(First impressions) your name. [Kimi no Na wa.]
October 23, 2016 3 Comments
Unlike Kizumonogatari, Shinkai Makoto’s your name. was one of the two films I’d planned to see on my trip late last month. Seeing the trailer all three times I’d been to the cinema in July was one significant factor…but I was also a bit ambivalent about the idea, for Shinkai has been a bit of a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed thinking about his favourite themes regarding human connection in his earlier works—Voices of a Different Star and The Placed Promised in Our Early Days. However, whilst everyone else seems to rave about it, 5 Centimetres Per Second left me a bit cold. Because of that, I’ve yet to see Children Who Chase Lost Voices or The Garden of Words, even now.
In the end however, I gave in to the hype and went off to the theatre. It was still packed even though the film had been doing the rounds for three weeks by then…and I have to admit that I found myself a little bemused seeing a few moist eyes as everyone walked out two hours later. However, whilst my underlying ambivalence about the director has kept me from raving about the film—unlike everyone else who’s seen it, so it appears—with your name., Shinkai has achieved something that none of his other films did: characters that I would actually like to meet again.
|The background art is always incredibly polished, but that can come across as being…
NB: someone please remind me next time to get two copies of pamphlets with that kind of spine…
If you asked me why I don’t rave over Shinkai like so many other anime fans do, I’m not sure I’d be able to provide a satisfactory answer. I think my main issue is that I’m not always a fan of the themes and conceits that he likes using, though it seems they are quite popular in Japan. For example, I think that the notion of ‘being destined for each other’ is quite overrated—I like to see characters actually in relationships, complete with the ups and downs entailed. I’m also quite over the idea of “two characters ‘always missing each other’,” which I suspect is the reason I did not really care for 5 Centimetres Per Second. Admittedly, I saw that film many years ago, and I’m not sure how I’d feel about it now. Back to your name., however, given the premise of two people whose strange body swapping experience prompts them to seek each other out, I was a little worried. Add to that just how strange and contrived the body swapping phenomenon is (and how it was instrumental in resolving the major external challenge these two teenagers faced in the course of the story), and you’ve got a tale that I was almost unable to suspend my disbelief for.
However, unlike all of Shinkai’s other characters until now, Taki and Mitsuha are characters that I actually like. It’s not just that I’ve remembered their names from one viewing over three weeks ago—being fluent at Japanese has to play a part in that—I really enjoyed the way they were characterised. Both were responsible in their own ways, but at the same time, cute and funny. I also felt that their concerns and journeys were quite fitting for teenagers. About wanting to be in the big city, about realising feelings for someone else and not quite knowing what to do about it…deciding to meet each other no matter what. In some ways, Taki and Mitsuha’s experiences had in them something akin to how we might interact with people we’ve met online, which may have helped me understand where they were coming from.
|I really did like these two…|
As for the rest of the film, there’s little that I want to say without seeing it again. One viewing wasn’t really enough for me to notice the Tokyo cityscapes—most of which I didn’t recognise—though I did like the backgrounds depicting and surrounding Mitsuha’s town of Itomori. And I’m not yet able to consciously notice framing techniques—camera angles, sounds, contrast etc—on a first viewing. I’ll also admit that this wasn’t the film that I desperately wanted to see again within a day—that’s the film I’ll be writing about next. But my fondness for Taki and Mitsuha will ensure that I watch your name. again, hopefully when it hits Australia’s shores sometime over the next few months. Thanks to them, Shinkai Makoto is officially back on my anime radar.