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Your Name – A MediaConnex Film Review

Empowerment through a name.

Your Name (Kimi No Nawa) is a Japanese animation film written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, based on his novel of the same name. We follow the lives of two Japanese teens, who switch consciousness between each other during their sleep, and during their investigations into the phenomenon, find out something extraordinary.

Your Name is a clever blend of science fiction, magical realism, and mystery thriller, all standing on the foundation of a basic romance. But it comes with anime’s peculiar nature, where characters speak out loud when alone for the audience to understand what they are feeling or thinking.

This film starts out straight in the action, where the two main characters, Taki and Mitsuha, deal with uncontrolled body switching during their sleep. Taki, the guy, is a fiery city slicker while Mitsuha is the small-town girl next door dreaming of the big city. Their differing personalities bring complications as their antics become a consequence the original owner of the body has to deal with the next day. In order to communicate, Taki and Mitsuha text each other serious and oftentimes humorous instructions, warnings, and protests.

On a personal gripe, the show also comes with erotic fetish, or fan service as some may call it, with such moments as the boy feeling up the busty chest of the girl whenever he takes over her body, or the quick flash of lady underpants.

Because this is a romance film, the two leads eventually grow close, and attempt to link up beyond the phone texting they started with. And this is where it gets more interesting.

The more they dig into the mystery, the gravity of their findings leads them to concoct a grand plan, not to meet each other, but to save her entire town from a calamity. The skill of Makoto Shinkai is to eventually embed a teen romance into a larger picture, where their actions, failures, and intents take on a meaningful impact beyond the sweet nothings.

The title, as well as Shinkai’s approach, is a clever and mature take on the core element of romance. He puts forward the idea that if we only know the name and lives of another person, that is all it takes to form a true connection beyond barriers. It is a great service to the genre when Shinkai uses empathy, not infatuation, as the source of attraction, where understanding the individual is key to love rather than asserting one’s emotions into the other’s life.

 

Why you would want to watch it:

Your Name is a refined piece of work by the indie anime creator Makoto Shinkai, after years of practice that culminates into a successful commercial film without losing its spirit. As a modern treatment of the coming-of-age genre, it is worth a watch for anime enthusiasts and young couples. The expositions might get in the way of the world feeling real, and if the filmmakers could have done without the fan service, it would have been great for young families, too.

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Shern Chong served for 5 years in the Malaysian games industry as a writer and designer, and is now a videogame design lecturer for KDU university. He currently juggles guiding his students to become the next gen developers, hunting for screenwriting gigs, and prepping his fantasy novel TETRAGRAM SECRETS for publishing in 2018. His pursuits include training under the Yip Kin Wing Chun martial arts house, Pen & Paper RPGs, aquascaping and urban farming. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn and roving around the KDU Glenmarie Games campus. Chat him up and ask him about his novel.

shern@mediaconnex.asia

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