Radwimps play a part in the popularity of anime film ‘Your Name.’

by May Masangkay

Kyodo

There seems to be no stopping the soaring popularity of animated film “Your Name.” directed by Makoto Shinkai, as the body-swapping fantasy continues to attract fans at home and abroad.

Film critics list several reasons to the film’s box office success, and the connection between the story and music is certainly one of them. Shinkai himself has admitted to the great weight music carries for his film.

Shinkai, considered one of the heirs apparent to his country’s iconic and internationally renowned director Hayao Miyazaki, was all praises for Yojiro Noda, composer of the musical score for “Your Name.” and vocalist of the rock band Radwimps.

“I thought I could entrust Yojiro not only to provide music but to do so in a way that the music will (supplement) the dialogue or monologue of the characters,” Shinkai said before a packed audience at a screening at the Tokyo International Film Festival last week.

“While I do want the characters to express themselves, it is hard to convey (certain feelings) … so Yojiro could fill in through songs,” said the 43-year-old from Nagano Prefecture.

The film, marking a feat in terms of movie revenues for anime films other than works by Miyazaki, includes four songs from Radwimps such as the upbeat “Zenzenzense” and the melancholic “Nandemonaiya,” whose lyrics “convinced” Shinkai that what he had in mind for the film’s ending will deliver.

The story depicts the strange gender-swapping between Mitsuha, a high school girl living in the countryside and yearning for life outside, and Taki, a high school boy in Tokyo, in their dreams, although they have never met.

Noda, whose songs were inspired by the love story of the two main characters, said he was worried his music could “get in the way” of the flow of the story and initially focused on instrumental music. He was in for a surprise, though, when the director asked him for “more words.”

The film’s distributor Toho Co. has said that by mid-October “Your Name.” surpassed ¥15 billion in movie revenue since its Aug. 26 release.

Watching the film for the first time at the screening last week, Anastacia Celli, a 28-year-old exchange student from Italy, said her curiosity in the much-talked-about film was perked partly by hearing the music everywhere she went.

She said she was “impressed” by the story and the “many layers of feelings” she felt from watching the movie. “At first, I thought it was funny, then I became nostalgic and sad,” she said.

The teenagers’ fates become intertwined by the once-in-a-thousand-year fall of a comet, and the film pays tribute to Shinkai’s forte in beautiful scenery, such as skies that look like paintings and realistic recreations of the Japanese countryside and Tokyo.

Jun Yamaguchi, a 33-year-old company employee in Tokyo, could not agree more, saying he was captivated by Shinkai’s film visuals way back in “Voices of a Distant Star.”

“Simply put, the pictures are beautiful, so I would like to watch it again,” Yamaguchi said, adding that he liked the elements of time, distance and exchange of messages between the characters in “Your Name.”

The film has won an award for best feature-length film in the animation category at the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia in Spain, and prizes in the feature films category at the Bucheon International Animation Festival in South Korea.