The first time I watched this film was on September 17, 2016. I watched the piracy version with English subtitles. At that time, I never thought I would be able to see this film on the big screen in China, so I chose to download a pirated copy.

I personally enjoy watching animated movies and consider myself a half-fan of Makoto Shinkai. After all, just looking at the wallpaper-like visuals is enough to make my viewing experience enjoyable. I’ve seen all of his movies, but I can’t recall what films like The Voices of a Distant Star or The Place Promised in Our Early Days were about anymore. The weak point for me is the plot. The only thing I remember is the cherry blossom scene in 5 Centimeters per Second. I believe many people remember Makoto Shinkai through that work.

On December 1, 2016, in the early morning, I watched this film again. This time, it was the domestic premiere in a theater, and I watched it alone. During these two and a half months, the internet was filled with various rumors about the release of Your Name in China. Initially, it was said that due to leaked resources and rampant piracy, the release in China was canceled. Later, there were rumors that the film would not be available until the following spring at least. So when I saw online that Your Name was scheduled for December 2nd, I immediately decided to fulfill my debt to Makoto Shinkai and get a ticket.

After all, this film has been available for a long time, and it has become incredibly popular. There are also numerous comments and discussions about Your Name, so I won’t go into the plot details. I just want to describe my personal feelings about this film. It is undoubtedly Makoto Shinkai’s most outstanding work and an excellent animated movie. During the first viewing, since there were no Chinese subtitles, I didn’t fully understand all the dialogues. However, the story was smooth and complete, and the development of the plot made me want to keep watching. At the time, I saw someone in my social media circle post, “Makoto Shinkai with a good story is terrifying,” and indeed, this film completely overturned the impression I had of Makoto Shinkai’s films with stunning visuals but weak plots. Additionally, the film’s theme song, “Zen Zen Zense,” is exceptionally beautiful, which adds to the film’s merits. These were my impressions from the first viewing.

The second time, in the theater, my evaluation of the viewing experience can be summed up in two words: perfect. At the beginning of the film, every frame that appeared on the screen was of wallpaper-level quality. The visual impact cannot be fully experienced on a small phone screen. Seeing these beautiful scenes, it’s difficult not to be drawn into the film. Since it was the premiere, a midnight screening, almost everyone around me were couples waiting to book a hotel room after watching the movie. Initially, I thought most of the guys were dragged by their girlfriends to watch it, but I found that the guys were even more engrossed than the girls. When the first half of the film, with various body-swapping comedic moments, was presented on the screen, almost everyone in the theater laughed like children. Although I already knew the plot, in that kind of atmosphere, I also felt very happy laughing along. During the screening, I occasionally heard people praising the film’s music, and I occasionally saw people taking out their phones to capture some breathtaking scenes. Leaving aside the appropriateness of these actions, it at least proves that the film is very attractive to them.

In fact, it was really moving to see this film, both for the film itself and for being able to see it in the theater. I also admit that this movie still has some middle-aged dialogue, and the audience for this movie is also on the younger side, but this time so many people are willing to run to the cinema to see an animated movie, which is a happy thing to think. I believe there are many people in Japan who like the works of Min Jin, Mamoru Hosoda, Katsuyo Otomo, and Hoon Takahata, and I hope that the Chinese screen, which is occupied by Hollywood blockbusters, will be partly allocated to the films of these masters.