Your Name Is The Highest Grossing Anime Worldwide, And It Deserves To Be

There is a new anime box office champ. It's Your Name, one of the best animated films I've ever seen.

[Image: 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

As Comicbook.com points out, Your Name is now the highest grossing anime film ever, earning $US281 million ($372 million) worldwide and surpassing Spirited Away's $US275 million ($364 million) gross.

[Image: 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

Your Name has been a smash hit in Japan, but as ANN adds, it's also done spectacular business in China and South Korea, helping to propel the movie past the Studio Ghibli Classic.

[Image: 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

The film opened last August in Japan, and I tried to see it with my oldest son at the theatres, but they were sold out each time we went.

Weeks and then months passed, and even with all the hubbub the picture was getting, I never got around to seeing the movie. I had pretty much forgotten about it until I caught it on a flight to the US from Japan.

[Image: 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

In a way, it was a shame to see it on a plane, because that's hardly an ideal viewing environment. But I'm glad I finally saw it. Because, damn, it's incredible.

[Image: 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

Your Name tells the story of a teenage boy and a teenage girl who switch places when they fall asleep. The basic plot reminded me of a dumb 1980s comedy. They switch places? And hijinks ensue? Eh... Typing that out, the basic concept, yes, still sounds a tad naff, but the movie transforms it, supersedes it and goes to incredible emotional places.

School boy Taki lives in Tokyo, while Mitsuha lives in rural Gifu. When they change places, Mitsuha gets to explore Tokyo and her masculine side, while Taki is in the countryside, dealing with being a young woman.

[Image: 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

This is a powerful, deeply spiritual film that deals with a whole host of themes: The contrast in Japan between rural and urban, religion and science, male and female as well as traditional and modern.

[Image: 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

These contrasts make up the heart of the film.

The text "do inaka" (ド田舎) basically means "totally the sticks" or even "hicksville". [Image: 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

In Japan, for example, there is a marked cultural difference between the city and the countryside -- the inaka (田舎). There are linguistic variations, with people in different rural regions speaking with their own accents and dialects. Often, when people from the countryside move to Tokyo, they try to hide their local speak. Tokyo is exciting, and the countryside is seen as dull.

There are also different types of speech for men and women in Japanese. When the characters switch places, they need to act more according to what Japanese society expects of a young man and a young lady, such as the specific pronouns they use.

Writing "Mitsuha" so as not to forget. [Image: 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

Your Name explores traditional Japanese culture, much like Studio Ghibli films do. However, this isn't the countryside of a Studio Ghibli film, which is often idealised. There isn't the same romantic yearning for the past found in many Studio Ghibli works. Rather, it's a desire to either preserve it or break free of it entirely.

That's why in Your Name, characters might find traditional Japanese culture to be "old fashioned" or even embarrassing, having the desire to get out and go to the city. Your Name explores that, but also shows how traditional culture is kept alive, how that can seem like a heavy responsibility that isn't for everyone. It's that traditional culture, the indigenous religion and its beliefs, that strike a chord throughout the film.

[Image: 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

For about two-thirds of the film, Your Name is about young people opening up, growing and experiencing new things. You get to know the characters. They can be awkward or even jerks, but they're likeable. You want them to be happy.

Then, Your Name makes a sudden turn, taking me to a place I wasn't expecting. It's brings to the forefront echoes of very real recent Japanese history in a mystical way that cuts through the fabric of time itself.

[Image: 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

I wanted to see Your Name again on the flight home to Osaka. Because, like the characters in the film, our memories are fallible. We forget things, sometimes, even the most important details. We try not to, but we do.

[Image: 東宝MOVIEチャンネル]

There are moments in Your Name I will never forget. Nor will I forget sitting on the aeroplane, somewhere over the Pacific, fighting back the tears.


Comments

    I saw and I thought it was okay. I still struggle with the breakout appeal over this movie and I'd put any Hosoda effort over Your Name for picks of the new wave of anime features. Still it's nice to see any anime film doing this well.

      I agree. Hosoda movies are extremely good as well IMO, I loved the recent ones.

      Honestly, while I agree that it's a fantastic film, I'm surprised that it's become such a megahit. It doesn't really strike me as the kind of anime movie that would really break through to become the biggest success of all time- sure its contemporary setting and rom-com setup gives it a broader mass appeal to non-anime fans that other big films like AKIRA (perceived as too mature and violent for kids to watch) and Howl's Moving Castle (perceived as too childish for adults) might not have, but by the same token aside from the Freaky Friday Flip concept (which has been done in countless live action films) the story comes across at first glance as a bit mundane for an anime movie, which makes you wonder why so many people would go to see it other than word of mouth that "it's really, really good". I also felt that it had some notable pacing issues and other quirks that made it less than perfect (and why did it have an opening credits music video?), although like I said it was still an EXCELLENT film. I'm just saying that I'm taken off-guard by it becoming THIS big.

      Regarding Shinkai vs Hosoda, they're both incredibly good, and with the tragic death of Satoshi Kon (who made my favourite film of all time, Millennium Actress) a few years back they arguably join the still-not-retired Hayao Miyazaki as the top 3 guys in the industry. Honestly, I feel Hosoda's only flawless film was Summer Wars- Wolf Children was magnificent for most of its length, but the ending COMPLETELY lost me and left me feeling quite pissed off, and while The Beast and the Boy was fantastic, it suffered similar pacing issues to Your Name (actually a recurring problem I've come to notice in anime films when they feature timeskip montages). Mind you, I only just remembered that I never actually got around to watching The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, so I really should get around to rectifying that.

    Highest grossing worldwide and it hasn't been released here in North America yet. Really looking forward to getting a chance to see it but it's not in cinemas until April. :(

    I havnt seen this yet but I can already tell from the trailer I will like it.
    The animation looks fantastic and I love when they go to the extra lengths to add extra detail, really makes the final product feel finished.
    Will try and check it out this weekend if I can.

    TBH I will watch just about any anime providing its not a magical middle / high school girls fighting show....

    The story is really cool. Though I think the story actually becomes better if you watch it once, go away for a while then watch it again. (though that maybe just me being slow...)

    It has quite an overbearing top layer that makes it feel like a very typical teen romance comedy anime. Once you peel that back and start to understand the context around the different themes, it becomes even better.

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