They’re the best Anime that 2016 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito, One Piece Film: Gold, Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky, and more!
5: Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito
MAL Score: 7.84
An adaptation of the visual-novel by Key, Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito combines the story of the original work with an expansion that extends the narrative with content from the Hoshi no Hito light-novel sequel.
In the future after much of the world has been devastated by nuclear and biological warfare, a young scavenger or “Junker” exploring a quarantined and abandoned city comes across a service robot still faithfully awaiting customers in the rooftop planetarium of a department store. Against his pragmatic instincts he helps the robot repair the planetarium’s projector: a decision which will change both their fates.
If you happen to be interested in astronomy I think you’ll find it very moving. Ditto if you often read post-apocalyptic stories in any form, and also if you’ve been doing any thinking about how life will be when robots routinely move among us.
It’s a little jewel, and I still am having feelings from it the day after watching it.
Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito, or Planetarian: Stargazer- is a decent movie for those who have not watched the original Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet, 5 episode ONA. Though this movie is a sequel, it includes many scenes from the original, allowing for newer viewers to catch up. Unfortunately, I think it would be better to watch the original 5 episode ONA than to watch the movie. This is because all as the scenes from the ONA are flashbacks which in my opinion lose their effect because they are not being experienced in real time.
One big issue with this movie is that 80% of it is flashbacks from the ONA series, which could’ve been left out so the movie story could’ve been further developed. Honestly this didn’t even need to be a movie but a 20 min episode if you cut out all the flashbacks from the ONA.
The characters are new and only one (the main character of the ONA) has remained, though you’d see the original robot girl Yumemi (the other main character from the ONA) very often in flashbacks. The new main characters of the three children aren’t honestly expanded a lot. No one from the new character was really developed sadly. However, the best character development has definitely been the now old the main character Kuzuya (The Junker/Old man in this movie). I would like to specify further, but that’s a big spoiler.
Animation is good, though not as good as the original ONA series. Why does Ruth have no eyes? (They cover his eyes with hair) This just seems like a little lazy animation- they drew eyes for the other two kids, why can’t they do it with him? The main character (the old man) Kuzuya also seems to suffer often from his hair covering his eyes. I would’ve liked to see his eyes more.
The soundtrack is practically the same as the original ONA, especially the main theme from the Christian hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus”.
If you’ve already watched the ONA series: It’s a decent movie and just skip all the flashbacks wherever you see them. I would not describe watching this movie as a big MUST, unless you’re interested in what happens to the main character after the ONA series.
If you haven’t watched the ONA series: Watch the 5 episode ONA first! You’ll absolutely love it.
Robots talk too much. And so does kids. This entire movie bears a resemblance to sitting down in the middle of a forest and letting all them mosquitoes suck you. Gah! So annoying! So irritating! Because there were so many interactions in the movie. I thought that I was watching an Indian action series and thus couldn’t get the full experience from it.
Everything about this movie is splendid except from the characters. Yumemi Hoshino aka The Planetarian Robot Girl, is so fucking annoying that I wish that she would just shut the fuck up. The kids in the movie are also such a nice combination of stupidity that if I were to be the MC of this movie, I’d silence them and put where I think that they should belong: back to where they came from.
Story : 10/10
Art : 9/10
Sound : 1/10
Character : 1/10
Enjoyment : 9/10
Overall : 9/10
This movie is like watching David Production flex about their knowledge of astronomy. In which I don’t really mind. But if you’re gonna flex then you better make it good. This movie nearly failed in that aspect. But it was luckily saved by the strong pillars formed by the story alone.
Eh. Ok movie I guess. Wouldn’t really recommend this to anyone because it staying underrated is already the perfect place of where it should belong.
4: One Piece Film: Gold
Japanese: ONE PIECE FILM GOLD
MAL Score: 7.93
Monkey D. Luffy and his Straw Hat Crew have finally arrived on Gran Tesoro, a ship carrying the largest entertainment city in the world. Drawn in by the chances of hitting the jackpot, the crew immediately head to the casino. There, they quickly find themselves on a winning streak, playing with what seems to be endless luck.
When offered a special gamble by Gild Tesoro—the master of the city himself—the crew agrees, choosing to believe in their captain’s luck. However, when they find themselves victims of a despicable scam, the crew quickly realize that there is something darker happening beneath the city’s surface.
