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Your Name Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

The ties that bind us work in mysterious ways.

What They Say:
In Your Name, Mitsuha and Taki are complete strangers living separate lives until they suddenly switch places. Mitsuha wakes up in Taki’s body, and he in hers. This occurrence happens randomly, and they must adjust their lives around each other. Yet, somehow, it works. They build a connection by leaving notes for one another until they wish to finally meet. But something stronger than distance may keep them apart.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this film brings us both the original Japanese language track and English language track in 5.1 encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. Shinkai’s films have had some strong mixes in the past even when action isn’t a thing as they become fairly immersive. Your Name is no different in this regard as the swirling camera angles, the swell of the music, and the well done placement of dialogue across the soundstage are all spot on. The score is what drives a lot of things here with the way it plays out to accent the characters and it has a real warmth and richness that makes for a lot of fun, especially during its more playful montage sequences. Dialogue itself doesn’t get thrown to the rears much if it all but the film as a whole has a good design that knows where to focus and does it well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released in 2016, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Animated by Comix Wave Films, the project is just gorgeous. It’s really that simple. Shinkai’s works up their game with each new project and this one works some real magic in terms of color design to bring it to life with a richness that must be seen on a big screen. And that holds true whether it’s in the city or in the countryside, from the basic school uniforms of Tokyo to the more casual wear we get elsewhere. I love the expressiveness of the characters faces but it’s the color design with all the natural moments with the crater to the comet itself and everything in between. But I also loved the interiors of the main characters’ rooms where there’s so much detail to be had. It’s a great looking release through and through with nothing to really pick nits at and it’s one that really must get a 4K release some day to really shine in full.

The packaging for this regular edition release is pretty nice as we get an o-card slipcover that replicates the case artwork. It’s definitely better with the o-card as its’ brighter and more colorful but also has the metallic element in it that gives the blue a real shine in the light that’s just delightful. I like the artwork used as one of the main key visuals for it that shows our two leads and their locales with the comet providing the right kind of split for it. The back cover goes for a darker background with the comet flying through and the foil elements here give it some really great color that catches the eye perfectly. The summary of the premise is decent without giving too much away and we get a trio of simple but decent shots from the show. The extras are clearly listed and we get a good breakdown of both formats in the technical grid in a clean and clear way. While there are no show related inserts included we do get artwork on the reverse side with another key visual of the two on the steps that’s definitely appealing.

The menu for this release keeps things simple but works the right elements to set the tone for it. With a series of good clips showcasing the beautiful designs in the show playing throughout on a good-sized loop, the navigation strip is kept toward the bottom but not a full block that I dislike so much. The stripe runs across in a deeper blue and is quick to load and easy to access both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback. The layout is standard fare but it works well because the visuals are so strong so as to draw you in quickly and easily.

The extras for this release are definitely the kinds of things you want when it comes to feature films. There’s a very engaging video interview piece with Shinkai from his trip during Anime Expo last year that lets you get a good for the director and his approach to a lot of things. We get a filmography piece that recounts his works that runs about ten minutes with a lot of text that’s certainly interesting. And we get a twenty-two minute Japanese TV special for the film that became a real sensation as it talks with a range of people involved in it. While it may be fluff for the most part it’s interesting for those that are fans of the film.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The summer 2016 anime feature film Your Name was a powerhouse from Makoto Shinkai, which wasn’t too much of a surprise on some level. Each of his works have shown a real mastery of craft and a growing interest among those that like film in general but he’s got a strong following in the anime world itself ever since Voices from a Distant Star landed as a self-made project that wowed people and show the potential of the tools used to create it. Your Name ended up becoming something far more than just the latest Shinkai film as it tapped into something really important to viewers and the stories of repeat visits in Japan piled up. It was reinforced by a staggered $190 million take, the second larger ever for a domestic film in Japan, and fourth behind two Hollywood films with Titanic and Frozen. With Spirited Away being the only one that did better on the anime side, it’s in great company with where it landed for viewers. It also ended up being very well received overseas where it did another $165 million in a range of festivals, limited events, and more. It’s little surprise that it was acquired to be adapted by Hollywood.

