AngelsArcanum’s review published on Letterboxd:
I was thinking about doing a more proper write-up for this since it has been hyped up to high heaven, even for a Shinkai product, but I just got increasingly infuriated at the halfway mark and beyond and just feel like being done with this ASAP. I was starting to groan at the midpoint twists, and about 15-20 minutes later I just stopped caring entirely and wanted it to be over with it already, so the last 25ish minutes were pretty grueling.
I thought Shinkai had made a marginal improvement in his characterization with the first half by having some semblance of human functions, their traits as observed by others purely boil down to gender tendencies, e.g. "didn't know you had a feminine side", "you are acting very masculine today", etc, doesn't really define their personalities outside of their genders, though that is still probably more than '5 Centimeters' had. Then the second half kicks in and all the plot-oriented dialogue pretty much completely takes over everything with the film's main conflict, and it's pretty dumb. I think this film and its premise epitomizes his tendencies and in turn, weaknesses - an intermittent body swap where the characters are constantly just trying to maintain the routines of the host they are in, focusing on the tasks and just showing gender-centric (at least, in Shinkai's eyes) mannerisms he tries to sell as full-on personalities. He employs unsatisfying montages again over fleshed out interplay as the plot just crawls along, nothing really sticks.
I'm just going to stop there and say that I think Shinkai needs to stop writing/directing and do visuals for someone else; his characters are still hollow, his drama is still cheap, his character emotions still being a bit overblown and not felt and his direction for act structures is still weak and his characters are still just puppets for the plot. He's just not good at storytelling, period. This is as fair as I could get with it, the stuff in the 2nd half is pretty awful, but not excruciating enough to be dragged down further, it's mostly saved by the passable first half. The praise for this (especially on anime sites) is just absurd, even for Shinkai standards, I wish it would stop *sigh*.