Left penniless and beaten down, the Straw Hat Crew are forced to rely on another gamble of a plan. With the help of a new friend or two, the group must work to reclaim what they’ve lost before time, and what remains of their luck, runs out.
What to expect:
Luffy (Gear 4)
Roronoa Zoro (air swoosh)
From an aesthetic perspective the movie is basically flawless. The animation is gorgeous, the character designs are on point, and every costume change the case goes through is exciting and memorable. The film-exclusive character is far more memorable than most of her predecessors as she is an old girlfri- I mean accomplice of Nami’s from her cat burglar days, and their dynamic is simple but effective. Getting the One Piece cast to do a heist film is inherently interesting given how batshit insane the characters are, and the genre-standard twists are handled well. There is a particular sub-twist that makes perfect sense in universe that was both inspired and hilarious.
The movie isn’t flawless character wise. Like most OP movies the characterization is slightly off. Nami, despite having ample screen time, never comments on the fact that the kids enslaved by the casino are basically in the same situation she was in for a decade. Luffy seems unusually apathetic when a crewmate is placed in danger in the first act. Nothing is egregious, but it is enough to take notice. As for most modern OP films some characters are included for no reason other than to have them in marketing material. Still have no idea what Sabo and Lucci were doing. The gambler character introduced serves no particular purpose and just drags down the movie in the middle.
The main villain is compelling ideologically, but never gets quite enough attention to make sense. His devil fruit is busted to the point it is completely unbelievable, and the main confrontation between him and Luffy suffers as a result. Cool idea, but not enough spice to make him memorable.
Its a good One Piece experience, but outside the outfits and nice cuts of animation provides nothing to remember it by.
Score: Strong 6 to a Light 7
Our beloved straw hats are going to the biggest casino in the world to have some fun and of course they will meet the owner himself!
The Casino is the biggest ship I’ve ever seen in the series and I couldn’t believe it was moved by 2 gigantic turtles! “There is gold, gold, everywhere” I mean the whole casino is filled with golden buildings, statues, restaurants, hotels and even golden amusement parks!
The animation is by far the best performance I’ve seen in a OP Movie! I was really happy to see some darker colors in the movie because the casino is filled with thousands of golden stuff. So I saw yellow and golden colors the whole time. They have done everything right at this point!
The sound was incredible! Background music, conversations and fights. Everything was sounding like I wore high end headphones the whole time!
There are so many apperances from older arcs and of course I will not tell you who I mean! I loved the costumes because our beloved crew got some noble outfits!
I heard so many laughs during the movie because there are so many funny moments while the straw hats are enjoying the time in the casino!
I really enjoyed One Piece: Gold, because I love to see how the straw hats enjoy their time like a family! The best part are the final fights and they are all insane!
Watch this movie! You’ll see a lot of old characters from the past and a lot of funny moments with luffy and the rest of the crew.
3: Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky
Japanese: 機動戦士ガンダム サンダーボルト DECEMBER SKY
MAL Score: 7.93
Federation troops and Zeon forces carry out a fierce battle in the Thunderbolt Sector in what was once Side 4 “Moore.” The Thunderbolt Sector is a shoal zone composed of the debris of destroyed space colonies, named for the electrical discharges from the metal debris. MS pilot Io Flemming is among the Federation soldiers who are dispatched to the area, where Zeon sniper Daryl Lorenz awaits them on the battlefield.
(Source: Gundam Wikia)
Thundebolt then caught me completely off-guard. Having no time for animes these days I got the glimpse of the upcoming OVA through some promo I was never hoping to watch, It didn’t say much though, only showing some really neat looking battle scenes. I am a mecha fan, even putting aside the fact that I stopped watching anime some time ago, so it was only natural that I would be interested in a battle sequence that actually resemebles just that – a battle sequence. From there I was only secinds away from being completely blasted into oblivion by the first OVA episode. The animation, the music, the pacing, interesting characters and refreshing approach at the topic on OYW – all of that packed into merely a 20-minute-worth of screening.
Then, I couldn’t watch the other 3 eps because of chores and kind of forgot about it until recently, when I found out that it acutally got a re-release in a form of a movie: December Sky. And what a movie it is!
