I have heard so many good things about this film which made the wait unbearable but it’s finally here for me to watch.
Synopsis: On the night of a beautiful meteor shower, two strangers — a male high-school student in Tokyo, and a bored teenage girl living in rural Japan — discover that they can switch bodies in their sleep when they share the same dream. Now, they must find each other before time runs out, all while learning lessons about what it’s like to live as another person. (Rovi)
Starring: Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Ryô Narita
Writer: Makoto Shinkai
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Running Time: 106mins
Animated film or not, stories like this don’t come along often which was probably why this film was a hit when it was originally released. There have been many body-switching films but they’ve always felt a little too gimmicky but that wasn’t the case here. A pair of high school students named Taki (Kamiki) and Mitsuha (Kamishiraishi) who somehow discover that they can switch bodies in their sleep when they share the same dream.
They obviously didn’t know at first what was going on as they sporadically kept waking up as each other. Their memories as the other faded quickly as their experiences felt like dreams to them. The longer they went, the more they realised that these were not dreams and that this was very real. They were confused but the people in each of their lives were just as confused as they were. To survive, they had to learn about each other’s lives but they were two different people so they lived each other’s lives differently.
Coming to terms with what was happening to them, they started to leave messages to one another. They also decided to help each other in their lives where Mitsuha would help Taki build a relationship with his co-worker Miki (Masami Nagasawa) and Taki would help Mitsuha be popular at school. We also learn that a comet is oncoming and would pass by Earth on the day of her town’s festival.
Instead of letting it linger, we learn the film’s big twist pretty early on but the hints were there. After a failed date, he tries to seek out Mitsuha but can’t seem to remember the name of her town and his memories of it were fading. Taki eventually learned that Mitsuha had died three years earlier after a piece of that very comet destroyed her town. He then seeked out Mitsuha’s family shrine, drinking some kuchikamizake to take control of her body one last time in the hopes of saving her town from the comet.
They finally meet but their attempts to try and remember each other failed. The comet still destroyed Mitsuha’s town but she managed to save everyone, including herself, this time. When the film caught up with them five years later, their memories of each other faded until they managed to run into each other. They each recognized each other, thinking that they’ve seen the other before . They each ask for each other’s names (hence the title).
Stories like this don’t come around very often and that was the best part of this film. It may appear complicated at first but it gets better once more is revealed. Thanks to its many twists and turns, it was hard to tell where it was going and that was a good thing. It was a story of self-discovery involving two people who spent a lot of time together without knowing one another. The story touched many genres and themes, seamlessly weaving between each of them but not forgetting the main point which was the relationship between the two main characters.
Instead of being the told a story, the film made you feel like you were part of one thanks to its excellent animation (almost Studio Ghibli like). It featured a bright, colorful, detailed characters within a living and breathing world. Breathtaking cinematography created the illusion of 3D without really being in 3D. The voice acting was great as well, giving more than enough emotion to the characters during the proceedings.
Overall, this was an amazing animated film with an original, engaging story with excellent animation and voice acting. Because of the story, it’s a film to watch multiple times just to pick up all of its intricacies.
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