a little bit intense, considering that most of the movie is just a fun premise. For once, I'm actually rooting for the PG-13, but who am I? I keep saying I want the MPAA to lighten up. Not this time.
DIRECTOR: Makoto Shinkai
Mr. Henson really wanted me to watch this movie. He's on an anime kick and is really thinking about doing a Literally Anything on anime films, focusing primarily on this one. His big thing was a question about why this wasn't nominated for an Academy Award. I kind of get his point. I can't go as far as to say this is the best movie of the year. I can't even say that it is the best animated movie of the year. Also, it came out in 2016, so I don't even know where that falls in terms of argument. But it is better than a few of the nominees. Why don't Japanese films really get the attention of other countries' films? It doesn't matter because the American animated film from Disney will always win.
I've never really been an anime guy. I've really tried. If you read my Ghost in the Shell review, you'll get the sense of how I feel about anime. The only stuff I really like the Studio Ghibli stuff. I also kind of like stuff that is super Westernized, like Afro Samurai, which shouldn't really count as anime because the only reason that I really like it is that it doesn't feel like anime. The storytelling in anime is always a bit weird to me. It takes what I like and takes it to the extreme. What I mean to say is that they take these really high concepts and take it to a level that cannot necessarily be processed or comprehended. Your Name has a bit of that. The concept in Your Name is pretty intense. A teenage guy in Tokyo wakes up as a teenage girl in a small village. When he goes back to sleep, he wakes up in his own body. Similarly, the teenage girl begins inhabiting his body in Tokyo. The swaps are random. There's a bunch of twists that happen from there, but that is really my point. What starts off as a fun fantasy premise goes into an absolutely crazy place. It keeps going as far as it can go. Instead of exploring what is an interesting premise as deep as it can go, Your Name, like many other animes I've watched, take it as far as it can go. This seems nitpicky to make a difference, but there is a very important distinction between the two ideas. I think that the very nature of body switching has such potential that it doesn't really need a heavy fantasy plot that ends up happening throughout the story. (I will say that I'm really avoiding spoilers right now because this movie leans heavily on spoilers to maintain the entertainment value. ) Perhaps we've seen the depths of body switching in other movies, so Your Name doesn't feel like treading over ground that has been walked upon. But that premise doesn't necessarily have to explore the same ideas time and again. There are so many ways to look into the body switching trope that I don't like the idea that it is treated in montage form. But I actually like the complicated plot in this one. I just think it was an odd choice to fly by what could have been a goldmine of emotion and exploration.
I'm really not used to this particular subgenre of anime. I don't quite know the rules. If I actually have a reader that is a big anime fan, I would love some things clarified. There is a really weird format to Your Name that I'm not used to seeing in film. If anything, despite the fact that the movie is animated, it feels like a CW tv show for much of the film. The movie opens with an opening credit sequence teasing the events of the film. I'm not talking about a James Bond style opening, but it shows almost a highlight reel of what will be happening in the film. Also, and I know that montage sequences happen in American films to show that time is passing and that characters are developing, the montage sequence is really alienating. It feels like they stuck a movie trailer for the movie I'm watching in the middle of the movie I'm watching. They already have my money. Why is the film trying to advertise me watching this movie? It was really weird. Unlike other anime that I've seen, the movie doesn't try taking advantage of the medium of animation to do unique camera angles and shots. When I watch other anime, the coolest part of the anime is that it is visually insane. Your Name is pretty insane, but in the way that they went out of their way to mimic live action film techniques. Like, they animated stop motion over and over again. I can't shake the CW description. There are all these pop punk soundtrack moments in the montages, showing the characters speaking but we can't hear them. Like, did they animate a whole bunch and then just scrap the audio? That helps real actors, but we never get context for a lot of those conversations. It is really weird, but also supports the tone. This seems like it is aimed at teens. Maybe teens love this kind of stuff. It's really weird as a gross old man watching a movie aimed at a clearly teen audience. But I don't know how these things work in Japan. All I know is that Mr. Henson loves this and that might be telling of him.
The best part of the movie is the connection between Taki and Mitsuha. It doesn't matter that the movie is animated. I like the bond that they create. I know that a lot of it happens in the montage, which is fine. I wanted to see it grow a little bit more organically. But their story works because both are compelling enough characters. It's very interesting to describe a relationship between two people who don't really meet in the movie (kind of...again. I'm avoiding spoilers). But they both grow as people. The only thing that I feel might either be a cultural theme or I'm just super woke is the perviness of Taki. I mentioned this in the MPAA part because it made me uncomfortable. Taki takes advantage of being in a girl's body a bit too much, even after Mitsuha puts rules upon him. I can see an element of that being funny, but it also is wildly uncomfortable. I am trying to figure out how their relationship is compelling and I think I get it. It is the way that other people react when they are body switching. But that also opens another Pandora's box. This movie, and this has to be my greatest criticism, is set up to be watched with a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief. There are so many answers that aren't offered in the main plot that make the story just enjoyable if you shut off your brain. I'm not saying the movie isn't smart. I actually think that it is very smart. But there are just so many anime moments (moments that don't really get a solid explanation) that it becomes confusing how they get it to work. I'm really hampered by my vagueness, but the major discovery in the second half of the film is completely unable to be understood. People also are either weirdly skeptical of the events of the movie or know exactly how it works without sharing with the viewer. That's fine. I tend to want all my loose ends wrapped up, but that doesn't really detract from the movie. Going back to the purpose of this paragraph, the love story in it is fantastic. It is so unique and rarely do I get a real sense of chemistry from animated characters. (Except for Carl and Ellie. Why, Pixar? Why?)
It isn't a perfect movie and I really don't feel like watching another adolescent love anime for a while because I know that I'm not the target audience. But I also acknowledge that I get why people like this. I liked it enough to consider it "pretty good", but I'm sure that this is an exceptional example rather than the norm. It's a good watch, but I got it out of my system.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.