A spectacle is more appropriate – because technically and visually it blows away even the Unicorn OVAs and TV series! From ground up the visuals and audio are all pitch perfect. Finally one can enjoy eye-candy partially drawn battle sequences when there’s very little actual CGI involved. Sure, there is still some, but not very offputting and someone who’s not accustomed to the sight won’t even catch it. That’s very good, espeically in the era of mecha animes being nearly 100% done over CGI. Good job SUNRISE.
Then there’s the music, the score and voiceover – all top notch, as expected of a high budget SUNRISE theatrical release. Seiyuus in both Japanese and English versions do their jobs well, although I would still prefer to hear the original voiceover for the fact of a better lipsinc. Japanese seiyuu also tend to pour more emotion into their characters than their English counterparts.
Plotwise it is a traditional good vs evil story, however the twist is here that in war there’s no black and white but rather shades of grey and lots of ambiguity. The world in Thunderbolt is also much grittier than in previous installments and I believe that was the idea behind the project – to show, that wars in Gundam UC universe are comprised off not only genius pilots and giant robots but also, and probably most often off personal tragedies of minor characters that apear behing the curtains. In that aspect the story hits jackpot. It so reminds of another project like that caught me by surprise – 0080 War in the pocket. Albeit having an entirely different cast and approach to the topic of wars it still is, in a way, a reminisent of that amazing installment. Not often a 80 minute film will engage you so much into it’s world and keep you at the edge of your seat until you hurt yourself. Amazing.
Overall, I recommend it mostly to Gundam fans for apparent reasons, but also it should find some audience around your average Joe’s looking for a visually stunning mecha battle spectacle. For Gundam series to have a good story as an add-on is rarity these days, so enjoy it while it lasts.
*SPOILERS FOR MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM THUNDERBOLT*
Thunderbolt is definitely an interesting installment within the Universal Century timeline of Gundam. It preaches what we all know by now: war is hell. However, it doesn’t do this in a manner that makes it come off as obnoxiously preachy like say, Gundam 00 Second Season, and it doesn’t do that in away that involves shooting the quality of its writing in the foot like say, Gundam SEED and SEED Destiny (aka the entire Cosmic Era). At the same time, with hardly even a 1/20 of the length as the Cosmic Era in its entirety, and a mere 1/8 of the amount of runtime as 00 S2, it manages to do far more than both of those series in terms of actually showing just how fucked up war can be. Then again, a large number of series in the UC timeline is dedicated to this. So, even though it does more with the famous “war is hell” angle, does it stand on enough other merits to warrant being called a good addition to Universal Century? Let’s find out, shall we?
This is a side-story in the ongoing war between the Earth Federation and Zeon. As such, that war it referenced constantly and this is just an ongoing battle in one battlefield, as if it were WWI, where one battalion could be facing off against another in the same battlefield for months. Each side in this particular battlefield near Space Colony Side 4 had a key player: Io Fleming for the EF and Daryl Lorenz for Zeon. Each of them has some baggage that lead them to this war, and it’s all done with no words; it’s just the music and visuals which are left to speak the backstory to us. I can appreciate this kind of storytelling, where you don’t need words to convey something important about the characters, and that’s not something you can easily pull off.
In the actual battlefield, we get to see just how messed up it all can be, especially when kids are involved in the battle and are forced to panicky as they are slaughtered like their experienced soldier brethren. Some of the soldiers and captains risk their lives to save their crew, be given how much pride both sides have, they’d rather die than flee or get captured, and it doesn’t turn out pretty for the captain of the this Earth Federation mothership, who ends up getting killed by her soldiers over this same issue. Even the Zeon are willing to fight to the death and die in an explosion than get arrested, which is what they try to do in episode 4 when they’re infiltrated. Meanwhile, Io and Daryl, who plow through each other’s soldiers and get their own special mobile suits (Full Armor Gundam for Io and Psycho Zaku for Daryl) end up locked in combat and settling the score that is alluded to have started even before the events of the series, and that same score which has built up over the first 3 episodes, ending in a crazy climax in which neither of them wins. In the end, the Federation forces are captured (I don’t get how) and Io is tortured, albeit not without really spelling out the anime’s message for Daryl.
