Makoto Shinkai may not yet be a household name here in the western hemisphere, and I am not really the kind of person to buy into the hype of him (or any other director) being “the next Miyazaki”, but it is hard to deny that the release of your name. represents the exact moment where Shinkai's meteoric rise in the anime industry began to burn as bright as fans predicted it would when “Voices of a Distant Star” came out almost 20 years ago. This new SteelBook Blu-ray edition that Funimation is releasing marks the first time I've been able to revisit your name. since I caught a theatrical screening of its English dub in 2017, and the very first time I've been able to watch it in its original Japanese. Back then, I was as swept up as most everyone else had been in the film's sweet and earnest take on body-swapping and romantic comedy shenanigans, and I was positively overwhelmed by the preposterously gorgeous visuals that Shinkai and the crew at CoMix Waves were able to wring out of every single frame of animation. Two years is plenty of time to allow the dust to settle on shiny first impressions, though, and I have been curious to find out how well the movie holds up.
It only took a dozen or so minutes for me to breathe a sigh of relief and confirm that, yes, it's still pretty damned good. The impeccable Blu-ray transfer preserves the film's lush visuals, and the infectious RADWIMPS soundtrack is still a fantastic complement to Mitsuha and Taki's Excellent (and Occasionally Kind Of Bogus) Adventure. your name. isn't without its flaws, but it remains almost supernaturally watchable, a thoroughly entertaining cascade of thrills, laughs, and heart. your name. may not possess the deceptively simple brilliance that has made the best Ghbili works into the classics, but that isn't even really what Shinkai is going for here. The film doesn't make a big secret of its desire to be a romantic blockbuster that is probably more comparable to James Cameron's Titanic than anything Miyazaki or Takahata ever produced. That isn't a bad thing, either; some folks like to hate on Cameron's most populist epics, like Titanic or Avatar, but those stories demonstrate that sometimes a movie's genius doesn't lie in its deep themes or revolutionary techniques, but rather in how much fun and excitement it is able to cram into a single viewing experience.
The key to your name.'s success lies in how it uses its mysterious body-swapping gimmick and the more existential threat that Mitsuha's village faces to dress-up what is honestly a very simple and relatable story: A girl from a small town and a boy from the big city get to literally walk a few miles in each other's shoes, and the bond that develops between Mitsuha and Taki is just as much about their yearning for a different perspective in life as it is about lovey-dovey stuff (though there's plenty of that too). I imagine that this is an angle that resonates even more with your name.'s native crowd, since the inextricable ties between Japan's historic roots and its modern urban lifestyles are even more complicated and visible than what you might find in a country like the United States. Here, the line that divides “country life” and “city life” is much more stark, and while your name. definitely touches on the big cultural differences that divide Mitsuha and Taki's homes, there's a lot of emotional power in how the two worlds bleed together. It's the undercurrent of mysticism at work in the pair's adventures that makes their strange connection that much more powerful, and their inevitable romance that much more resonant.
Truthfully, Shinkai's story stumbles the most when it veers away from the cultural and spiritual exchanges that Taki and Mitsuha share, and instead falls back on more predictable teen romance tropes. If anything, I would have liked it if your name. was able to get more specific and interesting with its exploration of life as romantically frustrated heterosexual teenagers, but Shinkai isn't interested in digging too deep into that territory. Mitsuha's time trying to navigate Taki's love life and whatnot in Tokyo lacks the same spark of personality that we see when Taki learns about Mitsuha's life and friends in Itomori. That Taki's big city life is somewhat boring in comparison to what Mitsuha is up to is partly by design, but it's a shame that such a vibrant and likable heroine gets comparatively less to do than her counterpart. It doesn't help when Shinkai makes his biases towards the male gaze known with how he plays up Taki's reaction to being in Mitsuha's body in a much more overtly sexual way than when the tables are turned, and the running gag that sees Taki feeling up Mitsuha's boobs is nowhere near as charming as the movie seems to think it is.
These are minor criticisms in the grand scheme of things, though, and they don't take away from the powerful core of emotions that make your name. such a pleasure to watch. Having seen it in both its Japanese and English versions, I can also speak to how much of that emotional core is due to the considerable talent present in both casts, not to mention the strength of the script they're working with. When I first watched the dub, I was impressed with the chemistry that Michael Sinterniklass and Stephanie Sheh shared as Taki and Mitsuha, and their work stands right there with what their Japanese counterparts pull off. Ryunosuke Kamiki and Mone Kamishiraishi make for an equally loveable leading duo in their own right, and both the subtitled and dubbed translations display an obvious extra layer of polish from Funimation, which makes your name. one of those wonderful anime that is fantastic no matter which version of it you watch.
There aren't as many bonuses or goodies here as in the fancy Collector's Edition from awhile back, but the SteelBook retains the basic set of behind-the-scenes features as the standard Blu-ray, and you get a new Digital Copy to go along with the nifty packaging. So, if you're one of the five or six anime fans left in the world that hasn't checked out your name. yet, then this is a perfect opportunity to see what everyone's been talking about. It isn't the kind of blockbuster that will change your life, but it's still a great movie, and it deserves its place in the modern anime canon.