君の名は。(Kimi no Na Wa/Your Name)

I’ve been dying to watch this film and fortunately it was released in some of our local theaters, albeit for a limited time. Beautifuuuul. Kimi no Na wa (Your Name) is definitely meant to be seen on the big screen.

The plot revolves around two high school students. Taki Tachibana is a boy from Tokyo. He is an aspiring landscape architect who works part-time at an Italian restaurant. While Mitsuha Miyamizu is a girl from the fictional town of Itomori. She’s growing tired of her cooped up life as both the mayor’s daughter and a shrine priestess that it made her wish to be reborn as a city boy.

Careful what you wish for.

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Kimi no Na wa is inspired by several famous works including Shuzo Oshimi’s body swap manga Inside Mari; the martial arts romcom manga Ranma 1/2;  a Japanese tale from the late Heian period called Torikaebaya Monogatari; and a collection of science fiction stories in Axiomatic.

Whenever I tell my Korean students about this movie, I simply say it is similar to Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won’s Secret Garden and they immediately understand what it’s about. But of course, this is so much more than just a gender-bender fantasy cliché. Kimi no Na Wa has successfully put together all the elements that make it appealing for viewers the world over.

Art Style

Japanese artist and auteur, Makoto Shinkai, has a short list of films but his works are well-known for their great attention to detail and realism. From the vast landscapes to the sky-slicing comet, from the sliding doors to the weaving of threads- everything looks like lyric poems in anime form.

Anyone who is into anime has definitely heard of his name since he has been hailed by many critics as “The New Miyazaki”. The comparison is indeed an overestimation but the success of Kimi no Na wa proves that he is worthy of the nickname for honing his skills to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Studio Ghibli founder. Kimi no Na wa continues to break box-office records and lands comfortably at the second spot on the list of the highest-grossing anime films of all-time right under Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.

Seiyuu

Kamiki Ryunosuke is one of my favorite actors and needlessly to say, I’ve been anticipating the release of Kimi no Na wa even more after I heard that he will be voicing the lead character.

He is an accomplished seiyuu who is included in the cast of all top 3 highest-grossing anime films of all time. Aside from playing Taki in Kimi no Na Wa, he is also the giant baby Boh in Spirited Away, and Howl’s apprentice in Howl’s Moving Castle. On screen, Kamiki is known for starring in the critically acclaimed movie, The Kirishima Thing. He is also famous for his memorable roles in Rurouni Kenshin, Bakuman, and As the Gods Will. In 2017, he will play the lead in the two-part live-action adaptation of Sangatsu no Lion.

Music

Music plays a big part in the process of eliciting the right “feels”. The use of Japanese rock band Radwimps’ songs on top of the gorgeous visuals is just the way to do it. Shinkai sticks with the usual longing as central theme for his films but this time, the soundtrack gives Kimi no Na wa the same emotional impact but less melancholic vibes compared to his previous works.

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The audience in the theater that day cheered altogether as the movie played its ending theme. I haven’t heard that kind of applause for a Japanese film since the 2012 live-action adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin.

Despite the overused body swapping plot mixed with time-space intricacies and elements of mass destruction, Kimi no Na wa is a stupendous movie as a whole. It’s a mesmerizing work of art with endearing characters, heartwarming relationships, and a peek at Japan’s cultural and religious values.

Makoto Shinkai still has a long way to go to be the successor of someone as great as Hayao Miyazaki; but what he has is the ability to stir the audience’s emotions and that’s a certainly a good place to start.

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