This anime really knows how to paint a picture on just how horrible war is, and it plays it up to Joe me without becoming preachy, and it does this with just 4 18 minute episodes, amounting to the screen time of 3 TV episodes, and it did so much more than the aforementioned Gundam anime in the preamble, which have so much more time. On the downside, there are Deus and Diabolos ex Machinas in the form of a thunderbolt saving a pilots life in episodes 2 and 4, with the first one being addressed in frustration by Daryl after he almost got a clean shot on Io. Still, this story worked rather well, and with so little time to do so, that’s impressive. Sure, the film has the added benefit of a little extra time and yes some things do feel a bit off in movie format as opposed to OVA format, but the core of Thunderbolt remains untouched.
A lot of people take issue with these characters being “one dimensional” and I’m gonna have to dispel that. Like with Cowboy Bebop, while the characters seem like 1D stereotypes of characters on the surface (since yes, there are people who believe Bebop’s characters are flat and one-dimensional), thanks to implications andtheruch way in which they are fleshed out, they are much more real than one would initially give them credit for. Io comes off as a bloodthirsty jerk, but he is so much more. After losing his father, he constantly reminds himself of himvia his dad’s favorite song. He fights not because he wants to, but because he has to, so he brings his mucus along that way he can get in the mood to fight without letting reality tranquility lose his morale, and he does still care about people, like his girlfriend who he doesn’t has the best of relationships with thanks to this war. Speaking of, Captain Claudia Oeer is really unfit for her position, only being placed there on account of rank and the captain slot being forcibly open. The stress of the war makes her relationship with Io very hard, and she even turns to drugs to solve her problems, as then her fate is sealed when one of her more prideful subordinates shoots her for daring to suggest that she and her men should flee on account of being outmatched. She’s the most tragic character here for that reason. Cornelius is just the friend of the trio who understands them and provides a bit of insight into the other two characters for us via implication, as well as help be part of the funny running gag of giving Io tissues.
Daryl is pretty tragic too, losing one of his limbs early on, he still dreams of what could’ve been. Even his lover, Karla, can’t stand what the loss of limbs is doing to him and his allies. Even still, he loses another one, and this all drives him to ask her to amputate all of his remaining limbs so that he can pilot the new Psycho Zaku in order to combat Io, who has killed most of his cohorts. As Io commented in the final episode, even though he hates what this war has done to him, he has driven himself a bit mad by it, making such a hasty and life-changing decision; he’s right about what this has done to Daryl. Karla isn’t very happy about being forced to be here herself, as she hates what she has to do to Daryl and the other Zeon troops, as well as the fact that she’s part of this war. I really like the romance flashback in episode 4, as it really sells how much she and Daryl love each other, without needing words to do so.
None of the other guys are really worth mentioning, but the named cast is pretty good and much richer than people give credit for. To those who say “What about the SEED, Destiny, and 00 Second Season cast? Many of them suffered through war but you criticized them.” The thing is, those characters didn’t necessarily suffer through war, they suffered through the stupidity of the war’s combatants as well as themselves; they were idiots and assholes (in some cases, both, like Shinn from SEED Destiny) who let the war make them worse. Those are not good characters. That’s the difference between them and the Thunderbolt characters; these guys suffer like soldiers who actually feel like real, at least somewhat intelligent people, those other ones just don’t.
This is easily the best looking Gundam anime to date, without question (unless I end up seeing Unicorn, and even then, that’s debatable), with only the second season of Thunderbolt giving it a run for its money as of now. The sheer detail put into every single frame is astounding, and the digital effects of the lasers and explosions are simply breathtaking. The action looks freakin’ amazing due to this, and the Gundams receive the perfect amount of detail, and this series rivals anime put in cinemas. The directing is wonderful in terms of the animation. The character designs also seem pretty realistic, stylistic lines not withstanding. My only gripe, fnyoh can call it that, is that the Doms and other Federation mobile suits have a more child-like shading that somewhat clashes with the gritty and detailed setting and other mobile suits, as that there is some minor CGI with some of the space debris (though they’re “blink and you’ll miss it”). Other than that, Thunderbolt looks beautiful, and it’s easily one of the best-looking anime of the decade.
