Now hailed as the biggest anime box office hit, surpassing the classic Spirited Away, there are probably only a few portion of the people on cyberspace who haven’t heard or even read news or headlines about Shinkai Makoto’s hit film last year, Kimi no Na wa.. It was shown even in some theatres worldwide. (We had it in our country last December.) Now, I just want to say my thoughts about it here.
Mitsuha Miyamizu, a high school girl, yearns to live the life of a boy in the bustling city of Tokyo—a dream that stands in stark contrast to her present life in the countryside. Meanwhile in the city, Taki Tachibana lives a busy life as a high school student while juggling his part-time job and hopes for a future in architecture.
One day, Mitsuha awakens in a room that is not her own and suddenly finds herself living the dream life in Tokyo—but in Taki’s body! Elsewhere, Taki finds himself living Mitsuha’s life in the humble countryside. In pursuit of an answer to this strange phenomenon, they begin to search for one another.
Kimi no Na wa. revolves around Mitsuha and Taki’s actions, which begin to have a dramatic impact on each other’s lives, weaving them into a fabric held together by fate and circumstance. (source: MAL)
Reading that synopsis (as well as the others around), you’d think that this is just another body-swapping story — I initially thought it was — but it isn’t. There’s a surprise twist in the story that makes the viewing even more enjoyable to re-watch though the following events could still be predictable to some. The plot is quite simple, but the way the connection between the two main characters are established is interesting, especially because it is also what holds that surprising twist on the story. The importance of memories and traditions is heavily emphasized through the messages expressed visually and verbally. These actually makes good discussions for the movie.
Now, we have these two main characters — Mitsuha and Taki, both 17 years old. Mitsuha is a member of the family responsible for preserving an old religious tradition in their little town of Itomori. Meanwhile, Taki is a handsome Tokyo guy who has great artistic skills and works in an Italian restaurant which bears a name that translates to “Garden of Words“, same as the title of Shinkai’s other work.
They are quite typical characters. Both hang out with two friends. In class, they’re neither the bully nor the bullied, nor the popular or unpopular. Their personalities make it enjoyable to watch them, especially when they have their bodies swapped.
However, yes, we’ll get that Taki can be short-tempered while Mitsuha is an obedient girl who’s good with needles and some other facts about them, but somehow, I feel that I didn’t get to know them well. While we see a lot of Mitsuha’s family background (which is significant in the story), we barely know of Taki’s, though we do see his lifestyle and significant relationships. Yes, we could take from the littlest actions or reactions they have, but it still feels lacking and rushed.
We are able to see a beautiful and fun montage of some scenes that happened when they were in the other’s body as well as their reactions and brief exchanges through the notes they leave for each other. With those, we know that they somehow fell for each other along the way while getting to know the other through their respective lives. Nevertheless, I found those too short that when the time it was shown they finally have feelings for each other came, it still seemed abrupt to me. Good thing that after that is where things get more interesting, so it more than made up for that for me.
Aside from them, I think the other remarkable characters are Yotsuha, Mitsuha’s adorable younger sister, and Hitoha, their grandmother. Taki’s friends are fun to watch, too, but they don’t have much screen time. At least not as much compared to Mitsuha’s friends, though it’s fine because Teshi and Sayaka play more significant roles to the story.
When one says the name Shinkai Makoto, the first thing that comes up to my mind is beautiful visuals. I have only watched two other works of his before this — Garden of Words and 5 Centimeters per Second — but those are enough to raise my expectations when it comes to this element. This movie didn’t disappoint with that. CoMix Wave Films did a great job with the details of the actions, such as in those scenes where they’re making braided cords. There’s also a sequence where there’s a dance and the actions are well-animated that it’s enthralling. The same with the scenes on a specific location where time is shown passing by. Moreover, they did a good job animating the two in a way that it’s distinguishable that they’re not on their own bodies.
The soundtrack is definitely a significant part of the movie as it helps enhance the emotions evoked on the scenes. RADWIMPS’ songs are definitely memorable! I already loved 前前前世 (Zen Zen Zense | Past-Past-Past Life) even before watching the movie, but I love it more now. Sparkle and なんでもないや (Nandemonaiya | It’s Nothing) are two other faves of mine. Kamishiraishi Mone, Mitsuha’s seiyuu, sang Nandemonaiya beautifully, too! Watch and listen to her here.
And, by the way, I’m going to admit here that the primary reason why I looked forward to this movie is because of Kamiki Ryunosuke, Taki’s seiyuu. When I first watched the trailer, even without the subs, I instantly recognized his voice which is confirmed to be his when the credits were shown. I’m a big fan of him as an actor but I also loved his voice acting roles (I love voices like his!). His performance here as Taki is commendable. I loved listening to him speaking as Taki, but I also enjoyed his performance as Mitsuha in Taki’s body. He was able to make it sound feminine but not in a way that makes it seems like Taki’s trying to be gay or something.
This goes the same for Kamishiraishi Mone, too! (I’m a fan of her acting, too, by the way.) Compared to Kamiki, she doesn’t have much experience in voice acting as this is only her second role. Her first time is on Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki (ahh, lovely film!) for a supporting role. Nonetheless, she performed well as Mitsuha, having that tough voice whenever it was Taki in her and sweet yet strong as herself. I loved the scenes where they had exchanges of lines followed by a simultaneous one as in here (that’s a small clip of Kamiki and Kamishiraishi dubbing one of the memorable scenes).
The other voice actors did well, too! Shimazaki Nobunaga, Ishikawa Kaito, and Hanazawa Kana are here! I was surprised to see Nagasawa Masami and Narita Ryo on the list of CVs. Anyhow, I’ve been seeing lots of on-screen actors doing voice acting jobs so I guess instances like this shouldn’t surprise me anymore in the future.
Overall, Kimi no Na wa is the type of movie that warrants a second (and third and fourth?) watch, if only to pay more attention to details or enjoy the visuals more. Not to say that it doesn’t have flaws. Honestly, in my opinion, it’s a bit overrated. But I also think it has something to offer to every viewer, may that be a discussion about the themes, The plot the characters, the visuals, and/or the soundtrack, and that adds to the enjoyment of watching the show.
I’m excited to see which movie will surpass the record Kimi no Na wa gained. For now, I guess I’m going to enjoy going back to this once in a while to look at the stunning visuals and to listen to the songs as well as Kamiki‘s voice yelling “名前は？”