Your Name, one of the greatest anime movies

With 2016 is coming to an end, I thought that it was important to review the highest grossing film in Japan this year ($172 million) and the second highest grossing anime film of all time ($288 million). The film has received critical acclaim, earning 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 81 out of 100 on Metacritic.

Who created Your Name

Your Name is from the director Makoto Shinkai, who created Distant Star and 5 Centimeters Per Second. It’s based on the novel of the same name, it premiered during the Anime Expo 2016 convention on July 3, 2016. Your Name was animated by CoMix Wave Films and distributed by Toho.

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What’s it about

The story centers on a high school girl named Mitsuha who wishes to be a handsome Tokyo boy in another life. A boy named Taki, wakes up and realizes that he is now Mitsuha. Taki and Mitsuha switch bodies, they communicate through leaving paper notes and memos in their phones.

Rising anime talent Makoto Shinkai concocts an outlandish and enormously entertaining  romance whose central couple spontaneously begins body-swapping. – Variety

They begin to interfere in each others lives, Mitsuha helps Taki being a relationship with a coworker, Miki Okudera. Taki increases Mitsuha’s popularity in high school. Suddenly, Taki and Mitsuha return to their previous bodies. Taki begins searching for Mitsuha, without having the name of her village, he uses sketches that he created by memory.

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Shonen Ace Feb 2017

He is finally told by a restaurant server that he’s looking for Itomori. However, he is informed that a fragment of comet Taimat fell to earth three years ago, killing a third of Itomori population. Taki searches through the names of fatalities and sees Mitsuha name listed. He realizes that Mitsuha existed on the completely different timeline.

Pop Culture Successes Point to Warming Relations Between China and Japan – Variety

Taki drinks an offering that Mitsuha leaves behind and returns to her body. He attempts to save the town, managing to convince her friends to help her evacuate the town. Eventually, they finally meet, Taki tells Mitsuha to convince her father to evacuate the town. Their memories of each other begin to fade and Mitsuha begins to give up on Taki.

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However, after inspiration from Taki’s “I love you,” she begs her father to evacuate the town a second time. The comet crashes into Itomori, it is revealed eight years later that Mitsuha succeeded in convincing her father to evacuate the town. Taki has moved on, living his life, he graduates from university. However, he does have a fondness for items from Itomori. Finally, while riding on parallel trains they see each other and finally ask each other their names.

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Opinion

I generally don’t gravitate towards anime outside of the typical Shonen type, however, the critically acclaim of this movies made me curious. I’ll admit that I really liked this movie. I cared about Taki and Mitsuha, their relationship and was sad when I found out she had initially died. Even with it’s heartbreak, Your Name does have some humor. The tendency of Taki to fondle Mitsuha’s breast’s when inhabiting her body, while juvenile, was still funny. Finally, the animation is some of the best you will ever see. Even if your not a fan of romance (like me), any anime fan will enjoy this movie. Check it out. Happy New Year.

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Is the latest One Piece movie a hit?

One Piece movies can be hit or miss. The tenth One Piece movie, One Piece Film: Strong World was good but I didn’t like the eleventh one, One Piece 3D: Straw Hat Chase. However, the previous One Piece movie, One Piece Film: Z is my favorite so far. The latest One Piece movie, One Piece Film: Gold falls in between 10th and 12th movies. 

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What is it about?

Set in Gran Tesoro, an independent country chartered by the World Government, home of the world’s greatest entertainment city where well-known pirates, Marines, and millionaires throughout the world gather in an “absolute sanctuary” that even the World Government can’t touch.

There, the Straw Hat Pirates meet the ruler of the country, the golden emperor, Gild Tesoro, who easily wins pirates, the Marines, and even the World Government over to his side with money. He is about to take action to satisfy his bottomless ambition which may result in major changes in power relationships in the New World.

(Source: onepiece.wikia.com)

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How’s the movie?

