Release Date(s)2016 (November 7, 2017)
Studio(s)CoMix Wave Films/Toho (FUNimation)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: C+
Can two people be so connected that their bond transcends the normal limits of time and space? And can such obstacles be overcome by the sheer force of will... and love? Those questions are at the heart of writer/director Makoto Shinkai’s wildly romantic anime, Your Name, released in Japan by Toho in 2016 and now available on Blu-ray in the U.S. from FUNimation.
Taki is a teenage boy living in Tokyo. Mitsuha is a girl of the same age living in the tiny Japanese village of Itomori. For reasons unknown, the pair suddenly finds themselves connecting with one another in their dreams and waking to discover that they’ve swapped bodies. For several weeks, they regularly make this swap and live out whole days of each other’s lives, an interaction that changes them both profoundly. But then the phenomenon stops unexpectedly and their memories of each other begin to fade. All Taki and Mitsuha know for certain is that what’s happened to them is important… and that it seems connected to the vision of a dazzling comet in the skies overhead.
Mixing elements of drama, science fiction, and fantasy, Your Name was a tremendous financial and critical success in Japan, where its box office haul is second only to Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, and it’s gone on to become the highest-grossing Japanese film ever worldwide. The film is by turns idealistic, magical, and visually stunning, but it’s no mere tale of adolescent romance. At its most basic, Your Name is about the power of finding hope in the midst of change and tragedy. And in the current Japanese zeitgeist, that change and tragedy takes two obvious forms: The decline of the nation’s traditional rural lifestyle and, of course, the terrible earthquake and tsunami of 2011. This film is, in essence, a shared national dream, the product of a country and its people looking for reasons to believe in the future.
It’s also a dream that dazzles the eye in high-definition. FUNimation’s Blu-ray presents the film in 1080p HD in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Though the film was produced using modern digital tools, it has much of the look and feel of classic hand-drawn animation, resulting in a kind of best-of-both-worlds feel that evokes the recent work of Studio Ghibli. Colors are bold and nuanced, lines are clean and crisp, and the film’s settings and backgrounds have a lovely painterly texture. Subtle atmospheric effects have also been added to create a layer of naturalism – things like rays of sunlight, sparkling water, haze, heat shimmer, dust motes, rain, and snowfall. Visual clarity is excellent, with great stability and no visible artifacts. This is a gorgeous animated image.
The film’s audio is available in both English and Japanese 5.1 Dolby TrueHD lossless mixes, but of course it’s the Japanese audio you should select to experience this film in its fullest expression (with optional English translation subtitles). Either way, the audio presentation is straightforward and engaging, largely front-biased but with great use of the surrounds for music and immersive sound effects. Overall clarity is excellent and the music, which includes both instrumental score and pop songs by the Japanese pop-rock band Radwimps, is well staged in the mix.
Extras on the Blu-ray include an interesting 25-minute interview with the director, a 10-minute series of trailers representing his filmography (Shinkai’s other works include Voices of a Distant Star, 5 Centimeters Per Second, Children Who Chase Lost Voices, and The Garden of Words), a 22-minute Japanese TV special on the film (a bit rapturous but fascinating from a cultural perspective), and a series of trailers for other FUNimation anime releases. You also get a DVD version of the film in the packaging.
The international popularity of Your Name is so great that director JJ Abrams has recently announced his intention to create a live-action adaptation, so this certainly won’t be the last you hear of the film. In the meantime, Shinkai’s animated original is a touching and beautiful tale that’s filled with subtle visual and cultural touches of Japanese life. Simply for its sheer beauty alone, if not for its numerous other charms, Your Name on Blu-ray is well worth your time.
- Bill Hunt