The kids are into the Japanimation, as kids these days are, but even so, we had no information on this film, Your Name, and no strong inclination to see it. We’re not familair with the director’s (Makoto Shinkai) work and its remarkably high (98/94%) Rotten Tomato score is not entirely convincing, as one could assume a certain self-selection among those who had seen it and rated it—i.e., weeaboos. In fact, The Boy went to see it with His Girl first, and his recommendation was strong enough to incline The Flower and I to take in a later show.
And, here’s the thing: The movie starts out as a pretty standard body-switching caper, done in the light Japanese style where a city boy wakes up in the body of a country girl (and vice-versa), and the two inadvertently mess with each others’ lives—inadvertently at first, then mischievously later on. But then, on a dime, the whole gets a lot darker and a lot more serious, and the light romantic comedy (reminiscent in some ways of Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock light fantasy/romance “The Lake House”) reveals a tragedy underneath.
The movie is recommendable, at least to a certain audience, as a frothy teen manga interpretation (and I don’t know if it is based on a manga; I don’t think it is) but when it knocks into twelfth gear, if you’ve bought into it up to this point, it manages an artful tone transition and resonates a little more deeply. There’s mystery, suspense and high stakes (though not ridiculously high stakes as is increasingly common these days). And you don’t really know how it’s going to turn out, though you have to imagine certain endings would be a little too dark.
In fairness, a great many endings would’ve been a little too light as well. This one ends on a hopeful but almost bittersweet note.
We ended up enjoying it very much. It was beautifully animated—again, very much in the style of a fluffy teen comedy but an order of magnitude more polished. Available both dubbed and subbed, with no particular Hollywood celebrities doing the English voices.
If Internet sources are to be believed, this is the highest grossing animé film of all time, surpassing the previous record holder (Spirited Away) by $100M—though keep in mind that’s not adjusted for inflation, and in the US it made only $5M to the Studio Ghibli’s film $10M—both too small to crack the box office for the top 5000 Shrek sequels.