Release Date(s)2016 (June 21, 2021)
Studio(s)CoMix Wave Films/Toho (All the Anime)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: C+
[Editor's Note: This is a UK release. The UHD is Region Free, but the Blu-ray is Region B locked.]
Your Name is a body-swapping romantic fantasy from one of the greatest filmmakers in the world of Japanese animation, Makoto Shinkai. Shinkai is a singular talent who dominates every aspect of his productions—in this case, he personally handled the writing, directing, cinematography, and editing. (He’s actually come a long way since his first feature Voices of a Distant Star, where he also did the art direction and animated the entire film by himself.) But unlike films such as Freaky Friday or Like Father Like Son, the body-swapping hijinks in Your Name are a means to an end rather than an end unto themselves. Your Name tells the story of Taki and Mitsuha, two young people who live worlds apart from each other and wake up one morning to find that they have inhabited each other’s bodies. They continue to swap back and forth for a few weeks until the process suddenly stops and their memories of each other begin to fade, though they cannot shake the feeling that there’s something important going on, and that it may be related to the impending arrival of comet Tiamet.
Shinkai loves to explore the ways that people overcome the distances between them through technology such as cell phones, and the gender-bending body swap at the center of Your Name provided another way to examine that theme. Taki and MItsuha have never met, but they end up learning about each other by experiencing each other’s lives remotely, as well as each other’s bodies. While this is unabashedly a family film, as a product of Japanese culture it doesn’t shy away from exploring the complications involved by inhabiting a body from the opposite gender. However, Shinkai’s goal was never simply to explore the differences between the sexes, but rather how those differences can help people learn more about themselves. The messages that Taki and Mitsuha leave on each other’s cell phones are also crucial to help them form a bond which proves strong enough to overcome even their fading memories.
While there are previous examples of this kind of a body-swapping story in Japanese film and literature, Shinkai’s real inspiration came after he visited some of the cities that had been wiped out by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. He realized that it could easily have been his own town which was destroyed, and so he crafted his tale as a way to let viewers switch places with the residents of a village destined for that kind of annihilation. It isn’t simply Taki and Mitsuha who get to experience each other’s lives, but viewers of the film as well. What happens to the two of them was a means to that end, as well as a way of showing a hope for a different future.
Your Name was a massive success in Japan, where it quickly became the second-highest grossing film from that country behind Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (though both were surpassed last year by Demon Slayer: Mugen Train). It was Shinkai’s first big international success, grossing $357 million worldwide. His next film Weathering with You also performed well and helped to cement his international reputation as a filmmaker. There’s no news yet regarding any plans for his next film, but whatever he does will be something worth anticipating.
Your Name was animated digitally at 1080p resolution and framed at 1.78:1, though it would have been cropped to 1.85:1 for its theatrical release. For the Ultra HD version, the upscaling, HDR grading, and encoding were all handled by Q-tec, Inc. in Japan, working from the master DPX file at 1080p with 4:4:4 10-bit color in the BT.709 gamut. The image was first upscaled to 4K with their custom FORS EX PICTURE process, which avoids creating jagged edges on the lines in the artwork without having to apply filtering that could soften the rest of the image. Then they created an HDR grade by translating the original BT.709 gamut into BT.2020 without alterations and focused on expanding the dynamic range of light sources, often working frame by frame, and even taking care to apply masks to the characters so that the faces would not be affected when they shouldn’t be. The results are a subtle but noticeable improvement over the Blu-ray edition. As this is animation, there’s no real difference between the two in terms of fine detail, but everything does seem slightly sharper on the UHD. When the Blu-ray is upscaled to 4K, the artwork lines look a bit thicker. It shows the difference between upscaling at the uncompressed source rather than using the compressed end product. The HDR10 grade doesn’t alter the color timing, though the increased brightness and contrast range can make it appear a little more nuanced. On the other hand, lighting effects are some of the most important visual elements in Shinkai’s work, and that’s where the UHD version shows its most noticeable improvements. The comet (which is seen repeatedly throughout the film) stands out the most, but the other elements such as light rays, simulated lens flares, and reflections also look brighter and more realistic. Highlights (such as the gleam of the gold on the headdresses worn during the sake ritual) really sparkle without obscuring the detail around them, while the Blu-ray highlights can look blown out in comparison. None of these differences are drastic, but this 4K UHD is definitely the preferred presentation of the film.
The audio is available in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with English songs, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with Japanese songs, Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Optional English subtitles are available for all versions. Unsurprisingly, the quality of the voice acting is superior on the original Japanese version, which is the recommended choice. The soundstage is generally biased toward the front channels with light ambient environmental effects in the surrounds, though they do spring to more active life when scenes call for it. Similarly, deep bass is used sparingly but appropriately for moments such as thunder or a few explosions which occur late in the film. The bulk of the mix is driven by Radwimps’ music, which sounds superb.
All the Anime’s release of Your Name is a two-disc combo pack which includes a Blu-ray copy of the film. While the UHD is Region Free, the Blu-ray is Region B locked. The set includes four postcards as well as a 28-page booklet featuring illustrations, character art, and Shinkai’s original story pitch for the film. There is a single special feature on the UHD:
- Trailers (UHD w/HDR – 5:44)
The rest of the extras are on the Blu-ray. All are included in HD, though a few of them contain material which has been upscaled from SD:
- Japanese Promos (5:04)
- English Trailer (1:39)
- Makoto Shinkai Filmography (10:45)
- TV Special (22:27)
- Madmen Trailers (5:31)
The Filmography includes trailers for all of Shinkai's films presented in chronological order. Each is preceded by a title card which gives a plot summary as well as a few details about that particular film. For those who are unfamiliar with Shinkai’s work, it provides a taste of what to expect from him. The TV Special is a promotional Japanese television program which features lead voice actors Mone Kamishiraishi and Ryunoske Kamiki, as well as an appearance by Shinkai himself. It gives a good overview of the film and the three key thematic elements in all of Shinkai’s work: The distance between people, the interplay of light and shadow, and realistic scenery. At one point, Kaminki goes on a pilgrimage to some of the locations which were inspirations for Shinkai’s earlier films, and it demonstrates the way that those settings were reproduced accurately in animation, yet with a twist to give them a more magical quality. While parts of the special may be promotional fluff, as a whole it does enhance appreciation for the film.
Makoto Shinkai may not be as much of a household name as Hayao Miyazaki, but he has been quietly revitalizing the art of animation in Japan for years with films like Voices of a Distant Star, 5 Centimeters Per Second, and The Garden of Words. Now thanks to the runaway successes of Your Name and Weathering with You, he is finally gaining the international attention that he deserves. Until someone releases a 4K Ultra HD version of Your Name domestically, this import version from All the Anime is currently the best way to experience it.
- Stephen Bjork
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