The OST, done by Naruyoshi Kikuchi, is great,and makes a wonderful fit for this space battlefield in which the anime takes place in. Thunderbolt for Main Theme is a great score for whenever Io steps out into battle with the Full Armor Gundam, with its wonderful free jazz, even if it’s absent here, though despite this, the soundtrack is still amazing. The other themes are great at accomplishing the feelings their scenes intend, as if to sell them even more than the writing can. Not a huge amount of these pieces are overtly memorable, but they sell their scenes extremely well, which is still a good thing in its own right.
The dub is pretty solid as well, even if I only recognize one cast member. Some moments for some of the characters do feel week, especially in comparison to the Japanese voices, but there are an equal amount of really strong moments. The most notable performance is Johnny Yong Bosch as Daryl Lorenz, and he does do a good job and probably has the least amount of moments that feel even slightly off. Then again, he is in did he most prolific dub actors in anime, and he does do some rather emotional characters, so that’s to be expected of him. While I do prefer the Japanese voice acting on this one, the English dub cast did a pretty good job with this one.
I had a lot of fun with this anime. The slick soundtrack, the awesome battles, the striking feeling of hellishness in war, and the breathtaking visuals were all a real treat to witness, and the characters and writing were no slouch either. Sure, some moments were a bit iffy and weird, but it was truly an adrenaline rush of a series. I simply wish I would get more, and with a second season on the way, that same high seems likely to reach me again. Plus, seeing a Perfect Zeong in action is something that makes my inner fanboy come out, it’s that cool.
OVERALL: 9/10 RAW SCORE: 88/100
Interestingly, I would say that Gundam Thunderbolt is the perfect Gundam anime for newcomers, no matter which version you go for. It hits on all of the major themes of Gundam with a proper tone and decent characterization and writing, it has kickass action, and it doesn’t really require much background knowledge. Even disregarding that, both this and the original OVA are truly solid Gundam anime that deserve all of their fanfare and I’m sure that the manga is just as good. Can I say that either version of Gundam Thunderbolt is the best of the bunch? No; there are some UC Gundam anime that surpass this, such as Gundam Origin. This is just a side-story after all, and it would be weird if a side/story was superior to everything else in the franchise. Even still, this is definitely worth watching, even if you are new to Gundam. With all that said, I bid you adieu.
Thunderbolt is a story of humans utterly ensnared within cruel times, of overblown military budgets and desperation, of those once passive to the times swept into frenzied fever. The spread and escalation of war is a result of the failure of leadership at the highest levels, and Thunderbolt captures failures of leadership at a small scale. Atrocities beget atrocities, unfolding into each respective side’s umpteenth measure to snuff the other out, in a tense climax to the action with depictions of bodies upon bodies. Except unlike in SEED, both sides are treated as neither hero nor villain, but as small pawns in a deadly game of chess, the larger scale or outcome of which isn’t even depicted or known. Innocence is lost. The soul dies, and the shells of what were once men become beasts that crave only the hunt. What to the protagonists were quests to quell the nightmare of war obliterated their humanity, for now they are the nightmare.
The truth is you, the reader, too, are an insignificant subject of a societal system, the direction of which is far beyond your control. Should civility break down and give you the choice of whether to hide from the fire, or to become that which lights it, will you be the one getting torched, or are you the one holding the torch?
2: Tamayura: Sotsugyou Shashin Part 4 – Ashita
Japanese: たまゆら～卒業写真～ 第4部 朝-あした-
MAL Score: 8.11
The final movie of a four-part finale of Tamayura.
What makes Tamayura so great is how well it tells a simple story with simple characters. A heartwarming story about a group of young girls who are about to enter adulthood and how they have to overcome their own personal barriers to follow the path that they want to go down in life, Tamayura is a coming of age story. The story is beautiful and at moments brought me to the brink of tears. It’s also cheerful and light and is very relaxing to watch. Many times over the whole series I sat down and took a deep breath and just enjoyed myself. It put me at ease much like other relaxing/healing anime such as Non Non Biyori, Aria or the latest spring anime, Flying Witch.
The art much like the series is very calming. It’s clean and sincere. The scenery is very pretty and it adds that feeling of home sweet home. The original OVA was released in 2011 and the 4-part movies were released quite recently so there is a noticeable change in quality but even from the beginning the artwork does it’s job.
