By Veronica G
This review contains spoilers.
Imagine forging a connection that transcends the limits of time, life, and death. Add the element of body-swapping, and you’ve got the makings of a compelling story about two people with interwoven destinies. Makoto Shinkai’s Kimi no Na Wa follows Tokyo boy, Taki, and Itomori girl Mitsuha as they wake up one day to find they’ve switched bodies. While the typical humorous aspects of body swapping are touched upon, (I.E. Taki groping his newfound breasts while inhabiting Mitsuha’s body and Mitsuha’s reluctance to use the bathroom while occupying Taki’s body) the two mainly use their time swapping lives to improve the lifestyle of one another and to get to know each other. Mitsuha gets Taki a date and Taki encourages Mitsuha to stand up for herself. The two slowly become aware of their separate circumstances and get more familiar with each other as their swapping continues. They establish rules for swapping to keep one another informed of what happens in their lives and leave records on their smartphones of each day’s happenings.
As the swapping continues, the two grow to feel connected to one another and begin to crave an opportunity to meet. As they start to recognize their feelings for one another, time becomes their primary obstacle. The body swapping suddenly stops when Taki tries to reach Mitsuha directly. Determined to find and meet her, he begins the search for her hometown only to discover that Mitsuha and her hometown were involved in a catastrophic disaster three years earlier. To find her, Taki reverses an accident of fate that had taken Mitsuha’s life and is given one final chance to swap bodies with her so they can prevent her death from happening. As the two fight to deter death, the threat of forgetting one another looms large because they have technically never met. Their struggle to come together and know whom they’ve been connecting to is perfectly illustrated by the burning titular question Kimi no Na Wa? (What’s your name?)
This film beautifully weaves time, circumstance, and destiny into a story about connections. The love story is charming and sincere in its execution and the transcendent connection Mitsuha and Taki form is one of genuine tenderness.
Kimi no Na Wa also has some truly beautiful animation featuring Japan’s gorgeous countryside landscapes and Tokyo’s immense and bustling beauty. And to top off the thrilling story and fantastic animation, Kimi no Na Wa has the most energetic and emotionally evocative musical soundtrack. The entire film moves as one balanced entity and offers a fresh perspective on the familiar trope of switching bodies.