If you're an Anime fan that follow the news then I'm sure you've no doubt heard of Makoto Shinkai and his recent run away success with Kimi no Na wa, Your Name as it's shot over the 2 billion Yen record, beating even Ghibli movies and even Harry Potter at the Japanese box offices.
In Your Name, Taki and Mitsuha (two highschool students as usual) finds themselves waking up in the body of the other every so often and their lives become intertwined. Mitsuha is the rural countryside girl, burdened with carrying on the family tradition of crafting and Shinto beliefs. She's tired of being in the countryside and wishes she was a handsome guy living in Tokyo. Taki becomes exactly that guy who lives in the city and as the story goes on however, they find their lives are tied to much bigger events in time.
I was expecting something extra special with the disc release considering it's success and indeed it did get special treatment.
Since the movie was such a success I decided to go all the way and import the Collectors Edition this time which is probably also the first Anime in 4K. A lot of stores were offering exclusive bonuses as with usual Japanese sales tactics but I decided to stick with Amazon JP. Having a B5 canvas print was appealing but Toei's offering only showed the characters and didn't have any of the beautiful backgrounds Shinkai's works were known for. But anyway...
My copy actually arrived double boxed... One box in another, lol. It was quite heavy and probably due to the 2 books that came with the CE. Cost £86 from Amazon Japan with pre-paid customs and shipping so you don't have to worry about it being "jailed".
Wasn't expecting the postcards to be the shiny type.
It kind of ruins the original artwork since Shinkai's style already has plenty of highlights in its illumination.
Nothing special on the back as you'd expect from a postcard.
Even the Amazon exclusive framed image was double bagged.
The A4 sized cardboard frame is solid and had an original illustration of Taki and Mitsuha inside. Probably won't be putting this out anywhere ^^;
There were also film bookmarks featuring scenes picked out by the staff that is randomly given out with all editions of the movie... Which bookmark did I get?
It was a scene near the end of the movie when adult Taki is walking across the bridge. Wanted the Shinjuku Station or stairs scene but I guess this has a fairly good background too.
Interesting how it's winter, cold and snowing but the orange tint makes this a warm happy scene where adult Taki and Mitsuha passed each other.
It also reminds me of adult Takaki and Akari from 5cm passing each other too... I guess artists can't get away from their older works ^^;
If you ever need to take photos of a piece of film like this, you can always use your phone or tablet as a lightbox and just load up a blank page. Downside is it can end up capturing the LCD crystals or moire patterns though.
Unlike the limited editions of 5cm and Children Chases, these aren't cuts from the actual film reel so they're not auctioning as much. For reference, the crossing scene in 5cm fetched US$300 whereas in this case, the crater scene where Taki and Mitsuha finally meet seems to be the priciest so far but still only fetching around 3000 Yen (£21). Full sets going for around 35,000 Yen (£245).
A scene like the one I got here is only fetching 700 Yen (£5) but they're still great limited collectibles ^^
If you're interested you can bid for the bookmarks on Yahoo Auction via Buyee.jp as a proxy which is in English but there are loads of fees!
I ended up bidding for more of the bookmarks myself since the one I got wasn't one of the ones I wanted...
As I mentioned earlier, the crater scenes are the most expensive ones but despite that they were snapped up quickly.
Originally I just wanted the scenery ones but...
Some others were going for cheap so I decided to go for them as well.
So now I have the full set of 34 bookmarks!
Anyway, onto the exclusive content for the Collectors Edition.
As with previous Shinkai's works, there are English and Chinese (Simplified) subtitles with the main movie.
The translations aren't "engrishy" but there are parts which could have used some notes like fansubs do but we'll come to that later.
Box itself has some texture on it instead of being a smooth surface like previous LEs and the title is shiny too which kind of gives it a premium feel.
Well, I guess it does cost 12,000 Yen (excluding sales tax) after all!
It's also the biggest packaging yet out of all the previous limited editions.
Probably the size you'd expect from a series boxset.
Inside the digipak were the chibi stickers that came with all versions of the movie along with some promotional leaflets.