The original soundtrack is amazing. A beautiful composition that adds to the overall vibe of Tamayura. I’m going to mention it again but it really is one of Tamayura’s strongerquality, the sound is relaxing and warm. More notable are the various piano versions of the OP and ED that are played whenever things get emotional and it works like a charm. It gave those scenes more oomph and had a huge impact on me. Speaking of OP and ED, both OP and ED from the first season, ~hitotose~, is absolutely wonderful. The two songs, Okaerinasai and Kamisama no Itazura, have such a deep and powerful meaning to the entire premise of the anime. The two songs have become one of my favorite anime related songs and I rarely go a week without listening to them once or twice, or thrice, even learnt how to play them on the piano.
What makes a slice of life anime good or uninteresting is it’s characters. Since slice of life doesn’t usually rely on a plot to carry itself forward, the characters are the most important aspect. Tamayura is a bit different in that all the characters are driven by their goals but that is hardly a plot. The one exception would be the main character Fu Sawatari. It’s evident that she is the one character that is most connected to the premise of the story, her grief and insecurity caused by her father’s death, and she is the one that develops the most over the course of the anime. It may not be obvious because the show doesn’t directly show us her growth but by the end this movie she, along with all the other main characters, are completely different people than the ones you see in the first episode. They’re lovable, they’re adorable, you want to be their friends, you want to go on their little adventures. Even thought they’re pretty basic characters they still manage to make quite an impact.
Needless to say, my enjoyment can be measured as through the roof. I actually started watching Tamayura only a couple months ago and instantly fell in love with it. It has become my #1 anime and I will without a doubt be re-watching the entire series again some time in the near future. A grounded slice of life anime that isn’t filled with overly cute characters or uses cheap comedy is what makes Tamayura so special. The whole time when I was watching this last movie I could get get rid of the sad feeling inside of me knowing that there may not be any sequels after this. But I am okay with that because I know how much this anime meant to me if I felt that way.
I highly recommend this series to everyone.
From an ambitious 4 episode OVA in 2010 there have been 2 seasons and now this instalment of 4 Movies á ~50 Minutes. In this last part the creators say their final good bye to Tamayura and deliver something that is a rare sight nowadays: A proper ending.
Fitting to the theme of this whole third Season the character development is being tied up neatly and the characters you have grown to love are receiving their well deserved spotlight as they start their new adventures. Thanks to the build up not only in this season, but also during the whole run of the show, it feels very natural and relatable.
Tamayura shines again with a relaxing musical composition and beautiful backgrounds. The character animations aren’t very notable though, however I wouldn’t say that this hurts the experience.
All in all I have found lots of enjoyment yet again in Tamayura and am recommending anyone, who liked the previous instalments to dive into these Movies as well. The production quality has improved continually from the OVAs on and the plots have never felt rushed.
This “Healing” Anime is on par with Aria and the Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō Manga, it is a lot of fun to watch!
1: Kimi no Na wa.
English: Your Name.
MAL Score: 8.90
Mitsuha Miyamizu, a high school girl, yearns to live the life of a boy in the bustling city of Tokyo—a dream that stands in stark contrast to her present life in the countryside. Meanwhile in the city, Taki Tachibana lives a busy life as a high school student while juggling his part-time job and hopes for a future in architecture.
One day, Mitsuha awakens in a room that is not her own and suddenly finds herself living the dream life in Tokyo—but in Taki’s body! Elsewhere, Taki finds himself living Mitsuha’s life in the humble countryside. In pursuit of an answer to this strange phenomenon, they begin to search for one another.
Kimi no Na wa. revolves around Mitsuha and Taki’s actions, which begin to have a dramatic impact on each other’s lives, weaving them into a fabric held together by fate and circumstance.
I watched this film at Anime Expo 2016 Los Angeles. I’ll try to keep my review as spoiler-less as possible.
The film holds true to all the expectations of a Makoto Shinkai production, from heartfelt smiles to crying the 5th time within the last 30 minutes. His signature metaphorical use of trains, the idea of a hopeless and distant love, and beautiful scenery really dive you emotionally into the story, even for how generic and simple it may seem.
