君の名は。「Your Name」

This film is pretty much mentioned everywhere now, from the time it was premiered around the world in 2016 to comparisons with Miyazaki Hayao and the possibility of an Oscar nomination. The buzz around Shinkai Makoto’s latest opus had been feverish to say the least.

I first encountered his work a few years ago when I watched his bittersweet 2007 film, 秒速5センチメートル (5 cm per second). Apart from the insane detailing of the film’s background art (I love the geographic accuracy and how the railway signs are depicted, something which I was in awe especially after visiting the country), the would he/she? questions I had on watching the story unfold until the end credits just killed me.

There had been a few articles and posts on social media describing that 君の名は。 was nothing new and pretty predictable, but I had to judge for it myself. I first caught the film in Sheffield when it came out on day one of its general release in the UK, and watched it again en route to KUL a few days ago.

I thought the film was pretty good from a lot of angles. I agree the similarity of Shinkai’s depiction of the human relationship is pretty similar (and that includes another one of his work – his 2013 short, 言の葉の庭 – The Garden of Words), and the panoramic vistas in many of the scenes of his films, especially those of the sky. However, I’d say those are his trademarks on his works, and at the end of the day, it’s the story that counts. If it’s a good yarn, that’s good enough. 君の名は。 revolves around Taki (Kamiki Ryūnosuke), a high schooler in Tõkyõ, and Mitsuha (Kamishiraishi Mone – I remembered her from the musical Maiko wa Lady), a teenage girl in the more rural (and fictitous) lakeside town of Itomori. The exposition of how the two teens are experiencing each other’s life is somewhat made obvious early on in the story, without Shinkai having to spell things out.

This body swapping experience obviously had an effect on the people surrounding Taki and Mitsuha some of which hilarious. Obviously, there is more to the body-swapping antics of the two and the reason for this extraordinary experience is made clearer when Taki decides to find Mitsuha.

I love the film’s music by RADWIMPS; further enhancing my personal experience of seeing the sights in Tõkyõ which I had seen in real life from my previous visits to the city. Like this landmark in Nishi-shinjuku:

Funnily enough, my favourite character from the film was Okudera Miki-senpai, Taki’s crush/arubaito colleague and voiced by the delectable Nagasawa Masami, seen here on a date at the famous Starbucks on the first floor of TSUTAYA facing the Shibuya crossing.

Suffice to say, Masami’s animated counterpart is just as delectable. I better say no more.

君の名は。 will be out on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on 30.10.17.

劇場版 ソードアート・オンライン -オーディナル・スケール- 「Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale」

I had finished watching this anime some time last year on Crunchyroll. Interestingly, I had bought season 1 on DVD in KL prolly way back in 2014 but never got around to watching it. Furthermore, the subs on the DVDs may well be a bit naff looking at my past experiences in buying Malaysian-made anime DVDs. The premise of SAO is about a bunch of people who participated in a virtual reality MMORPG who are trapped in the virtual world of Aincrad and the only way out was to complete all hundred levels of the dungeons and defeating the final boss. It may sound like fun, skipping work/school with a valid excuse of being trapped but the snag is, if you die in the game – you actually die. Not good. Season 2 sees Kirigaya “Kirito” Kazuto, the protagonist, taking part in a new VR MMORPG called Gun Gale Online (GGO), although I have to admit that I hadn’t finished the rest of season 2 where Kirito rejoins his girlfriend/VR err… waifu, Yūki Asuna, and their friends for their new adventures.

I didn’t know there was a film out until I saw a friend’s Facebook update. The film is set after the events in season 2, which I initially thought I completed, not. Nevertheless, since the film was only released on 18.2.17 in Japan and South East Asia, I thought why not, three layers of English, Chinese and Malay subs notwithstanding.

The story revolved an augmented reality system named Augma, which pretty much have apps ranging from health to gaming. Unlike the NerveGear/ALO systems, Augma is considered safer as augmented reality (like Pokémon GO) does not involve diving into cyberspace. An Augma game that augments the immediate Tōkyō landscape[1] to that of Aincrad and getting gamers to fight bosses from SAO’s dungeon bosses seemed to be the latest in thing, dragging in Kirito, Asuna and the rest into what appears to be something more sinister than just a revival of the SAO universe. Unlike 君の名は。 which has been released worldwide, this SAO film hasn’t, and although I doubt not many read this blog, I’ll stop now.

The film is… all right, and prolly you’d be stoked big time if you are a big SAO fan. As for a casual viewer, to fully appreciate it requires some knowledge of the anime, in my opinion, but I still enjoyed it despite not watching the second half of season two.

And sometimes, I’d still go “Why was that shot necessary?”. And just to mention, as I watched this film in Malaysia, I noted two scenes that hinted of censorship. Lol.

Watch the film until the very end is my advice, whilst listening to LiSA singing the end credit theme, 「Catch The Moment」.

[1]You can spot a variety of Tōkyō landmarks in this film as well!