Released last year, Your Name is the highest-grossing Japanese movie of all time. It’s a sci-fi romance about a city-dwelling teen boy who swaps bodies with a girl from a country town, leading both to learn about their differing lifestyles. Praised for its animation, sensitive storytelling, and original concept, it only received a limited release in the U.S. Hence why Paramount Pictures feels the need for a live-action, English-language remake, apparently.
It will be interesting to see how the remake adapts its source material. Your Name is deeply rooted in Japanese culture, celebrating the urban and rural homes of its two protagonists. The remake would likely explore an American version of the town/country divide, although it’s hard to imagine a J.J. Abrams movie expressing the same quiet emotional depth as the original.
So far, Hollywood has not had much success with live-action anime adaptations. Films like Death Note and Dragonball: Evolution were rejected by fans and critics, while the big-budget Ghost in the Shell earned backlash for whitewashing its lead character. (Major Motoko Kusanagi was rewritten as “the Major” for Scarlett Johansson, playing an android with a Caucasian appearance. But after seeing the movie, I stand by my original criticism that it’s riddled with racist subtext.)
Your Name seems like a perfect example of something that should just be re-released in its original format. While Abrams and Heisserer are celebrated filmmakers, the remake is bound to cause headaches as soon as it starts casting American actors in the lead roles. On the bright side, it does mean we’ll get to see a heartfelt romance movie with studio backing, a subgenre that is currently very rare in Hollywood.