One Piece movies have been inconsistent when it comes to quality of animation, but Gold is beautifully rendered. I’ll admit that by the time movie ended I couldn’t stand the sight of gold. Gold basically puts the Strawhat’s in a heist movie, full of scams and double crosses. The story is rather simple and straight forward, but very funny overall. The general formula for a One Piece movie is followed without many surprises. As a villain Tesoro is typical and his powers aren’t as interesting as previous One Piece villains. His backstory was more interesting but didn’t get a thorough telling and was simply a series of flashbacks. If it was intended to illicit sympathy for Tesoro it failed.  

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How are the fights?

The hallmark of a good One Piece movie are the fight scenes, this movie had several. Like most One Piece movies the fight between Luffy and the main villain (Tesoro) take center stage, leaving the rest to be quickly concluded without much detail. The most egregious example of this is Sabo vs Rob Lucci, any fan of One Piece would love to see that fight in it’s entirety. Overall, I found the fights to be unsatisfying. 

Should I watch this movie?

I think this movie fails on many level’s. It had potentially to tell a greater story and didn’t. The backstory of Tesoro could have been shared at a greater length for a larger impact. Something felt missing, when you consider that the World Government and The Revolutionary Army were in this move. It felt like the were miss used. Overall, if you love One Piece you’ll enjoy this movie, the action and animation are pretty good. 

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Anime Review: Little Witch Academia

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Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade is the Kickstarter-funded sequel to the acclaimed “Little Witch Academia“, released in 2013. This sequel has proven to be a worthy heir to its predecessor. Created by the famed Studio Trigger*, the story continues to follow the story from the previous movie. We follow the main protagonist Akko Kagari, her classmates the nerdy Lotte Yanson and the gothic Sucy Mambavaran.

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They continue their magical education at Luna Nova Magical Academy and appear to be performing inadequately. They create a monstrosity out of “brownie and a poisonous mushroom”, resulting in the unfortunate poisoning of their classmates. They are punished (again) for their poor behavior and are tasked with organizing this year’s “Witch Festival”. They are joined by three fellow troublemakers, thief Amanda O’Neill, Constanze Braunschweig Albrechtsberger manufacturer and seller of illegal high-tech devices and Jasmineka Antonenko food thief.

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Akko decides that she will take charge and change the narrative of the tradition festival, showing witches in a positive light. Akko shows that she is immature and self-centered. She ignore’s the opinions of her friends and alienates them in the process. Feel down and out after a series of setbacks Akko becomes inspired by her idol Chariot. She heads to the library and begins to study magic in preparation of the festival. Akko invites her friends to join her, she along with Amanda use a rod to steal some magic for the festival.

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During the festival, things start off well. However, several of the towns boys harras them and steal their magical rod. The stolen rod’s magic awakens a sleeping giant that attacks the townspeople. Ursula, the teacher of Akko uses her magic to distract the townspeople and include the attack into the festival itself. Together the witches come together to subdue the giant and improve the perception of the Witches.

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Overall, Little Witch Academia takes what made the previous movie in the series so exceptional, and expands on the world and the characters. Studio Trigger continues to impress with their animation style that made other series like Kill La Kill, Gurren Lagann and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt stand out Animes. The fluid nature of the animation with the muted color gives a lively feel. While the story was predictable and the characters were formulaic, LWA remains a standard for good anime.

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The Good:

  • LWA’s plot and characters are predictable, but this doesn’t hinder the enjoyment of the story. 
  • The animation quality of the series remains spectacular.
  • The world of LWA is expanded.

The Bad:

  • The series alludes to the “history” of witches being persecuted. I think this series could have expanded on this aspect of the universe, instead it was glossing over it.
  • The rules of magic haven’t been explained. The series doesn’t leave the viewer completely ignorant, but depth would be appreciated. 
  • Only a movie, not a full series. I probably being a little ungrateful here, but if there is an anime that needs a series it’s LWA.

The Verdict: 4.9/5

*Several of the founding members of Studio Trigger worked with Gainax.