‘Your Name’ is a beautiful film in every way that counts. It’s gorgeously animated, with a great style that makes every frame full of color and life. The voice actors give strong performances which makes for what feels like living and breathing characters. The soundtrack is great and gives life to the film. And, most of all, ‘Your Name tells a simply beautiful story of love and loss.
(Spoilers for ‘Your Name’ will follow, I recommend watching the film before reading)
‘Your Name’ is the newest film from critically acclaimed anime director Makoto Shinkai (‘Voices of a Distant Star’, ‘5cm per Second’) and feels very much like an evolution of his previous work, touching the same themes of love, loss and coming-of-age. Shinkai tells the story of two teenagers, Mitsuha, a young girl that lives in small village in the mountains, and Taki, a teenage boy that lives in Tokyo. The two teens intermittently start switching bodies, slowly realizing that what they’re going through is real and communicating to each other by leaving notes for when they switch back. They go through adventures and disasters and slowly fall in love with one another, until the switches end and they forget everything even each other’s name.
The beauty of ‘Your Name’ comes from its understanding of love. Love comes from slowly getting to know someone, from understanding someone, from truly knowing them. Normally, this would happen by being with someone, talking to them, spending time with them, but, instead, Mitsuha and Taki fall in love by literally being each other. What better way to know someone than by being them, and by them being you. By seeing their life through their eyes, and how the people around them see them. By seeing how they would live your life. Both protagonists truly feel like they know each other and that’s how they fall in love and, for a few shining moments, that love is so strong and bright and powerful, it outshines everything else, But then comes the loss.
The film deals with loss as the complete opposite of love. If love is knowing someone, losing them is forgetting them, forgetting their whole person, their life, the shared memories, the conversations and, most of all, forgetting each others`s names. When the body switches end for good, both Taki and Mitsuha are left without any memories of the experience they shared, they are left without their love, with a void in their heart and this strong feeling of loss. They feel lost because they both know something is wrong, something is missing in their life. Their loss is the opposite of love and it can be as strong and it can destroy as their love was beautiful and inspired them.
‘Your Name’ builds then destroys its two protagonists. It makes them fall in love, then makes them forget and leaves them lost. Until it doesn’t. Mitsuha and Taki get to see one another again, years later, now adults. And they know, as soon as they lay their eyes on each other, that they found what they’ve been looking for. They don’t know how or why, but they just know. The movie ends with this encounter and with them asking the first question, maybe the most important question, to getting to know someone, the first step to their new journey, the first step to falling in love all over again: “What’s your name?”