Your Name cut my heart open and left me vulnerable, but I couldn’t help but be bothered by its use of story, characters, and music for the singular purpose of ripping at the heartstrings and while glossing over the quality of these elements.
Mitsuha and Taki drive the plot forward by leaving notes from each other as they switch between bodies. I could not help but notice how strange their reactions are as they come to quickly accept the their situation yet hardly muse on its nature. They at first consider it to be a dream, which is understandable, but we don’t see them question this assumption as they begin to live out entire days of each other’s lives. We can assume this is implied, as the movie would rather explore the funny aspects of the situation–such as how a girl in a boy’s body will take pictures of his food and post them on social media, or how a boy in a girl’s just won’t stop touching her boobs, but there’s so much that could be explored here it seems like a shame. Not to mention there is nothing particularly interesting about the characters besides that they live in different places.
The story is not much different, as much of the time travel is glossed over. There is not really an explanation as to why their switch is happening besides vaguely explained spiritual musings on the part of Mitsuha’s grandmother, and the hardly touched on explanation by Mitsuha that this has been happening for generations in preparation for the avoidance of a natural disaster. Even when you consider the mystical nature of this, it hardly makes sense that there wasn’t some easier manifestation of this problem than body-switching recurring for several generations before it ever had a purpose. The anime also quickly glosses over considerations of the characters’ texting each other by Taki offhandedly mentioning that the calls and texts aren’t going through. And somehow neither character realizes that they are three years off their normal time despite spending many days living out each other’s life. Overall, none of these quirks really hurt the emotional impact of the story, but they seemed glossed over in a way that’s so intentional that it cheapens the experience. Again, the goal of the anime is clear; pull at the heartstrings. Not much else is really given weight.
Music is leaned on so heavily that it’s almost comical, but it’s never ineffective despite this. There is a thread of melancholy intimacy running through the whole film, which I mention here because it’s carried expertly by the music. The soundtrack never lets up as if it’s afraid that if the audience where to forget how sweet it is that these two people, who know each other more intimately than is even possibly for most, can’t ever meet each other they would get bored (which is probably true). There are several montages throughout the film that work well as music videos on their own and perfectly capture the essence of the emotions being presented. Later in the film, the drama is maintained by the fact that the two can’t seem remember each other’s name, which never came up previously and seems like a rather contrived idea that’s used to strengthen the grip on the heart.
Your Name is a popcorn movie that’s not meant to make you think but feel. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with this because not every film has to have some intellectual core, but where its weakness lies in that it glosses over story and character and leans heavily on music to deliver its punch to the heart. While its overall purpose was realized and very effective, I couldn’t help but be annoyed by its disregard for the cohesiveness of its elements in favor of the grand vision.