The arrival of Makoto Shinkais Your Name into UK cinemas seemed like a big moment for the anime industry in the UK (from the perspective of a very casual anime watcher it was an indication that theatrical distributed Anime movies could extend beyond Studio Ghibli (with the majority of the employees now having formed Studio Ponock.) It helped that it was an absolutely magical film that had a relatively long shelf life in cinemas even on limited screenings at each location. Theatrical anime screenings screenings have died down somewhat in the last year but but I was lucky enough to attend the premiere of Shinkais follow-up film as part of Scotland Loves Anime. You can tell that UK distributor Anime Limited have a lot riding on the film as in the pre screening introduction it was stated but this is the most Anime Limited have ever spent to acquire a film and that they be giving it a big push when it goes on general release. Was the money they spent worth the investment?
Definitely. Like with Your Name before it this film ma is very effective at fusing the mundane and the fantastical (a down on his luck high school student meets a girl with power to control the weather) and the scenes focused on this core story or where the film is at it’s brilliant best. It’s also one of the most gorgeous looking pieces of animation (anime or otherwise) I have ever seen and there were times where I wanted to pause the film and bask in all its visual beauty. Radwimps return to do do a solid j-pop/ rock soundtrack
The film is guilty of getting a little bit muddled at times introducing and focusing on additional plots and elements that don’t feel particularly cohesive with the main story (especially in the third act) but I was so caught up in the main story as a viewer that this did not bother me too much. There’s also a particular plot point that may come across as a bit questionable to a western audience and some rather egregious product placement at times (you can tell various Japanese and global brands lined up to be in Shinkais next film)
Despite a number of small issues this is a very strong follow up to his mainstream breakthrough for Shinkai and should enable him to cement his position in mainstream animation and prove that his breakout hit was not a fluke. If you’re a fan of Shinkai and his work I think you will come away very satisfied.
The film is currently scheduled for UK release on 17th January 2020.