And yeah, I bent them a bit already while re-folding the digipak ^^;;
An artbook (not the visual guide!) was due 4 days after the disc release but it got pushed back to August 2nd and, it's supposed to be filled with 220 backgrounds from the movie.
The 6 part digipack is kind of animated as you fold it out.
Taki and Mitsuha reaching for each other.
And then separated far, far apart in a long panoramic scene ^^;
On the inside there's actually a lot of phrases from the movie etched into the back too like, "Who are you?" or "What's your name?"
Bonus discs 1 and 2 are the same as the Special Edition.
But the CE also has 2 extra discs, one with more bonus material...
And another, the movie in 4K UHD blu-ray which you'll need a new player to watch because of the way the discs are manufactured unfortunately... Probably won't be watching this until either I get an Xbox One or PS5 (or whenever Sony decides to add a UHD disc player into their consoles) ^^;
It will be interesting to see whether this movie gets a separate standalone 4K re-release in the future so that anyone who didn't want to splash out on the CE can get it at higher quality - at the moment only Hong Kong has it available as a stand alone release (with English subs).
Apparently the movie wasn't actually produced in 4K so what you actually get is the remastered, upscaled version of the 2K movie used for the IMAX screenings. That probably means you're not missing out much even if you're just watching the regular 1K BD version of the movie...
Well, I guess you still have an official upscale of it rather than let your own hardware/software deal with it.
From the short clips I've seen of the 4K version, visually the movie looks sharper but not more detailed. In fact, it's so sharp and high clarity that it looks like the characters are moving in front of cardboard backgrounds - the kind you see in pantomimes. The simple render In the 1K version you don't notice it as much.
The simple rendering of the characters seem to just pale in comparison to the backgrounds.
Anyway, on with the unboxing...
Another CE exclusive, the condensed script book used during audio recording sessions and like the box itself it has a very nice texture to the cover.
It's organised into sections which are then further split into I'm presuming "cuts", each scene in the movie that is given to teams to create and animate.
The accompanying 100 page movie booklet that comes with the Special Edition too wasn't low quality either and is printed in thick glossy paper - feels higher quality than the last Children LE.
Half the book is made up of character profiles and interviewing the voice cast like Ryunosuke Kamiki (Taki)...
And Mone Kamishirashi (Mitsuha)...
But it also has a generous number of illustrations that were used with marketing in it - probably more than the Walker Book or even the visual guide book.
We'll just have to see if the official backgrounds art book has the same illustrations or something better.
There wasn't a draft short story this time which seemed to be how Shinkai brainstormed his previous works but, there was a copy of the early proposal made 3 years ago.
I think not all the sketches are in here because it doesn't have the one Shinkai teased showing how Taki could have grown up to be an enforcement officer, lol. I have the feeling they'll release another Your Name book called "draft/storyboarding" just to keep cashing in on the movie's success...
It's a shame they sold the OST separately but I guess it was good news for people who didn't want to splash out but wanted the soundtrack.
Main Movie Disc
The blu-ray menus aren't too creative but since the still background art is already visually stunning, that's not a bad thing.
As you can see, other than being able to watch the movie with English subtitles, you can watch it with the English version of Radwimps' theme song "Zen-zen-zen-zense [Pre-pre-pre-Previous Life]" instead of the Japanese one.
It has your usual collection of movie trailers but also a filmography of Shinkai's past works including his indies film Voices of a Distant Star all the way until Your Name.
There's also a feature where Kamiki (Taki) goes on a 5cm location hunt too where he visits 3 of the locations around the Yoyogi area.
Was quite fun to watch since it reminded me of my own little tour.
Bonus Disc 1
Also included with the Special Edition. This contains the pilot version of the movie which is completely voiced by Shinkai alone and, there's also a documentary making of. Artists and aspiring animators should find the documentary video interesting even though it doesn't have English subtitles.
You can actually see the scenes they're animating numbered the same way as the CE script book like D221 here with Mitsuha running and jumping with a 1, 2 step rhythm.
