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The Japanese anime tale "Your Name" is a beautifully rendered story of two teens brought together and kept apart by a twist of cosmic fate.
One morning, Mitsuha Miyamizu wakes up in her rural Japanese home and she's not feeling like herself. It turns out that she's not herself and that in her body is the spirit of Taki Tachibana, a Tokyo boy who's her age.
For some reason perhaps having to do with the comet that's visible in the Japanese sky the past few nights Mitsuha has found herself in Taki's body, and Taki is inhabiting Mitsuha's. They keep switching back and forth and find themselves having to cover for the strange behavior their friends noticed while they were gone.
After a while, they start to develop a system of communicating, leaving notes on each other's smartphones. Mitsuha learns about the bustle of the city, following Taki's school schedule and his shifts as a waiter in an Italian restaurant. Taki learns about rural life, as Mitsuha's grandmother explains how braiding cords a tradition in their village of Itomoru represents musubi, the traditional Japanese concept of the flow of time.
Mitsuha even breaks the ice with Okudera, the pretty hostess at Taki's restaurant, on whom he has a crush. But, on their first date, Okudera senses that Taki is thinking of another girl Mitsuha.
Then, at the movie's midpoint, writer-director Makoto Shinkai (who adapted his own novel) drops a bombshell that redefines the idea of "star-crossed lovers." It upends the narrative like a bolt from the blue, and the rest of the movie spins madly and energetically from that revelation.
Shinkai creates a gorgeous, richly detailed look at two sides of Japan: the ultra-modern Tokyo, where Taki lives, and the traditional rural life against which Mitsuha rebels. Shinkai's gift for melding these two Japans into a single, luminous story is what gives "Your Name" its exquisite tension.
A rural girl and a city boy switch bodies and lives in this gorgeous anime tale from Japan.
Where • Area theaters
When • Opens Friday, April 7.
Rating • PG for thematic elements, suggestive content, brief language and smoking.
Running time • 106 minutes in the Japanese version with subtitles; 111 minutes for the English-language dubbed version.