This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Jack’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I hated anime. And a good romance movie has always been a hard sell for me. Then this movie had to come along and completely ruin this terribly flawed perception I had.
This is without a doubt one of the most stunningly beautiful pieces of animation put to screen. The background art is as breathtaking as it is photo realistic. Art alone is perhaps the biggest sell of this movie, though not to short cut it's admittedly confusing yet beautiful and emotionally saturated plot.
The movie starts with a slice of life intro with the female protagonist, Mitsuha. There is a beautiful hard-cut from Taki in Mitsuha's body to Mitsuha the next day, allowing for some mystery to build around even the simplest of plot points in the movie. The audience has yet to figure out the body-swapping dilemma of the two main characters, and red-herring explanations of parallel dimensions or pure stress from Mitsuha's friends further helps throw off the audience of what is really going on.
Character growth and development is handled rather uniquely through this movie. Taki is the active protagonist in that he initiates the plot and most of the events that transcribe, while Mitsuha is the recipient and gets more development and exposition, particularly at the beginning of the movie before the changes begin. They each represent what would essentially be half of a character in a normal movie, but this is not a normal movie.
The plot for this movie does not follow a normal structure by any reasonable means. It is admittedly messy, changing genres at least three times throughout its duration; jumping from a comedy-body-swap movie, to a depressing mystery, to an adventurous save-the-town plot. Yet despite these sudden changes, I think the movie does a very good job at gradually switching from one story to another. It helps that most of these instances are camouflaged behind emotional moments of whiplash that will completely re-contextualize the movie as you watch it. Specifically being; Taki discovering that Mitsuha is dead and has been dead for three years, and the moment where the two finally meet each other for the first time on the mountain.
It was at this mountain scene that I realized that this movie was really something I've never seen before. Whether it was because it was really the first Anime I had ever seen, or if the movie really just was "all that". But I cannot help but gush about it a little. The emotions, the visuals, the downright weirdly unique plot that cannot be found in any American animated film. It's just something magical, and it resonated with me in a way which few other movies have managed to accomplish.
"Nothing more, nothing less, than a beautiful view."
Final thoughts: The running joke of the boob grope has such a good pay-off.