Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Your Name. Review

The world of anime is a world that I've been meaning to dive into more. Outside a few kids TV shows when I was young and an anime movie here and there, the anime world is one that I really haven't experienced much. I don't know why this is. I have nothing against this genre. In fact, it's quite the opposite. The anime I have seen have easily convinced me that this is a genre of animation done right. I just haven't gotten around to exploring this world too much and I'm excited to explore it more because I've committed myself to doing just that. Which is why when I finally saw "Your Name." hit theaters in my hometown, I put it high on my list of movies that I need to see and review after hearing nothing but high praise about it. Now that I've seen it and given it several days to sink in, I'm happy to declare to you that this is one of the best animated films that's been released in theaters in quite some time. I'm also embarrassed to learn that this is in fact the very first time I have reviewed an anime on this blog. Part of that is because they don't hit theaters in the U.S. that often, as I'll touch on in a bit, and I typically only write reviews for new releases, but still. No excuse. But hey, if I have to start somewhere, "Your Name." is a pretty good place to start.

As far as the plot specifics of this movie and details of why I like the movie so much, that's a bit of a tricky thing. Before I went in, I had a friend who had seen it tell me to go knowing as little as possible, so I followed his advice and went in without even knowing the premise of the movie. I just saw it had phenomenal reviews and was part of a genre that I've been meaning to catch up on, so that was good enough for me to give it a shot. It wasn't until well after seeing the movie that I remembered that I had watched YouTuber Chris Stuckmann's review of it back in December, but I totally forgot everything he said until I re-watched his review afterwards, which I'm grateful for because he says a lot. Probably a bit too much. After approaching this movie in this manner, I would honestly encourage all of you to do so in the same way. The best comparison that I can come up with for this movie is that it feels like a Studio Ghibli film in terms of style and quality. This is not a Studio Ghibli film, but if you like Studio Ghibli or are a fan of anime in general, close this review right now and go see this movie. Don't read or watch anything about it. Just go see it. The film is very mysterious in premise and the less you know about it going in, the better your experience will be.

As this is a movie review, and I need to say SOMETHING about what the premise is, I'm about to reveal what the basic, initial premise of this movie is so I can have something to say and build on for the rest of the review. If what I've already revealed in the last two paragraphs is enough to convince you, then my recommendation is for you to discontinue reading and come back and finish this review after seeing the movie. If you need a little more about what this movie is and why I liked it before you commit yourself to seeing it, then proceed. The movie is centered around two main characters, a boy named Taki and a girl named Mitsuha, voiced by two Japanese actors that me make glad I have a blog and not a YouTube channel because I am horrible with Japanese pronunciation -- Ry√Ľnosuke Kamiki and Mone Kamishiraishi. Anyways, these two characters are teenagers who for some mysterious reason have swapped bodies, having no recollection of who the other one is or what's going on in their life. Thus they have to figure out what the heck is going on and while they are figuring this out, we as an audience are trying to figure it out as well, making this for one incredible journey through the lives of these two characters.

That's about all I'm going to say about the plot of this movie. The rest of this review will focus on my emotions that I was going through while watching, which made for quite the movie-going experience because my emotions were all over the place. This movie is really heavy. It's unpredictable. It had me on the edge of my seat for nearly the entire run time. It had several moments of gut-busting laughter that almost made me miss what was happening next. It nearly made me cry in several moments for several different reasons. There were times where I felt like a teenage girl by having my heart melt at some of the romantic elements. The movie was really intense at times to the point where I was so nervous that I was shaking. This movie literally has almost every positive emotion that you can feel while watching a movie. I even experienced that feeling of dread that sometimes overcomes you when you realize that a movie is about to end, but you've become so emotionally invested in the world and the characters that you don't want it to end. I don't think I've experienced that specific feeling so strongly since my first time seeing "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." I can't remember when an animated movie from any studio sent my on a ride this emotionally drastic.

