Kimi no Na wa, was the highlight of 2016 for me, it truly was. I remember going to the theatre to watch it, only to be blown away. I also remember re-watching the movie during class on my phone and I joined it even more, the more I re-watched, the more I fell in love with it. I can now say safely that Kimi no Na wa, is my outmost favourite movie.
Today, I bring to you a very long review, because when you see it multiple times you can see more of it’s flaws and more of it’s good. Hopefully this review does it justice.
Story – 8/10
The premise of Taki and Mitsuha alternate days switching bodies is simple enough – that is until Makoto Shinkai throws in time traveling and alternate timelines. While the movie actually maintains a reasonably easy to follow the timeline, however, digging deeper into the nitty-gritty reveals a couple of major plot holes which cannot be ignored while covering the film. The biggest plot hole is that once you consider that both Taki and Mitsuha were keeping diaries for their counterpart, even with suspension of belief, it becomes quite difficult to believe that the pair would not notice dates aligning, especially considering the 3-year gap.
Beyond this major issue in the writing, the film is able to strike a balance between lighthearted and dramatic scenes, maximizing the impact upon the audience. What the movie succeeds incredibly well at is building up tension and engaging the audience. Themes of distance, time, inevitability return from Shinkai’s previous works but are applied in a much more positive light which is a welcome change. On the whole, the plot of Kimi no Na wa is cohesive if a little cliched but represents a more optimistic outlook of the future from director Makoto Shinkai.
Art – 10/10
Makoto Shinkai’s art style has always been unique and in Kimi no Na wa, he has continued to refine and hone his technique from his previous works. The end result is a film that is absolutely incredible from a visual standpoint. Going as far as to say that this film represents the pinnacle of animation would not be too much of an overstatement. It is perhaps as photorealistic as an anime can get; many of the locations in the movie were directly replicated from real life with the utmost attention to detail. A meteorite has never looked so beautiful and deadly at the same time, the sense of the scale of the meteorite’s destruction stands out amongst the peaceful surroundings of the countryside and it is equally as awe-inspiring as it is bone-chilling.
The contrast between the country-side and city as emphasized by the two montages that play during both Yumetourou and Zenzenzense definitely stands out with both sceneries being beautiful in its own way. When talking about Makoto Shinkai’s art, the colour palate employed can never be overlooked. While depicting Tokyo, the skyscrapers of glass and steel are punctuated in-between by more brighter colours, resulting in an electrifying and bustling atmosphere. The lush colours used for the countryside reflects it’s more easy-going nature. During kataware doki, the orange glow unites the main protagonists in a heartwarming fashion before slowly fading to dark – reestablishing a sense of isolation and enforcing the loneliness of separation. All in all, absolutely top-notch animation of the utmost quality.
Music – 10/10
If this site would allow users to rate sections with scores exceeding 10/10, there would be nothing more deserving than the soundtrack Kimi no Na wa. After watching the movie, what remains with the audience above the story and visuals is the audio aspect and only by experiencing the full effect of the music in the cinema does this film justice. A masterpiece of a soundtrack crafted by Radwimps, while many point to Zenzenzense and Sparkle as the standout tracks (of which both of them are deserving of), the hidden gem Yumetourou goes unnoticed. Being the first track of the film, Yumetourou does an exemplary job at establishing the tone for the rest of the film, beginning from its quiet verses sung over the muted strumming of a guitar which builds into a cacophony of sound for the climax is what initially hooks the audience into the film. Futari no Ihen (Unusual Changes of Two) flows almost seamlessly into Zenzenzense, another highlight of the soundtrack with its unrelenting drumbeat coupled with a catchy guitar riff makes the song into a hit.
The climax of the film where Mitsuha runs to inform her father about the impending disaster is set to Sparkle, which opens with a simplistic piano figure sets a quaint backdrop against the looming danger of the meteorite. Progressively, more instruments join in, starting with percussion and eventually a full string section resulting in a piece that is befitting of the climax of such a stunning film. Even more impressively, what stands out from these fantastic tracks is the usage of silence in the film, most notably once Sparkle concludes; right before the meteorite crashes into the town, there is a brief moment of absolute silence, followed by the blast and rumble from the collision, the silence builds tension to a palpable level and is as important as the rest of the soundtrack. The character tracks are very befitting of their namesakes and accurately reflect the personalities and behaviors of the characters they are named after. The overall cohesiveness of the tracks alongside the handful of standout ones are reminiscent of concepts albums which is very fitting considering the soundtrack’s role in the movie.
Character – 7/10
Where the movie perhaps falls a little short, is in its character development. Whether be it due to constraints in time or simply poor writing, there seems to be a distinct lack of any significant character development over the course of the film, that is not to say that development is always necessary. What Kimi no Na wa offers is a bunch of vibrant personalities who remain true to their initial image to the end. Beyond that, however, there seems to be little reason for the audience to empathize with this cast of characters. While Taki serves as an acceptable main protagonist with Mitsuha being his counterpart, the film makes it difficult to truly relate to them and oftentimes, their actions seem to be counterproductive, and it is this friction between the pair that makes it so difficult for the audience to grow attached to them.
At points, it is almost as if Shinkai had shoe-horned in the romance aspect just to appease a certain group of fans as at no point in the movie, did it truly feel that the Taki and Mitsuha were really growing closer as individuals. Of course, Taki’s decision to write “suki da” on Mitsuha’s hand is bemusing and out of place given his actions so far but it is equally if not more frustrating to find out that Mitsuha was going to do a similar thing. Many conflicts in the film could have been resolved easily if the characters were just able to rationally consider their options at any given point. With the suspension of belief, it is possible to imagine that perhaps those around them had forgotten about the events around the time Taki and Mitsuha switched bodies, but it goes beyond suspension of belief to imagine that all traces and impacts of the body switch have disappeared. The lack of character progression and slightly questionable decision making on behalf of the main cast results in an average score for this section.