Well, it’s finally here. Makoto Shinkai’s latest hit film that stormed into Japanese theaters and broke Japanese box office records as the highest grossing anime film of all time. At long last it has reached US theaters and, oh boy, it did not disappoint.
Now before getting straight into it, I wanted to take a second to discuss the common question for those who haven’t seen this and plan to. Yes that’s right, the classic “Subbed or dubbed?” fiasco. Let it be known I saw both this weekend in theaters for a proper side-by-side comparison.
For starters, I would like to just say that the next time I watch this film I would prefer to watch again dubbed. Now I know this is all a matter of preference and I’m sure many will disagree. However, I’m not saying the original Japanese dialogue is sub-par, nor am I calling the subtitled experience any less enjoyable than the English voice over. It’s a close call, and seeing both is worth it to decide for yourself which you prefer.
I would recommend the dub mostly to people who don’t usually watch a lot of anime, and obviously also to those who prefer dubs in general. The reason being this movie is something I felt has to be watched and not read. By this I mean there’s so much going on visually from pastel backgrounds to character expressions and the details of everything in the general scenery, that it feels like a waste to spend so much time looking down at text. Look I know there are people out there who probably have seen all of Monogatari and can scan the subs the very frame they hit the screen and basically download the script into their mind as its happening. But that’s just not everyone.
Another reason I would recommend the dub to the more casual and newer fans is because a fair bit of the humor is very Japanese, and if you just aren’t used to that you may not find yourself enjoying the quaint comedic gems this film has to offer. Luckily, the dub does a fantastic job translating this humor into something more relatable to western comedy. There are plenty of scenes that are just funny all around but I feel the dub does a great job in keeping the pace and helping the viewers relate to the story through laughter.
Also most importantly the quality of voice acting, voice directing, and the translation is all spectacular. The cast did a phenomenal job putting this dub together. Even the music sounded great in English.
The sub will benefit people who watch anime much more frequently and have gone out of their way to understand some social elements in modern Japanese culture such as Japanese pronouns and their gender dependency, honorifics in how people address one another, and generalized lifestyles of modern Japanese teenagers in high school dramas.
That being said, I still say it is worth giving both a chance and seeing for yourself which you prefer. Trust me, the movie’s worth watching a few times and you really want the best experience out of it that you can get.
So let’s get onto the film’s review!
<—-Review starts here (Spoilers ahead)
Aesthetically speaking this film is a masterpiece. Shinkai is known for the gorgeous scenery in all of his filmography (Garden of Words, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, etc..) and this time is no different. The Tokyo skylines, the mountainous regions, the shrine, the small town vibes compared to city living visually is absolutely stunning. Lord knows I can not wait for this Bluray. The characters themselves have simple designs yet the minor details about their personalities and the one unique detail about them make them really pop out despite that.
The animation is just as high quality as everything flows so fluidly and natural. Nothing ever feels forced or awkwardly placed. Every scene just feels normal.
The soundtrack of the movie is very fitting with music composed by Yojiro Noda the lead vocalist of Radwimps. Overall the score was soft and relaxing when it should be but also becoming suspenseful and thrilling on the dime. The opening performed by Radwimps, as well as a couple of other songs in the film, suits the film just fine and seeing it again after watching the movie once makes you love it even more.
The dialogue was written and performed immensely well in both English and Japanese as I mentioned. Conversation flow and comedic timing were all very natural.
Now, what really drives this film? Sure all the fundamentals are there but what really brings this home is the story itself, but most importantly, the two high schoolers that it’s about. Our two protagonists, Mitsuha Miyamizu and Taki Tachibana, are high schoolers in unspecified grades living in very different sides of the country. Mitsuha lives in a small the Boonies and Taki lives in the middle of Tokyo. Essentially, multiple random times during their usual week the two will switch bodies and have to figure out how to get by without ruining each other’s lives. They start communicating by writing things down in their smartphones keeping logs of what their days were in each other’s skin. They do a pretty good job at it for the most part and as the film progresses you see that their dynamic differences begin making a positive impact on their lives. Taki stands up for Mitsuha and resolves her school bullying issue, and Mitsuha’s feminine side grabs the attention of the woman Taki likes at his job. Everything seems to be going well.
So this is the part where the rest of this movie changes pace and atmosphere as in the beginning, the perspective focuses mostly on Mitsuha and we get more of her side than Taki’s, but now that all changes as for some reason, they’re no longer switching with each other. For a while, the film focuses entirely on Taki and it’s unclear why the switching stopped, and what happened to Mitsuha.
To be honest I don’t want to go more into the plot even with a spoiler-filled review. I can’t write it as well as the story actually is from here on out.
What this film succeeded in is creating two characters who are both lovable and relatable to almost anyone, it then uses those two characters to tell a story with twists and turns that will make you weep with joy and tear your heart out in melancholy. Whenever the characters are switched into the opposite’s body, there’s no gimmick to show you that it happened. You just know by the outstanding voice actors who adapt their speech habits and dialect accordingly, and the sudden differences in their personalities and body language which accompanied by the clean animation makes for a film that goes above and beyond my expectations as I watched a tale of two strangers changes each other’s lives as well as their own in an outstanding and unique way to express such a simple idea. The movie is perfect. I have no gripes or complaints. I mean that honestly, I find no flaws in this film and I think it has earned its spot as the Number 1 Anime Film of All Time.
Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name) is a 10/10 and has easily won over my heart.
Thank you for your time.