The story is fairly straightforward; It’s very easy to guess where the story will head, but that doesn’t mean to say I didn’t enjoy it. It warrants a 7 simply because I felt a lack of emotional depth from the characters. This lacking depth makes me constantly question the characters’ actions throughout the film, and because I am constantly searching for a motivation for their actions besides purely as plot devices, I am effectively removed from the immersion. However, this does not take away from my overall score which I shall highlight later.
As expected of a Makoto Shinkai film, the artwork is beautiful. The production quality is off the charts. The art in itself is enough to evoke tears, as it did for me during even the trailer. His choice of colors and use of movement and focus within the frame really help you pay attention to what you need to pay attention to, while also not skimping out and leaving out detail if your eyes do decide to stray, which I recommend you do while watching any Makoto Shinkai film for every blur, light flare, and particle floating along the screen really do add incredible amounts of emotion to the scene. My friends and I consider most Makoto Shinkai films as “5 Wallpapers per Second” and for good reason.
Granted I watched this film in an auditorium with hundreds of people, I can’t give an accurate score as of writing this review. I don’t know who did the music for the film, but during the Q&A Panel held with Shinkai, he mentioned that he messaged one of his favorite bands that he was working on a film, and wanted them to do the music, to which they said yes.
The music was done by the band RADWIMPS, a Japanese rock/alternative rock band. Some people have come to me asking whether or not this took away from the cinematic or emotional feel of the film, but in my opinion it helped in a way characterize the characters of Mitsuha and Taki. Rock music carries with it a sense of youth. Bringing that youthful feeling to the film’s soundtrack helps to establish the sense of naivety to the characters and their interactions. It really helps establish the characters as teenagers who don’t know or care about right from wrong, but rather would do what they feel in their heart is the right thing to do, which is exactly what motivates Mitsuha and Taki in their adventure.
I wouldn’t say I have much of a complaint about main characters Taki and Mitsuha. We all can relate to the high school phase of our lives, it appeals to us because stories we read or watch in books or films set on characters that are going through this remind us of our own springtime of youth. Shinkai did a good job at portraying them and their relationships. My main gripe is that I feel they weren’t explored enough to feel a strong sense of emotional attachment. Their lives, personalities, traits, habits, friends, lifestyles, etc are all explored in the first ~20 minutes, I personally felt that we only skimmed the surface of these characters and are forced to go further into the shallow end of a pool, only hoping that it gets deeper to actually swim around in this world of possibilities. I wanted to laugh, cry, and even relate more with the characters, but I felt that I only read about them in a story, or saw them in a film (which I did).
I wanted to feel they could have actually existed, but the film seems to be a bit too reliant on cliche tropes to incite certain emotions. The feeling I felt is similar to seeing characters smiling and laughing with each other, and having to individually accept that this is enough to establish their inner motivations, time spent together, individual goals, etc. I felt like it wasn’t enough, and just had to accept that Taki and Mitsuha were the way they were. It felt sometimes that their actions were baseless and lacking a strong motivation to be deserving of the emotion the characters poured into their actions. As if acting on a limb to do something as insane as climbing a mountain alone. I will admit that this can be disputed, however, as they are still children/teenagers, and we all do weird things for no reason growing up.
As little as I felt I delved into the personalities of the characters, I did enjoy the film a lot. Shinkai’s metaphorical use of trains just continuing to go along their routes that diverge in several ways really applies in this film, as much as it did in 5 Centimeters per Second. Everyone’s lives diverge in different ways, things happen in dreams and are forgotten the next day, things happen in reality and are forgotten over a lifetime. I enjoyed Taki’s and Mitsuha’s struggles throughout the film to help each other, and as much as it made me well up tears in my eyes, I enjoyed his questioning of how much our memories make up who we are.
Edit: I watched this at the World Premier in Los Angeles on July 3rd. It was released in Japanese theaters on August 26th. It is set to be streamed online (for north america) via funimation, hopefully within the next month or so.
Spectacular animation. There is one particular scene near the beginning which has a sort of “3D camera rotation” that looks so real that I thought it was rendered; but at the last second, the character turned their head, and I was able to tell that it had been entirely hand-drawn. There are scenes where basic physics are completely altered, yet they managed to make it 100% smooth, dragging me along through the character’s experience.
