While there is certainly a core fanbase for Japanese anime, it is rare to see a film that falls into this category catching the eye of the masses. Such a rare occurrence has occurred with Makoto Shinkai's YOUR NAME, a complex film about a mysterious body swap between two high schoolers.
The story follows Taki Tachibana (Ryûnosuke Kamiki), a city boy in Tokyo, and Mitsuha Miyamazu (Mone Kamishiraishi), a girl living in the countryside. The stark contrast of their lives (not to mention their genders) makes for a compelling opening to a film: both thinking they are dreaming, they live a day in the life of each other without fully comprehending what has happened — and leaving their friends and family under the impression that they have gone crazy, forgetting who they are, where they live, etc. But when the day is done, these high schoolers return to their own bodies. This switch continues to happen intermittently, until the two work out a system, leaving reports for each other on their phones in order to keep track of their lives.
But suddenly, something happens that will change the nature of this bizarre relationship. Comet Tiamat, a comet that appears every thousand years or so, is scheduled to be visible to the naked eye -- a fact which holds much more weight than it appears. Without giving too much away, there is a lot happening in this story that breaks away from your typical body-switching plot-line, and the combination of the gravity of the journey that these two teens take and the deeply ingrained themes of time and spiritual connection makes the film a stark departure from your typical anime.
For those who are not big on anime, the film is still worth a watch, with just a different enough style and feel to the film to attract a wider audience. Though it does have somewhat hokey montage sequences early on in the film, the story, editing, and voice-acting are pretty top-quality. Don't miss this film! YOUR NAME is now playing at Midtown Cinema, starting 4/28.