Kimi no Na wa (meaning: Your Name) seems to have come out of nowhere. While a bunch of us have been preoccupied with Koe no Katachi (A Silent Voice), another bunch have been waiting with anticipation for Kimi no Na wa. Is there a trend for releasing movies that tug at the heart strings? If there wasn’t before, someone is definitely trying to start one. Now in the latest string of awesome anime films, we have a tale of body-swapping, magical fun, but also a tale of two teenagers who just want a different life.
The film, said to be a story of miracles, is about the lives of two very different teenagers. Mitsuha is a high schooler who lives in an isolated villages deep within the mountains. As well as living here, she also has to deal with her father’s constant occupation with his duties as the town mayor, forgetting that he also has a daughter. She lives with her younger sister and grandmother. Dealing with her father’s election campaign and the customs of her family’s Shinto shrine takes its toll on her. She wishes for a fun and exciting life in the city of Tokyo – this is exactly what Taki has… He’s a male high school student who has a laugh with his friends, works part time in a restaurant and has a passion for the arts. One day, Mistuha has a dream where she is a young man living in Tokyo. At the same time, Taki dreams that he is a girl living in a mountain village he has never seen. These dreams connect the two teenagers in ways they never thought possible.
This yearning to be somewhere or someone else is what we all tend to want as adolescents. The sense of nostalgia and magical realism has become something of a trademark for animated films in Japan. Think of all the Ghibli films, even newer ones like When Marnie Was There or older ones like The Cat Returns. These are all about kids who stumble across new and amazing worlds that are so closely connected to their own world.
Kimi no Na wa has played to the major selling points of anime: nostalgia, beauty, magical realism, and a sense that the film will make us bawl our eyes out. Here in the west all we’ve seen is a trailer, but already it seems like a tear-jerker. At the very least it’s an interesting concept.
Japan has already given the film its firm mark of approval. It was 2016’s highest grossing film in Japan, beating out all other opponents and having made 10 billion yen within 28 days, faster than hits like Disney’s Frozen. It also has new status among other lauded films like Spirited Away and Titanic. The only anime films to have ever earned more money so far are Ghibli classics Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke and Ponyo. The latest TV commercial for the film now highlights these achievements. Japan is planning on releasing several new visuals for Kimi no Na wa in the coming weeks. The lead actress has even featured on YouTube singing the film’s theme song. They’re definitely milking the film’s success, and who can blame them?
The visuals we’ve seen so far indicate at least a movie with stunning animation. With the people working on it, we’re hoping that we in the west can appreciate it on the same level. The animation director (Masayoshi Tanaka) worked on great ‘feelsy’ anime like AnoHana, and that alone could convince a few people that it will be directed sensitively (in other words, brutally and in a way to make a film about angsty teenagers moving).
All these stats have built up Kimi no Na wa in our heads. We’re just hoping we get to see it here in the west (or at least have access to a subbed version online). We need some more great popularised anime movies that aren’t made by Studio Ghibli- not that they’re not amazing, of course.