In the charming and soulful Japanese anime Your Name, two teenagers who have never met wake up rattled to discover that they have switched bodies in their sleep, or more precisely their dreams. And it's not just their anatomies they've exchanged, or even the identities-in-progress each has managed to cobble together at such a tender age. Mitsuha, a spirited but restless small-town girl of Miyazaki-type vintage, and Taki, a Tokyo high school boy, have also swapped the country for the city, with all the psychic and cultural adjustments that will entail.
Soon it grows clear the two have also switched places in time as well, with potentially drastic consequences for at least one of them. Indeed Mitsuha's village of Itomori may be in terrible danger from the fallout of a beautifully rendered approaching comet. The kicker is that the fallout fell three years ago.
Your Name is a stirring tale of rescue with a boisterous edge of YA mischief. It's also a love story with a swoony romantic affinity for the age-old tussle between chance and fate. The movie -- which is released stateside in both dubbed and subtitled formats (for sheer atmospheric pleasure, the latter is overwhelmingly preferred) -- is not a Studio Ghibli project, but visually it might as well be.
The director of animation, Andou Masashi, is a longtime Ghibli artist who worked on the ravishing Spirited Away, and fans of Hayao Miyazaki will swoon over the small-town landscape with its pastel-washed skies and lakes and tile-roofed houses, its blow-ups of frying eggs and dripping taps. Itomori is the kind of place you wish you'd grown up in -- unless you happen to be sixteen years old, in which case the cityscapes may be more likely to thrill.