Reminds me of the light-hearted insight Shirobako gave me into the Anime industry ^^
Bonus Disc 2
Now the menu for this disc is a bit more interesting. There is a shot of the Docomo NT building in Shinjuku with the sun ray's gently animated.
You also get a "visual commentary" where the voice actors for Taki and Mitsuha make comments while watching the movie together with Radwimps.
I think it's a Japanese culture thing because you see a lot of TV programmes where they focus on the guest's facial reactions on Japanese TV.
There's also a music video for the "Sparkle" theme song and the Suntory Natural mineral water commercials.
I think the most interesting part of the extras was probably the alternative audio tracks used for some of the movie's scenes like here at the cafe, instead of Mitsuha complaining about too many shifts it's just the angry voice of the chef.
Bonus Disc 3
I think the same animated lighting happens here but not quite as noticeable.
This features a video of Shinkai giving a presentation about the movie at the Saku City Library, Nagano talking about why he enjoys creating stories, how he goes about them (in this case, Your Name of course) and the role of modern day fiction compared to the days of fairytales/folklore.
Other than that there's also a small collection of Shinkai presenting his film at various events such as the Anime AX Expo in America and Busan Film Festival in Korea.
UK Steelbook Edition
I wanted to import the OST but since that was going to cost as much as the UK release after customs, I thought I'd get the local steelbook.
The steelbook art is nice even though the promotional stairs scene is everywhere.
It's printed really well because even the small details such as the window frames and different tints used for the leaves on trees are very clear.
There's nothing that lists the OST track names but it contains the same 27 tracks that was sold separately in Japan.
They chose a different background for the blu-ray menus and I can see the complaints about quality control... The animated background (doesn't appear on the DVD) is quite blurry. Japanese menus were crisp.
Good piano score though.
The overall English dub isn't too bad. Reminds me of Ghibli movie dubs. They rewrote the rooftop scene lines to "A girl... A gal? A guy?" which I guess works since they needed to one word to match the different gender specific "I".
The Other Collector Editions
And just for completeness, let's have a look at the release in other countries.
Pretty much all the EU versions of the Collectors Edition comes with the bracelet Mitsuha wears. Italy went one step further and included a replica of one of the film strips that came with the Japanese CE. It's not quite the same but I think it's good too and the bracelet probably makes up for the real film strip bookmark anyway, lol.
Funimation in America on the other hand, had similar contents but without the art cards. I think the split down the middle of the box looks horrible...
Hong Kong didn't get a bracelet but they did get the 4K (upscaled 2K) disc version of the movie too.
Spoilers so don't read on if you haven't watched the movie or TokiKake: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time yet!
Compared to Shinkai's previous works, Your Name feels a lot more light-hearted. There's a lot of comedy and jokes complete with Radwimp's upbeat soundtrack and theme songs so, you'd be forgiven to think it was some comedy show. It's not the first movie to have a body switching plot but it mixes in a lot more elements from different movie genres than that.
Anyone who has seen all his movies will probably wonder, is this really one of this movies? Feels too happy even though all the beautiful artwork is definitely from his team.
In fact, the movie even starts off with a opening theme song so it felt very much like your regular Anime show.
It makes one wonder if he realised that most people don't like watching sad depressing stories so he decided to throw in plenty of comedy for this particular title... And perhaps this was part of the success. I wasn't far from the truth since in the Walker Book Shinkai says, "Making people laugh at characters makes them care about them. The more they laugh, the more they care and then wonder why such sad things can happen to such likeable characters."
And indeed, the movie is mostly fun comedy before the usual sadness kicks in. That familiar theme of distance in all of Shinkai's movies continues even here. Yet, you've got a romance comedy, time travel, beautiful artwork and mystery all rolled into one.
In many ways it reminded me of TokiKake: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), another movie I really enjoyed that has a lot in common - both romance comedies, involve time travel, saving their love from different timelines, then meets up and remembers each other despite the passing of time.
Your dramatic romance setting.
The difference of course is that TokiKake was completely sci-fi using machinery to time leap while in Your Name, it's granted by a higher power that grants the Mitsuha family body switching with people from different times.