The film is relatively straightforward in a way as it delivers the slow build to the emotional punch that gives the audience what they need after being worked over so well over the course of it. The story focuses on two high school students with Taki living in Tokyo and Mitsuha living in Itomori in the Hida region. Taki’s struggling with things in his own life but is living as you’d expect in the big city, getting school dealt with, working in a restaurant where he’s getting close to a waitress there, and spending time with his friends. He lives with his father who we don’t see much of but it feels like a life just on the cusp of adulthood and all those challenges ahead and he’s handling it well enough while also stressing about a lot of it.

To contrast it we get Mitsuha out in the countryside where she lives with her younger sister and her grandmother as her father left as he had little interest in the family life in the shrine that he married into. Once Mitsuha’s mother passed he became almost a stranger in a way, though he embarrasses her enough in public. Mitsuha’s a good kid that dreams of being in the big city but understands the ties that keep her here and the family aspect of the shrine and its deeper meanings that her grandmother tries to pass on. Mitsuha’s also pretty likable from very early on and that goes a long way as she doesn’t feel like she’s just a bunch of familiar cliches wrapped up together. There are rough things to her past that give her some weight and the little expressions, such as when he father admonishes her while she passes him in the street, speaks volume.

What gives the film its momentum is that for a relatively brief period overall, Mitsuha and Taki are able to exchange bodies for what seems to be a day at a time every couple of days or so. Taki’s waking up in her body has him doing the obvious of checking himself out while freaking out and she does the same in her own way when she ends up in his. Both of them present some real fish out of water material as they have to try and navigate this experience with work, friends, school, and family, something that they do get a bit better at once they realize it’s not just some weird dream. What the film wants to do is frame this as something that may be tied to the arrival of a comet that comes close every 1,200 years or so and it does some nice stuff with this in the background to lull you into this sense that there may be some sort of reason. My only frustration with all of it was that the two didn’t figure out a better way to communicate early on in a quicker way but there’s something about it that you have to bend on and it does make sense in the end, which helps to smooth out that wrinkle.

Admittedly, from the trailers, you can see where it’s going to go in a basic sense with plot. Boy and girl experience each other’s lives, they get closer even while at a distance because of the intimate way they see each other through it, and an event occurs that separates them and forces them to work hard and struggle to try and get past it. This is how most of these kinds of films work but under a good director, never mind a great one, it can be elevated easily because of the execution and trappings. And Shinkai does that with what feels like such frustrating ease that it just boggles. A good deal of what gets this to work so well is that Shinkai forces our emotional bond to it all through the use of color and the score to accent everything. It’s a slow build mixed in with the silliness of the character’s exploring their situation, but he’s layering in such beautiful visuals and moving the emotional beats with the score that as the twists come into play that “shock” and then forces them to go the real distance to make it work, you’re fully invested and pretty much on the edge of your seat to see if it’ll work out as Shinkai doesn’t always deliver what the audience wants.

In Summary:
I had missed out on the theatrical run for this film and did my best to limit knowledge about the story for it as much as possible, which isn’t easy when you’re writing about it regularly. So I didn’t get to go into this completely fresh but I had no idea how it would play out and how strongly it would connect me to the characters. Shinkai’s works have always been strong visually but this one feels like it’s stepped up to a whole other level and is just beautiful throughout where almost every frame is something you’d want to have up on a wall somewhere to admire. Funimation’s release is solid throughout with some very good extras for fans and a great looking and sounding release through and through. One of the must-own releases of the year.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, your name.: Interview with Makoto Shinkai, Makoto Shinkai Filmography, Special TV Program, Trailers

Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 7th, 2017
MSRP: $34.98
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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