Review: 'Your Name' shows us the beauty of everyday existence

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 107 minutes (~1.75 hours)

“Your Name” (also known as “<your name.>”) is a 2D animated fantasy romance in which a male and female teenager swap bodies at random. It shows how both characters learn to cope with the switches, even though they cannot remember each other’s name after the switch. It features the voice talents of Ryunosuke Kamiki (Taki Tachibana), Mone Kamishiraishi (Mitsuha Miyamizu), Masami Nagasawa (Miki Okudera), Etsuko Ichihara (Hitoha Miyamizu). It is rated PG.

“Your Name” is probably one of the best animated features this year, even rivalling “Zootopia” for its skillful use of emotional resonance and powerful visuals to tell its story. What makes it so effective is that the stakes aren’t earth-shattering, but personal. It concentrates on two characters and their ordinary lives - if they can’t achieve their goals, the world would not suffer for it. Instead of a broad canvas, this film covers only a little bit of ivory, two inches wide, requiring the use of the finest brush. And it creates a greater effect than some blockbuster films this year, showing us that it’s the little things that count.


Breathtaking scenery and backdrops

The locations look like expensive pieces of art, giant swathes of land painted with loving care. Whether it’s a modern metropolis or a quiet village, an apartment bedroom or a vending machine by the road side, they are all romanticised as idyllic havens. That’s not to say there aren’t imperfections in the locations. But instead of perfection, the artwork strives for character, giving colour and personality to places we wouldn’t give a second thought about.

The wonderful simplicity and mundane objects

There are constant close-ups of everyday items, and they’re rendered in the same careful detail as the locations. The animation brings out the otherwise overlooked details of these common objects, helping immerse us in the “Your Name” universe while showing us the beauty of the things we hold everyday. It implicitly encourages us to slow down and enjoy the moment by setting an example in the film itself, and showing us just how wondrous our world is, even if it isn’t a fantasy.

Organic, character-driven romance

The story is almost completely character-driven (except for one painful plot beat) and grows its characters organically by letting their actions dictate what happens next, even if this may sometimes bring us into strange and random segues. This leads to a romance that actually feels modern and deserved, in that the two characters are completely opposites, yet fall in love despite virtually never meeting each other. It’s a love that’s born of connection rather than passion, which is a refreshing take on romances.

So many near-misses

Sometimes you just want to reach out and grab the characters after seeing the number of near-misses they have, especially towards the end of the film. You desperately want them to find each other, yet they seem unable to even if they’re within view of each other. The dramatic irony also highlights a more subtle theme in the film, that we look but do not see, and only in the climax is our need to see them together finally sublimated.


Deliberate, artificial ignorance of Taki

Unfortunately, Act Three springs into action only upon a very heavy-handed manipulation of the plot, in which Taki forgets about a national event that rocked the world only a few years ago. It’s unbelievable that someone as savvy and connected as Taki would be so ignorant about the event (to the point that his friends have to explain the disaster to him, a contrivance which also doubles up as convenient exposition). Yet Taki has to be this ignorant for the story to progress. He behaves true to character otherwise, which makes this one occasion all the more frustrating.

“Your Name” shows us to look beyond ourselves and see the true beauty of life.

Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? Yes.

Should you watch this more than once? If you like the art design.

Score: 4.1/5

“Your Name” opens in cinemas:
- 3 November 2016 (Singapore)
- 8 December 2016 (Malaysia)

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes The views expressed are his own.