I guess you could call that creativity in a way since we're all too familiar with the idea of using time machines and at the same time, it doesn't restrict the movie to the whole time travel hypothesises.
And to break the mold further, usually you'd associate shooting stars with romantic wish making but here it's not so romantic as a village gets destroyed.
It's also very "Japan" where the modern day world lives side by side with tradition in harmony as we see Mitsuha continue to carry her family tradition but, also see it playing a part in thwarting the disaster that would have been by time travelling not by modern day science but, by the high power they worshipped.
At one point there was a tweet that mentioned how the Western audience who watched the subbed version didn't laugh at the school rooftop scene where the many words for "I" in Japanese were used.
Like many who are literate in Japanese, it'll be interesting how they localise the school rooftop scene in the dub where the different words for "I" - watashi / watakushi / boku / ore, are used. Personally I think it would have been too hard to localise and better to just come up with a whole new scenario for the English dub. It's nothing new - if you're literate in Japanese and play a lot of JRPGs you'll notice the English subtitles are completely different to what they're saying for the sake of localisation or something that just won't work in the West. For subtitles they can preserve the original Japanese script but with notes.
So instead of Mitsuha getting lost on her way to school it could be something like...
Shinta: "That shop we went to the other way was awesome!"
Mitsuha: "Yeah, the dresses were so pretty!"
Mitsuha: "Video games...?"
Mitsuha: "Oh yeah, the video games there were awesome!"
And then continues from there with the "You seem to have a dialect." This would have gotten the same idea across that Taki was suddenly a girl.
Visually, it's as beautiful as ever - probably better even. The amount of detail you see in scenes have clearly gone up since Shinkai's team expanded. Have a look the Tokyo skyline from 5cm that was produced over 10 years ago before Your Name!
Then of course, you have the busy Shinjuku Station in Tokyo which isn't the first time that has appeared in Shinkai's works.
As mentioned in the Skies Longing for Memories artbook, Shinkai likes to re-use old graphics. I still find that a bit annoying - maybe it's a habit Shinkai picked up from working in the video games industry when he was still working at Falcom. It's like those stock photos or clipart that you see again and again on websites. How many did the Shinkai fans amongst you manage to spot?
For me there were 2 scenes that resembled ones from 5cm Cosmonaut...
The split moon which seems to be a way of showing the contrast of events that went from good to bad in Shinkai's movies. You can read the description from the 5cm novel.
Or, if you've read the official Your Name novel in English, it's slightly different but more or less the same mood, "There’s a pale, smooth half-moon overhead, all alone, as if someone forgot it there."
Then we have the Ai Shop (AKA "conbini") which is confirmed as the same model used for the Tanegashima one in the booklet.
There has always been complaints about the plain simple character designs in Shinkai's works but I think it might be different now that Tanaka Masayoshi did them this time. Anyone who has watched AnoHana or Anthem of the Heart should recognise the soft round faces of his designs right away.
On the other hand, it's impressive to see how Makoto Shinkai started off as a indies animator and created the short Anime "Voices of a Distant Star" alone before he moved onto setting up his own little team, working in an apartment to create "Days Promised in Our Early Days" and 5cm. Now that he has his own studio and has had such a run away success with Your Name, you have to wonder where he we go next with his success.
Your Name is now Makoto Shinkai's greatest work hitting the gold mine, beating Ghibli movie earnings worldwide - ironically Masashi Andou's Spirited Away too even though he was part of the Your Name team.
On the whole, I enjoyed the movie because I think it struck just the right balance between all the movie genres.
However, 5cm remains my favourite because it's more relatable. Where 5cm was a movie about relations drifting apart throughout life and things going wrong, people move on. Your Name on the other hand, was more a fun story where love transcended time, two people knowing each other through body swapping and time leaping.
The movie started off with a simple thought, "A girl might be living in the countryside but one day, meet her soulmate in a completely different world like the urban city." Then along with that thought Shinkai remembered an old poem.
