Your Name (Kimi no Na wa) has the charm and artistry of Studio Ghibli, but its crippled by poorly defined characters, underdeveloped narrative and misguided plot.

The day the stars fell, two lives changed forever. High schoolers Mitsuha and Taki are complete strangers living separate lives. But one night, they suddenly switch places. Mitsuha wakes up in Taki’s body, and he in hers. This bizarre occurrence continues to happen randomly, and the two must adjust their lives around each other. Yet, somehow, it works. They build a connection and communicate by leaving notes, messages, and more importantly, an imprint. When a dazzling comet lights up the night’s sky, it dawns on them. They want something more from this connection—a chance to meet, an opportunity to truly know each other. Tugging at the string of fate, they try to find a way to each other. But distance isn’t the only thing keeping them apart. Is their bond strong enough to face the cruel irony of time? Or is their meeting nothing more than a wish upon the stars? [FUNimation]

Makato Shinkai has been named as the predecessor to the semi-retired Hayao Miyazaki, who has yet to be surpassed in terms of storytelling and artistry.

True enough, Shinkai treats surroundings with as much detail as Studio Ghibli does with foliage. Continuing his work from the The Garden of Words, photorealistic animation and lighting are deftly captured in well composed visuals. Here, a quaint town by the countryside can be as stunning as a bustling city; a character looking at a comet in the sky is captivating yet portentous, and raindrops on a pavement is melancholic.

While there are plenty of visuals for you to immerse in, the plot of this body swapping story is executed like a TV anime, resulting into a crowd pleasing but underdeveloped narrative.

For some reason, the plot is injected with music montages. Instead of getting to know more about Taki and Mitsuha as they discover, understand and make an impact on each other’s lives, we get clips similar to the opening credits of anime cartoons. They become repetitive at times because they focus on their day to day routine, which gives us little about the characters.

The logic behind their switch is vague and as the movie progresses, becomes more of an excuse to connect two disparate souls together. There’s also a lot of plot strands that its trying to play with – a body switch, a gender swap romance, and fate. In the end, it settles for a rushed love story.

Your Name at least, finishes with an emotionally satisfying ending to a good start, even though the  storytelling in between is lacking.

The movie is still enjoyable albeit superficial. I personally agree with Shinkai when he said that being branded as The New Miyazaki is an overestimation. In fairness, filmmaking is a craft that can get better over time, so maybe this assumption is just premature.

At best, Your Name still manages to deliver the inspiring message that Studio Ghibli has exceptionally told under Miyazaki – your ordinary mundane life can be magical if you open yourself up to new experiences.

My Rating: 7/10

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