Welcome back to Sound Off!, a semi-regular column where members of Speculative Chic gather together to chat about the latest BIG THING in entertainment. This time, wake from a dream and discuss Your Name., which premiered in the United States on Friday, April 7, 2017. This anime, Kimi no Na wa, originally debuted in Japan on August 26, 2016.
NOTE: Both the sub-titled and dubbed versions of this film are here for a short time only. Check your local theaters and art-house theaters for times and availability.
Sound Off! is meant to be a reaction, but not necessarily a review. After all, while we are all individuals, even mutual love of something (or hate) can come from different places: you may find everything from critique to fangirling to maybe even hate-watching.
Now, join J.L. Gribble as she talks about Your Name.! [Note: Minor spoilers that are revealed in the trailer.]
J.L.: I don’t often rely on public radio for my media recommendations due to their usual hate for anything genre, but when my husband and I both heard reviews for Your Name. on NRP, we were both intrigued enough to check out the trailer. Then find a theater playing it and buy tickets. And then my husband actually stopped playing Mass Effect: Andromeda long enough for us to enjoy a date night with a truly stunning film, regardless of genre.
While looking for the original Japanese release date to prepare this post, I learned that Your Name. is the highest-grossing anime film worldwide. I am absolutely not shocked by this. The movie took anime tropes, such as body-swap hijinx and gut-punch tragedy, and created a film that left me awe-struck (and tear-stricken) in the theater, and my husband repeating “That was amazing” at least half a dozen times on the drive home.
Yes, there are body-swap hijinx in this movie. It follows the story of two very different people who trade lives in their dreams. The vaguely nonlinear storytelling was confusing at times, but the writing did a beautiful job of conveying the characters’ confusion about the situation. I appreciated that some of the gender issues that result from two characters of the opposite sex switching places were explored, and also that these situations were not hypersexualized unnecessarily.
I highly recommend the sub-titled version of this film, and not just because I’m a snob about English-language dubs. Some of the body-swap issues involve characters using the wrong gendered forms of the Japanese language, and a very large plot element was based on a specific Japanese phrase having two different interpretations. I’m curious how a dubbed version of this film would convey this double-meaning, and I’m hoping someone who has seen it can add their impressions in the comments.
I’m not going to lie — the dark point of this movie was DARK (see note above about tears in the theater). And because this was anime, I fully expected that to be the end. And honestly, that could have been an ending that I was completely satisfied with, despite the element of tragedy. But since I know some people don’t enjoy getting punched in the stomach in the name of entertainment, I will assure you that the actual ending blew me away, and included a lot more hope.
But one of the best things about the actual ending was that it left things so open to interpretation. I became really invested in these characters over the course of the movie, and while sometimes it’s nice to have everything neatly tied up for you, at other times it’s more satisfying to let the characters take on a life of their own.