Your Name.

No, that’s not a joke, because that’s literally the title of the best anime of 2016, Your Name. It’s not just a great animated film, it’s a great film, full stop. Despite its rave reviews, the director has exhorted audiences to stop watching it because he’s afraid that all the flaws and imperfections of the film will eventually be exposed.

How many times do you meet a director who’s as humble as that?

So let’s find out what made Your Name so beautiful to watch.

1. Beautiful sets

Your Name. Credit: Purple Plan

Breathtaking scenery and sets in Your Name. Credit: Purple Plan

Take a while to look at the image above. That’s just one shot from Your Name. It’s a matte painting of Tokyo, and it’s only on screen for a few seconds and you could never catch all the details in it from just one glance. But it’s packed with details, from rooftops to the outline of every single building in the background.

It’s this meticulousness, this dedication to excellence, that made Your Name so amazing. If the environment that the characters find themselves in is already so lovingly drawn, what more the rest of the film, right?

2. Juxtaposition of rural and urban settings

Your Name. Credit: Purple Plan

Your Name’s farmlands. Credit: Purple Plan

If you thought the animators of Your Name could only draw cityscapes, the still above proves you wrong. It’s from the small town that Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi) comes from, and just like the amazing drawing of Tokyo, this countryside image is packed with detail. They’ve literally drawn in every blade of grass to create the feel of wide open spaces, full of natural flora and fauna.

But they’ve also cleverly inserted a motorcycle, a symbol of man, machine, and urbanisation. Throughout the film, this contrast between rural and urban serves to highlight the differences between the characters – and strangely, what connects the two leads.

3. Slow, pure, genuine love

Your Name. Credit: Purple Plan

Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki) and Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi)  Your Name. Credit: Purple Plan

The romance that develops is so subtle that you might even have mistaken the film for a buddy comedy at first. But it’s a love that’s not borne out of passion and raging hormones, nor is it about lust and epic gestures of lifelong love. It’s a love that develops from what the two characters discover about each other while living out the person’s lives. Technically, they never meet until the end, and they don’t remember each other’s names until the climax. But they remember what the other person is like.

They fall in love because of what the other person is like, not because of what the other person does. You can’t ask for a more sincere love than that.

4. How the two characters make each other a better person

Your Name. Credit: Purple Plan

Taki and Mitsuha in Your Name. Credit: Purple Plan

They switch bodies for one full day each time, but manage to keep it a secret from their friends and family members. This means that they have to masquerade as the other person in the mean time.

When that happens, their friends frequently comment about how they’ve changed for the better. Admittedly, this could be because the gender swap softens the masculine Taki and makes the feminine Mitsuha more decisive. But in a subtle way, it shows how the two characters complete and complement each other. They are better people for having known each other, and what more can you ask from your life partner?

5. The quirky Japanese elements

Your Name. Credit: Purple Plan

Taki, in Mitsuha’s body, experiments with the female anatomy in Your Name. Credit: Purple Plan

But what make it distinctively anime, rather than some other genre, is the fact that the film remembers to include the Japanese cultural context in it. Or rather, the limits of what’s acceptable. A running gag in the film is that whenever Taki wakes up to find himself in Mitsuha’s body, he’ll physically check her assets to… well, I’m not sure why. But Mitsuha’s sister always catches him/her in the act.

You can’t get more Japanese than that.

Your Name. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Your Name. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Your Name is reaching the end of its run (it’s been in cinemas for almost two months now!) so if you want to catch the best anime of 2016, you’ve still got a few days to go! Appreciate the story and beauty of the film, and you’ll be surprised by just how much the movie will touch you.

Here’s the trailer with English subtitles:

And as a special treat, here’s a gallery of stills from the film itself!

Credits: Purple Plan, Golden Village Cinemas