[Update: Your Name has surpassed Spirited Away, subsequently becoming Japan's highest-grossing anime film in history]
The anime movie about body-swapping teens #YourName, also known as #KimiNoNaWa. has gripped Japanese theaters these last few weeks, bringing much publicity to its studio, CoMix Wave Films. The #anime film has made history by becoming the first animation not made by Studio Ghibli — famous for Castle in the Sky and other Miyazaki hits — to rake in more than $126 million. However, if you haven't seen Your Name, here are four reasons why you should.
1. More Than Just A Sci-Fi Drama
Your Name is a body-swapping fantasy with two teenagers at its core. The film is based on a Japanese novel of the same name written by #MakotoShinkai.
The film follows Mitsuha, a female high school student living in the countryside and Taki, a male high school student residing in Tokyo. One day, Mitsuha dreams of herself as a young man. Meanwhile in Tokyo, Taki dreams he is a female student attending high school in a rural Japanese town.
While the premise of many drama anime — including Your Name — are about two people fated to meet, Shinkai's film achieves this connection in a peculiar way: by switching bodies in their dreams. Not only does it deliver raw emotions, but also some comedic relief, especially when Mitsuha trying to use gender-appropriate words. Above all, the movie explores several themes such as adulthood and the struggle to affirm one's identity in a confusing world.
2. Beautiful Graphics
While Your Name is fiction, several locations in the movie are modeled after real-life locations, for example, the Suga Shrine located in Tokyo, which was used for the very last scene. As a result, fans are making pilgrimages to these stunning locations, subsequently highlighting the hidden gems around Japan.
3. The New Miyazaki
There are several reasons why some animators might hate the label the “new Miyazaki” or "next Miyazaki," who retired from feature filmmaking in 2013. First of all, it creates an expectation that the film or series will resemble (or much worse — imitate) Hayao Miyazaki's #animation. Second, many of #Miyazaki films have made box office records that few of these so-called successors have reached.
While Your Name may have earned Shinkai the Miyazaki-successor title, he has many other projects under his belt. Although you may not recall Shinkai's name, a lot of anime fans know his work, which include: Voices of a Distant Star, 5 Centimeters Per Second and The Garden of Words, to just to name a few. On top of that, he calls these comparisons an overestimation.
4. Reflects The Sentiments Of Japanese People
A lot of people have not recovered from the deadly 2011 earthquake — the most powerful to hit Japan — which claimed the lives of almost 16,000 people. While the main theme of the film is about body-swapping and the situations that the main characters go through, this is quickly eclipsed by a natural disaster. Makoto Shinkai has used Your Name to reflect the sentiment that many, including himself, shared — that a disaster could strike at any moment.
Funimation will release the film in theaters and on home video.
Anime like Your Name has been as much a part of Hollywood as major blockbusters. Learn more about it's influence in the video below: