Your Name 君の名は (Kimi no Na wa) 
Based on the novel by the director-screenwriter Makoto Shinkai (The Garden of Words, Children Who Chase Lost Voices) himself, Your Name is about a high school girl and boy, named Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi) and Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki) respectively, who wake up one day realising that their bodies have been swapped and they've never met each other before. Their bodies are not permanently switched, instead it only happens 3-4 times a week on random. They reluctantly try their best to adapt to each other's life following respective rules. After a while, Taki decides look for Mitsuha to meet her for the first time.
The body swap plot has been around since as early as 1940 and there are already so many films and series about it that it could actually be its on genre. But Your Name has more to offer than meets the eye, mixing it up with other fantasy and genre elements, making the film's story quite a unique one. It starts off slightly worrying to me — it has an anime series-like opening with the theme song and it focuses more on the teenage female protagonist's typical whinings about how much she doesn't belong there and wishes to be someone else. At this point, I actually thought this was going to be one of those so-so teen romance comedy dramas.
And then it simply took me by surprise with its impressive twists in the second act. I did not see any of that coming as the film does well in hiding them under the lighthearted, anime-ish tone and funny humour in the first act. Without spoiling it (I hope), the twists remind me of Hong Kong's Turn Left, Turn Right (2003), Korea's Il Mare (2000) and Taiwan's Secret (2007) though Shinkai did not reference any of these titles as inspirations to the story.
The rules of the body-swapping phenomenon are kept vague. Mitsuha and Taki's memories of the swaps are blurred when they're back to their own respective bodies but it is not explained if their friends would forget anything they know about it as well. But as long as the audience doesn't really question why there are such rules, this mystery adds to the already compelling drama.
The final act is packed with emotionally impactful drama and a bit of thrills. And it's engaging because the film excels in its clever storytelling and soulful execution from the very beginning. Not mention the beautifully crafted visuals and fantastic scores. If there's anything I'd like to change, it's probably only the cliched ending. But nonetheless, Your Name certainly has potential to be an international hit if it's adapted into a live action film with at least the same level of heart.
Malaysian censorship: Characters touch themselves more than a couple of times but it's pretty innocent. It isn't as hentai as some might be expecting it to be but I'm not entirely sure if nothing is censored 'cause I don't remember seeing a scene of them struggling in the toilet.
Verdict: A funny and emotionally-engaging body swap animated feature with unexpected twists.
Rating: 4 / 5
Based on: "Your Name" novel by Makoto Shinkai
Country / Language: Japan / Japanese
Genre: Anime, fantasy romance drama
Running Time: 107 minutes
Director-writer: Makoto Shinkai
Cast: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Ryo Narita
Malaysia Release Date: 8 December 2016
Local Distributor: ATriNaga
Production: CoMix Wave Films
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