All About Japan

'Your Name' Gets the Live Action Treatment

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Toho, Your Name’s distributor in Japan, has just announced that a live-action Hollywood version of Your Name is in the works, with none other than J.J. Abrams attached as a producer.

The Hollywood Your Name will be a joint production between Toho, Paramount Pictures, and Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions. Along with Abrams, Lindsey Weber and Genki Kawamura (producer of the Your Name anime) will serve as producers. Handling the script is Eric Heisserer, screenwriter for Arrival (which earned him an Academy Award nomination) and Lights Out, as well as the 2011 The Thing and the 2010 A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Shinkai himself commented on the project, saying:

“Your Name is a film that was put together with the local creativity and domestic techniques of those of us living in Japan. With such a movie now intersecting with Hollywood, there’s the potential for the staff to show us new possibilities, which is something I’m looking forward to in the finished film.”

Kawamura also sounded incredibly upbeat about the project.

“There could be no better team to make this. It’s like a dream. When I heard that J.J. Abrams was interested in making a Hollywood live-action version of Your Name, I couldn’t believe it. Right up until I met with him and the people from Bad Robot in-person, I kept thinking ‘I’m dreaming. This has got to be a dream. But it turns out it’s real.”

The producer also expressed that he has the utmost confidence in Heisserer’s talents.

“Your Name is propelled to its climax by a fusion of science fiction and romance elements. I am certain that Eric will do an excellent job conveying that.”

No announcements have been made regarding casting or filming locations, but it’s unlikely that the live-action Your Name’s U.S. partners would be amenable to working with an all-Japanese, Japanese-speaking cast or filming in Japan (where filming permits are notoriously hard to obtain). While Your Name does feature some extensive Shinto imagery, most of it exists as symbolic window dressing, and the plot’s connections to Japanese folklore and societal norms aren’t so deep-seated that non-Japanese substitutes would ruin the film’s message. Still, the high-profile backlash from pre-existing franchise fans against this year’s live-action Death Note and Ghost in the Shell for removing Japanese elements found in the source material have to something the Hollywood Your Name’s production team is aware of.

Another difficulty the live-action Your Name will face actually comes from one of the anime’s greatest strengths, namely its gorgeous visuals. While many anime-to-live-action projects struggle to preserve the look and atmosphere of the characters, in the case of Your Name that challenge extends to the backgrounds and scenery as well. Shinkai (and by association anime studio CoMix Wave Films) gives settings a moist, glistening and vividly colorful quality that perfectly complements the pure-hearted emotion and cleansing catharsis of his films, and pulling that feat off in live-action will be as intimidating an undertaking as anything else for the producers of the Hollywood remake.

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