Director: Makoto Shinkai.
It's been a while since I've seen something outside of Studio Ghibli, being the most recent When Marnie Was There. I'm not familiar with Makoto Shinkai's work but this certainly encourages me to watch the rest of his catalog.
I knew nothing about the film until only the day before seeing it, instantly attracted to the poster and the mini synopsis of two high school teens from opposite sides of the country, who periodically switch in their dreams.
Gladly I didn't read anymore into it and just went to watch it as there's so much more to the intriguing story at face value. It's a little confusing at times bouncing between the two characters, but that doesn't deter the enjoyment and wonderment of the film.
We follow quiet country school girl Mitsuha voiced by Mone Kamishiraishi, going about her daily chores and traditions in a village shrouded by folklore and superstition with mayor-elect pushing for advancement. All this while we also follow rough-and-ready city boy, Taki, voiced by Ryûnosuke Kamiki, who is no stranger to voice acting, starring in Spirited Away at the age of eight and later in Howl's Moving Castle.
The two become celestially bound to one another without fully understanding how, or even knowing who each other are, which leads them both on an adventure of discovery, comical annoyance and eventual romance. It's perfectly balanced between the two even with a number of interesting side characters, each adding something to the intricacies of the plot and supplying a lot of the light-hearted comedy.
The scenery and animation is stunning, vibrant and beautifully breathtaking; with blinding lens flares and gorgeous landscapes that fill the entirely screen. It's superbly paced, perfectly edited so not to make a mess of the constant jumps.
The score by the Japanese rock band, Radwimps is simply amazing, perfect for the film with a mixture of teeny pop/rock and pleasant instrumentals, with surprising tracks like "Kataware Doki" using soft pianos and strings. It's a score Final Fantasy composer, Nobuo Uematsu would be proud of.
There are some films that are not meant to be for live action, showcasing the stunning craftsmanship and elegant talent of the skilled animators and artists, this being one of those films. The actual anime capturing the magical essence of the heartfelt story that I don't believe can be replicated as good live.
Cosmically enchanting, touching and visually beautiful. Certainly the best anime I've seen this year.
Running Time: 9
The Cast: 9
Job Description: 10
The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for being such a wonderful, beautiful, romantic story, magical in every sense.