Saturday, April 8, 2017

[Anime] Your Name Review

No introduction, but here's a picture of Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet striking Jupiter in 1994.  It hit with enough energy to leave Earth-sized marks on the outer atmosphere.

Kimi no Na wa (Your Name) - 7/10

The Good:

I went into the movie expecting certain things (romance, beautiful scenery, etc.) but what I did not anticipate was the comedy.  This caught me by surprise as the few Shinkai works I have seen featured little in the way of jokes and relied far more on the heartstrings.  The Freaky Friday routine was surprisingly enjoyable, how it unfolds slowly and with only one half at a time, then moving together.  Even the simpler gags, such as Taki(Mitsuha) fondling "his" breasts, became good running gags.  My personal favorites of this part were the pronoun confusion by Mitsuha(Taki) on the school roof and when Taki(Mitsuha) finally completely freaks the younger sister out in the morning.  Most of my enjoyment of the movie is derived from this first segment.

The more humorous early segments also did an excellent job of laying the groundwork of the latter half of the movie.  The characters were far more endearing for having laughed with/at them.  This is also a seamless way for us to learn more about our two main personalities; what they like doing, what they do with their time, their aspirations, their quirks, etc. all flow naturally from them having to explain to each other what to do and not do while in the other's body.

The preparation also deserves some praise for what it doesn't talk about: namely all the characters that don't matter.  This is probably a case where I'm more used to series than movies, but the movie knew which characters were relevant and important and didn't waste our time with the others.  We see enough of the main duo's families to know their situations, and enough of the associated friends to get a taste of their personalities.  And then nothing more, which is exactly what is needed.

Moving onto the latter half of the movie, what caught me the most was that Mitsuha was dead.  It really did put a hook in me when they discovered the destroyed town, and ultimately reading her name on the registry of victims.  The first part of the movie really did do its job with selling her.  Her "first" death scene was also solid for its unexpectedness.

Finally, it goes without saying nowadays, but Shinkai's films have a top animation budget so they look good.  Although in this case, some of my favorite animation was actually during the flashback Taki has from drinking the saké.  The chalk-stylized touch was enjoyable.  This isn't to disregard some of the grander shots, such as the view Taki has of the village at sunset, but the obvious push for the wow-factor in the scene slightly dulls it for me.

The Bad:

Shinkai loves to insert supernatural elements into his movies, and honestly I think they are usually the worse for it when things turn serious.  What worked as a humorous plot device to get to know our characters now turns into a convenient tearjerker way to have them forget each others names and be forced to find each other.  This type of complaint is the same I have made for series from Shiki to Clannad: I have a hard time getting any emotional traction with excessively artificial situations.  Cases of mutual retrograde amnesia are just not common enough.

My other primary problem with the end was the pacing.  I know that the staggered uncertainty is what people pay for, but for me it just felt dragged out.  From the moment that Taki goes back in time from the shrine, it is clear that the villagers will survive and our couple will get together in the end (if there was any doubt before, I guess).  All that remains is to execute the final arc.  When we snap back to the present the movie delays confirming that the village survived (we know they did), then dilly-dallies around with whether Taki will see Mitsuha in Tokyo (he will), and finally has them miss each other repeatedly until the inevitable conclusion (of course).  Again, I know this is what makes the movie so broadly popular, but for me it's simply cheap.

Ultimately, I still thought it was a solid movie.  I enjoyed the viewing and would recommend other people to go, but I would not consider it a moving masterpiece that it has been built up to be.

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