Characters. Due to the movie format, most of the characters had very simple personalities. The depth of the characters was sacrificed for the overarching story, ultimately leading to the main characters having deeper personalities, with the side characters left behind. Don’t be confused though. For the format, the character depth that they managed to convey was incredible. Small hints were blended into many scenes, discretely conveying the characters’ backgrounds and personalities.
Sound. The depth of the musical score was incredible, though I will need to re-watch it with my usual headphones before committing fully. There was not a single sound that felt out of place. All the characters’ voices suited their appearances, leading to a very immersive experience.
Story. The story is conceptually very simple, but a lot of depth is added as the story goes on. The show drives several important points, which can be very philosophical, without being too complicated for the average viewer to understand. Additionally, none of the story is sacrificed in order to drive these ideas, they are inseparably blended together.
Impact. During the show, I laughed, and I cried. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s a big deal. At the time of writing, only two other anime have made me cry. Also, I was at the premier, and thus out in public; I certainly wasn’t the only one. Please don’t approach this anime lightly. It’s truly an experience that you can never forget.
Timing. During the movie, there is a sequence where two characters get to know each other, which felt slightly rushed. It could have been better to have the full experience played out, or at least pieces of it, lengthening the movie as required.
World building. The depth of the story and characters took a toll on the world’s completeness, leaving some unanswered questions. Most characters didn’t have worldviews or ideas of right vs wrong, there simply wasn’t time to develop them. Also, where the world came from, and what the ending implies for the world itself, is left unanswered.
— I wrote this review immediately after leaving the premier. I will continue and edit it after I have had time to process the movie’s depth.
An absolute mess. Without spoiling it, this movie fails to get into the main plot until roughly halfway through. Before that point, it views like a teenage slice of life; nothing to be disappointed by. After the halfway mark, the plot becomes incredibly contrived with no logic, reason, or thought put into its creation. There were at least 4 separate climaxes (which is inexcusable for any movie which is not Return of the King) and an overly drawn out epilogue sequence. The main climax happens off screen, which negates the entire build up to it, because Shinkai wanted to have a reveal with little weight. There are an unacceptable amount of plotholes, mostly due to the concept of Musubi. There’s little coherence, and amateur directing/writing displayed frequently throughout. To differentiate this from his other movies, Shinkai infused supernatural elements with romance, which fails horribly at enhancing the movie and instead detracts very significantly. Even amongst the people who love this movie, there is a large percentage that find the plot messy.
It’s Makoto Shinkai. If movies were judged by aesthetics alone, this would be one of the best ones. There are no issues with the art. Scene composition is mostly great, the animation was very high quality, and the art style was beautiful. While there are not as many wallpaper opportunities as in 5cm/s, the quality of them is significantly higher. Watch this in the highest possible quality you can find. Worth watching for the art alone. The animation is what you’d expect from a high budget movie, but it’s not anything revolutionary. There are several scenes that move beautifully and feel like magic to look at. The animation quality isn’t quite up to Ghibli standards but it is nothing to scoff at.
Voice actors were quite good and played different roles effectively. The change in voice aesthetic was notable during the first half when they were body swapping. The soundtrack was unmemorable, but set the scene adequately, and it may help to broaden your horizons and expose you to new music. Sound FX and general background noise was well produced and sounded natural. The opening sequence song in particular stood out and is worth a listen, but I can’t say that for most of the soundtrack.
The mains were adolescents, which meant there was a lot of adolescent stuff going on in the first half. The characters were interesting initially, though none stood out as incredibly well written and became less and less captivating as the movie went on. The main positive about the characters was that they mostly felt natural, save for when they were clearly not meant to. Side characters were certainly more natural than the mains, and contributed well to the atmosphere of the movie. They develop plot stupidity and have no depth or drive other than the forced romance, and plot amnesia is introduced for added gratuitous drama. There is no reason for the characters to become stupid, or amnesiacs, and it detracts from the believability of the characters and the plot.
Buy this on bluray because it looks stunning. Don’t expect good characters, or a remotely good plot, but do expect to salivate at another of Shinkai’s wallpaper opportunity movies. Worth the watch for the visuals. It’s an awful movie that looks good.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Kimi no Na wa.
2. Tamayura: Sotsugyou Shashin Part 4 – Ashita
3. One Piece Film: Gold
4. Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky
5. Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito