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Categories: Movie Reviews

Has Your Name earned Makoto Shinkai the title of the ‘new Miyazaki’? Francesca Amoroso investigates.

The first anime to dominate the Japanese market post-Studio Gibhli, overtaking Princess Mononoke to become the third top grossing film in Japanese history, Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name (Kimi no Na wa) has earned the director the speculative title of the ‘new Hayao Miyazaki.’

The body-swap drama follows two high school students, Mitsuha and Taki, who after a bizarre celestial occurrence begin switching lives in their dreams. The film is a beautifully captured expression of youthful romance, delving into the stark disparities between tradition and modernity through Taki’s life in Tokyo and Mitsuha’s in rural Japan. Resonating with painful anxiety over the 2011 earthquake, Your Name attempts to enrich the hackneyed boy-meets girl narrative with these contextual concerns.

Shinkai has certainly showcased his talent for in the medium, creating a rich, multi-faceted animation that not only engages visually, but is also illustrative of everyday experience. Whether that’s in the stunning otherworldly cinematography that wistfully romanticises the landscapes of Japan yet still feels ripe with honest representation, or simply in the many details of modernity that seamlessly play throughout; the film feels textured, layered and real.

Skilfully included are cultural signifiers of the Technological Age, such as ‘Instagramming’ food, relying on Google maps and scrolling the blue light in bed. These additions become more than simple references to modern living but engage the audience in a level of self-representation and solidify the impulse towards the destined interconnectivity between the two protagonists.

It hints at the wider picture, using everyday complexities to enhance the richness to the pair’s personalities and adding depth to their lives and experiences, however, these flourishes end up becoming unanswered questions and insubstantial inclusions that are never fully formed but instead highlighted then abandoned in favour of a simple and placid tale of teenage romance. While the film’s focus on the fragility of time, chance, and memory make for an engaging, addition to the romance genre, Mitsuha and Taki’s romance continually sidesteps interesting narrative possibilities in favour of a lighter overall tone.

Nevertheless, this flaw does nothing to diminish the aesthetic beauty of the film. Exceptionally animated and composed with delicate yet bold visuals, Your Name’s richly detailed mise en scene captures both the vibrancy and pastoral beauty of the city and the countryside.

Despite the film’s undoubted popularity and worldwide recognition, Your Name feels too slight to truly earn the director the title of the ‘New Miyazaki’. Its ultimate lack of deeper meaning categorises the film simply as an enjoyable and saccharine watch of the tragedies in teenage love.

Your Name is out now in select cinemas.

Francesca Amoroso

Francesca is currently a Camera Assistant, working and living in London. She is an MA Film Studies graduate from UCL and writes about film in her spare time.

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Posted on Dec 21, 2016

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