My wife and I just got back from seeing this film on its opening night here in the States. We went with a couple of friends, one of whom is just getting into anime. The theater we went to had listed our showing as the English Dub (The first trailer below), but we ended up with the Japanese version, which suited us all just fine. We all prefer to see anime in Japanese for the most part, but I doubt we’d have been disappointed if it had been English. Funimation has a habit of putting out high quality English dubs, from Psycho-Pass to Attack on Titan just to name a couple. And the theater was almost full, which was nice. It reminded me of when we saw Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale a few weeks back. It certainly beat how we were the only ones in for the live action Ghost in the Shell.
Anyway, I won’t give too much of the plot away in my review (Or any future reviews), but just in case I will post the meat of the review right after the English Dub Trailer below. First, a synopsis taken from Funimation Films‘ site:
“The day the stars fell, two lives changed forever. High schoolers Mitsuha and Taki are complete strangers living separate lives. But one night, they suddenly switch places. Mitsuha wakes up in Taki’s body, and he in hers. This bizarre occurrence continues to happen randomly, and the two must adjust their lives around each other. Yet, somehow, it works. They build a connection and communicate by leaving notes, messages, and more importantly, an imprint.
“When a dazzling comet lights up the night’s sky, it dawns on them. They want something more from this connection—a chance to meet, an opportunity to truly know each other. Tugging at the string of fate, they try to find a way to each other. But distance isn’t the only thing keeping them apart. Is their bond strong enough to face the cruel irony of time? Or is their meeting nothing more than a wish upon the stars?”
As you can see from the trailer, the animation is gorgeous. I have yet to see anything as smooth and detailed as what I’ve seen in this film, and that includes Disney films of days gone by, and even Studio Ghibli, although Ghibli would be the closest to compare it to. For this reason alone the movie is worth seeing, at least if you’re a fan of animated films.
The plot and setting are both solid, with aspects of the setting (The small country town that the heroine Mitsuha lives in, especially) fully explored and used to drive the main story. For instance, a couple of minutes is spent early on in the film showing Mitsuha and her sister carrying out a ritual at the shrine their grandmother maintains, where they make sake from rice that they are chewing and then spitting into containers. These containers are then sealed and given as an offering to the god that watches over their town. You initially think it’s just a bit of interesting worldbuilding with the added bonus of self-conscious Mitsuha being mortified when she realizes that some of her classmates witnessed the ritual. But, this cool little bit of worldbuilding and culture sharing is instrumental in the story’s ultimate resolution.
The amount of high schooler hijinks is kept to a level necessary to provide much needed humor in a story that grows increasingly tense without going overboard. Mitsuha and Taki swap bodies with one another for an entire day at a time, meaning that one will go to sleep Sunday as themselves, spend all day Monday as each other, and then return to their original bodies in time for Tuesday. This does not go unnoticed by family and classmates, who see the switches in personality and mannerisms as explainable only by “Well, s/he is a teenager, so…” The humor stays mostly clean, although there is a bit of boob-groping on the part of Taki pretty much whenever he wakes up in Mitsuha’s body, but without any actual skin showing. Be warned, though, if that is a problem for you and/or your children.
The music was great to the extent that many times I didn’t notice it separate from the scene unfolding before me. It was just another part of the experience, blending in perfectly with the animation, the setting, the characters, and the tension (or levity) of the scene at hand. About the only time it really stood out were during the scenes where vocal tracks were used.
Without blathering on any further, I’ll just end it with saying the movie was fantastic, I’d like to go see it again, and I hope others will do the same.
If I have to have a rating for the movie, it’s A+.