One thing that I really loved about this movie is that it's an animated movie for adults. There's a lot of stereotypes in Hollywood that I really hate and one of them is that animated movies are for kids. I want there to be more studios and filmmakers out there that are willing to make more animated movies strictly for adults. I don't mean to say I want more sexual content or more language in my animated movies. That's another Hollywood stereotype I hate. PG movies are only for kids, PG-13 movies are for teenagers and R rated movies are for adults. I want that to go away. Not by making R-rated kids movies, but by making PG-rated adults movies. Movies that AREN'T sexually explicit or have tons of language, but that thematically speaking are stories that are geared towards adults that only adults will truly appreciate. Yes, there are a lot of Pixar and Disney movies that adults will appreciate more than kids, such as "Zootopia" and "Inside Out," but even those movies are crafted specifically so that kids will enjoy the heck out of them alongside adults. And that's all fine and dandy, but "Your Name." is a PG-rated animated movie that will most likely put your kids to sleep or cause them to lose interest within a few minutes, but will have you as an adult glued to the screen.

I love that about this movie. In fact, I love that about many of the anime that I have seen. While there are anime movies and TV shows for all different ages, many of the more popular ones, especially the Studio Ghibli films or the other animated films that typically sneak into the best animated feature category at the Oscars, are movies that, despite the PG rating that they often get, are movies for adults. They also are the traditional 2D animation style that all the major Hollywood studios have now completely abandoned ever since Pixar popularized the 3D CGI style of animation in the mid-90's. If you're a traditionalist when it comes to animation and you want more animation for adults, then anime is the genre of animation that you need to check out. Most importantly, these are often high quality movies with real, human emotion, characters you grow to love and stories that are well-thought out and are the main focus of the movie, an idea that sadly doesn't exist quite as much as it should with so many blockbusters these days focused solely on fancy visual effects or cool action sequences as opposed to focusing on good stories and good characters that movies used to be all about. Watching movies like "Your Name." is definitely a breath of fresh air in a day saturated with so many sequels, reboots and remakes.

If you are already a fan of anime, then I'm sure I'm just preaching to the choir and you are thus probably hoping that I can get on with the movie review, but I look at the U.S. box office results for this genre and I'm convinced that there is a good majority of the population that has completely ignored these movies for whatever reason, so I feel this is an important plug to make here. Especially since I haven't done my part well enough. I mean, the highest grossing anime in U.S. box office history not named "Pokemon" or "Yu-Gi-Oh!" is "The Secret World of Arriety" with just $19.2 million. Ouch. That's less money overall in the United States in its entire run than most Pixar movies make in one day. And that's with the highest grossing movie in the genre. Most of these phenomenal movies make less than $10 million here and sometimes less than $1 million here. It's a real travesty. For comparison, "Your Name." has made the U.S. equivalent of $235.3 million in Japan and $328.7 million total internationally. This is a movie that deserves to equal that over here instead of its current total of $3.5 million as of the posting of this review. So if you haven't yet made the commitment to see more anime, join with me right now in making that commitment.

Because, yes, "Your Name." is a fantastic movie that's definitely worth your time. It's one of my favorite overall movies of 2017 so far and it would've been very high on my list of best movies of 2016 had I had the luxury of seeing it last year like some did. I mention that because it premiered last July at the Anime Expo in California and had an Oscar qualifying run at some point before the end of the year, but didn't get an official U.S. theatrical release until earlier this month on April 7. It was also released in Japan as well as several other countries at various points last year. So it's a bit ambiguous as to which year this movie belongs in, but for my personal purposes, I'm going to call it a 2017 movie because that's when it got its U.S. release and that way it will be eligible for my best movies of 2017 list. Being that we're only in April, I make no promises that this will make that list, but being that it's a strong contender at this moment for my favorite movie of 2017, I'd say its chances are pretty good. There's so much more to say about this movie as I could spend a whole review elaborating on the feelings I described in my fourth paragraph, but I'm not going to because I want to savor the experience for you. So I'll just finish this review by awarding "Your Name." a perfect 10/10.

P.S.- I saw the subtitled version of this movie, not the dubbed version. Because when I watch a movie in a foreign language, that's how I prefer to watch so that I can hear the original sound of the foreign person's voice as they talk. I have no problem reading subtitles in a movie in situations like this. I think that's how they should be watched. In case you were curious.

No comments:

Post a Comment