In the early draft for Your Name, the film title was "Yume to Shiriseba" which is actually a line from an old famous poem by Ono no Komachi. In modern day Japanese, it would mean "If We'd Met In A Dream". The original lines from the poem were, "Perhaps that person will appear in my dreams if I fell asleep thinking (of them). Perhaps I'd never awaken even if I knew it was so (dreaming)."
There's a more thorough explanation of the poem on Manapedia (Japanese).
It was after this the ideas of body switching, meteor strike and threads of fate were added in to become the movie's signature scenes. Shinkai also admitted that some of the inspiration came from the body switching, sci-fi short story "The Safe-Deposit Box" by Greg Egan which you can read in his novella, "Axiomatic."
And here are some more "Q & A" translated from the booklet...
- Mitsuha's name came from the water god, Mizuhame and it was used because it sounded cute. Taki's name was more like the image of a meteor and came from the Hyakunin Isshu poem collection where one poem speaks of the rapids getting split by rocks but become one again afterwards. Quite relevant to the events of the movie - they're split up like the meteor but he does everything again to mend things.
- There is a deliberate full stop at the end of the movie title to mark how the story can start and end with the title which can both be a phrase or question in Japanese.
- The childhood friends Katsuhiko Teshigawara and Sayaka Natori has the same names as the characters from the novel version of Garden of Words but it's just a coincidence.
- There is a cameo of Yukino sensei from Garden of Words which Shinkai fans should recognise.
- Yukino from Garden of Words was 27, so was Takaki and now Taki. Shinkai was 27 when he created his first indies movie "She and Her Cat" so it was a special age to him when unsure of what to do.
- The stone you see in the crater is the meteor that crashed from the past.
- The ramen house in Takayama is fictional and isn't from a location hunt.
- The bracelet represents the impact from 1200 years ago; blue represents the lake, red and orange dusk.
- Taki's half moon t-shirt represents he was missing his other half Mitsuha.
- Taki saving the village was redone the most number of times because Shinkai wasn't sure whether this part of the movie should be serious or just be a comedy.
- The woman next to Mitsuha's dad was Mitsuha's older sister.
- Someone asked Shinkai who he wanted to swap with. He answered Mone, Mitsuha's voice actress, lol.
- The ending scene takes place 8 years after Mitsuha met on the train because Shinkai decided 8 years of searching for each other was long enough to let them reunite.
- When Mitsuha trips on the road while running to the town hall, Shinkai thought, "This is going to look like TokiKake (Girl Who Leapt Through Time)... Ah well. Not much you can change about how someone trips, lol."
- 5cm's primary color was pink. Garden of Words was green. Producer Genki Kawamura (Boy and The Beast, Parasyte) decided blue for Your Name because it was a summer movie.
- It's not uncommon for Anime to feature underwear scenes and in most cases, are considered excessive scenes to please fans AKA "fan service". So, someone asked why there was one in Your Name. Shinkai answers, "Being able to see the panties is natural. If it was hidden then you'd think it's unnatural and you think of the artist who drew it [instead of focusing on the movie]." I think it's at the start of the movie when Taki wakes up and finds himself as Mitsuha. I didn't even notice there was a pantie scene because it's so subtle compared to other Anime ^^;
Did you notice the English on Taki's flash cards? They're both related to the movie, "Have you seen Tiamat's Comet?" and "I'm searching for my counterpart".
Noticed by @ABin9000, the Boss coffee Katsuhiko bought from the vending machine was intially a Boss Premiere in the trailers (00:13 in the first bonus trailer). This actually only started becoming available in 2014 while Mitsuha and her friends were supposed to be in 2013 so in the main movie (00:11:21), they have corrected this to be a Boss Rainbow Mountain Blend coffee instead available since 2004.
No time paradox allowed in Shinkai's sci-fi movies.
And here is the actual Rainbow Blend coffee as seen from 00:11:21 of the movie which my local Asian super market actually had stock.
The following goofs were also spotted via the Movie Creator Kuwa Kuwa YouTube channel.
The comet's trajectory in the early part of the movie is different later as if it was mirrored.