Makoto Shinkai’s latest film offers audiences a different kind of love story to root for
The mystery film at this year’s Scotland Loves Anime festival did not remain a mystery for long. The festival had the pleasure of showing – for only the second time in Scotland – Your Name, the latest full length animated film by director, animator and rising star of the film industry Makoto Shinkai. Shinaki has been making a splash in the world of film since 1999 when he released his first animation, the five-minute long monochromatic short film She and Her Cat. After winning the Grand Prize at the DoGA CG Animation contest he began to consider his next project. Shortly afterwards he quit his job and began working on his first full length film Voices of a Distant Star.
17 years and five films later we have Your Name. The plot revolves around a girl called Mitsuha who, bored with her life in the countryside, dreams of being reincarnated as a handsome Tokyo boy called Taki Tachibana. He has the life she dreams of, but is equally dissatisfied. One morning they wake up and they have been transported into the other’s body. Over the next few months they change bodies frequently leaving each other updates in their phone diaries of what they have missed. In her entries Mitsuha tells Taki about a comet which will soon pass over her village which becomes a symbol both of the beauty of life and it’s brevity. Finally unable to resist interfering with Taki’s life, Mitsuha sets him up on a date with Ms Okudera. The unsuccessfulness of the date leads Taki to realise he has fallen in love with Mitsuha and he sets off to find her.
Your Name has been met with astronomical success from both the box office and the critics; as of 7 November 2016 it had made an estimated 19.97 billion yen. Part of the reason for its success is the extraordinary tenderness Shinaki creates between his two protagonists. He has previously listed his favourite anime as being Castle In The Sky and the influence of Hayao Miyazaki really comes through in his atmospheric dreamscapes. Startlingly as twilight falls and the two characters see each other for the first time we find ourselves holding our breaths. The vividness and complexity of his characters makes them extremely emotionally engaging. In She and Her Cat Shinaki explored universal themes such as love, loneliness and loyalty; themes which he seems to be carrying on through his entire filmography with Your Name being far from an exception.