YOUR NAME (Kimi no na wa)


In the world of anime, Hayao Miyazaki ("Spirited Away", "Ponyo") is considered the master of all taking the Asian animation form to incredibly high levels with complex characters and great animation. Few have come consistently close; a couple have had a glimpses of genius...but only glimpses.


Forty-three year old writer/director Makoto Shinkai is demonstrating similar talent with compelling storytelling and fabulous animation. His breakthrough film "5 Centimeters Per Second" (Byosoku 5 senchimetoru) that followed a man through several stages in his life. It won a couple of animation awards.


His latest film "Your Name" (Kimi no na wa) was recently nominated for an Annie and one or was nominated for several other global animation awards including the LA Film Critics Best Animation award and Tokyo's Anime Award for best director. It is easily one of the best examples of the genre I have seen.

The story revolves around two teenagers who mysteriously start switching lives periodically for a day or two. Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki) and Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi) don't know each other and live a great distance apart but are suddenly connected when each awakens in the others body.


Naturally, at first this causes some confusion, especially since they are different sexes. One of the more humorous scenes is when Taki is getting to know his female body for the first few times. But they eventually work through the problem and figure out a system to guide each other during their out-of-body days.


Mitsuha helps Taki score with a girl he's had a crush on and Taki helps Mishua cope with her friends. But all of this comes to a screeching halt when a passing comet disrupts everything leaving Taki to try to find out why he lost contact with Mitsuha.


The film delves into mystic legend, science, politics and the always amusing kids-against-adults scenario. The characters are multilayered and very complex, but the story remains easy to follow as you are drawn into the explanations for the switching.


This is not a simple "Speed Racer" type film with a non-sensical, one-dimensional plot. This is a film that could easily have played out as a live action film.


"Your Name" (Kimi no na wa) is a very well told story of discovery and self discovery that just happens to be an anime film. Director Makoto Shinkai strikes gold with a truly entertaining film. (Japanese with English subtitles)   -- GEOFF BURTON