A twisted teen flick: Your Name is original and refreshing. It takes a film genre (the coming-of-age, teen flick), along with all its clichés, and gives it new life with a fun fantasy element. It focuses on two characters Taki, a teenage boy from Tokyo, and Mitsuha a teenage girl from a small provincial town. Taki wants to impress a cute girl at work, and Mitsuha is desperate to escape to the big city, away from the taunts of her classmates and the high expectations of her father. It all seems familiar. But, the two protagonists find that without ever having met before, they are swapping lives during their dreams. This is handled beautifully, with so much charm, particularly in the first half of the film. The way the characters interact through diary entries and notebooks, and their attempts to fit into each other’s lives is honestly (if at times awkwardly) hilarious. The excellent pacing of the film’s first half adds to this sense of fun and hilarity.
Character study: The characters themselves are also a lot of fun. Mitsuha, in particular, lends an air of sarcastic humor and teasing to the film that works well. Both of the protagonists’ act, think, and feel like real teenagers, and the film does an excellent job of developing their characters without letting the plot drag. They’re both lovable characters, and their growth throughout the movie, not only suits its genre as a coming-of-age tale, it also helps to develop a lovely and believable romance between them.
Pacing problems: Unfortunately, around the halfway point of Your Name, the movie takes a sudden turn that completely changes its tone. It’s no longer a light-hearted, fun flick, and it suddenly needs to bring a lot of plot and thematic threads together, and explain them all, in a limited time frame. This is particularly jarring, not just because it almost feels like you’ve entered a different story, but because it happens during the climactic moments of the film. There is so much to distract from what should be an intense, tension-building race to save the town and its people, that the movie begins to feel drawn out and heavy-handed. The final act of the film has similar pacing problems. It takes far too long to tie everything together, and it lingers on scenes that all seem to be reiterating the same points. Admittedly, when the end does eventually come, it is very, very sweet.