Weathering With You Review

Weathering With You movie posterSynopsis
In Tokyo, Hodaka (Kotaro Daigo / Brandon Engman) meets Hina (Nana Mori / Ashley Boettcher), who has the ability to make the constant Tokyo rain stop for a short time. The two soon learn that Hina’s power does not come without a cost.

I, like many people I’m sure, was introduced to Makoto Shinkai with Your Name, his body-swapping romance. Your Name has become one of my favorite animated films so of course I was not going to miss Shinkai’s next film and my expectations were high. Weathering With You has a lot to live up to and will, for better or worse, be compared to Your Name. I tried to stray away from comparing the two too much but I couldn’t break from that myself, so you will find much of it here, for better or worse. With Weathering With You, Shinkai cements that he knows how to create a deep world and compelling characters.

Once again, Weathering With You shows that traditional cel animation is still alive and well. Today, many animated film studios, including Disney, have moved to computer animation. I don’t have an issue with this but there’s something about hand-drawn animations that make them special. A lot of care gets put into every frame; in every detail. There’s something there that you don’t feel with films animated with CGI. 2D animation isn’t common anymore but I’m glad there are still studios that make use of the style because I enjoy seeing the format still flourishing.

With that said, this film has a similar art style to Your Name. One major difference is the presence of rain throughout the majority of the film. This causes the film to have a more muted color palette. However, this movie is still amazingly colorful. Even with the constant gloom of the rain, or maybe because of it, nearly every frame is bursting to life with color, rivaling Your Name‘s vibrant feel. And never have I seen rain feature so prominently in an animated film and Weathering With You‘s rain effects are easily some of the best looking in animation, period. Shinkai and his team have created yet another downright gorgeous animated film.

As of writing this review, I haven’t seen any of Shinkai’s work prior to Your Name. But from what I’ve read about them, star-crossed lovers seems to be his shtick. As a result of his comfort zone, the story of Weathering With You might feel similar to Your Name. And in a way they are similar. Thematically, and even at times structurally, this film borrows from its predecessor. However, they approach the love story from different angles. Your Name tells a story about how love overcomes distance and time. Weathering With You, on the other hand, tells a story about the lengths someone is willing to go for the ones they love, regardless of the consequences. It’s a story that has been told time and time again but the consequences are much more far reaching and permanent than I think I’ve seen before in any film, animated or otherwise. In the end, it maintains a feeling of uniqueness, despite its similarities to Shinkai’s previous works.

I’m sorry but the comparisons to Your Name are not finished yet. Despite my love for Your Name, there is one aspect I think this movie did better than Shinkai’s last: the humor. Your Name used its body-swapping premise for some pretty good laughs. However, the humor in Weathering With You feels more natural. Throughout the film, there are more laugh-out-loud moments. While Your Name tells an overall better story, Weathering With You tells a funnier one.

I thought Weathering With You was GOOD πŸ™‚ Shinkai has yet again created compelling characters within a detailed world, telling a beautiful story about love and the lengths one is willing to go for it. I still lean towards Your Name as my favorite between these two films but as a follow-up to the massive success that was Your Name, Weathering With You is a worthy successor.

Be on the look out for Your Name‘s Taki and Mitsuha, who both make appearances in the film. According to director Makoto Shinkai, Weathering With You takes place shortly before Taki and Mitsuha’s reunion at the end of Your Name.


Cast & Crew
Makoto Shinkai – Director / Writer
Radwimps – Composer

Kotaro Daigo / Brandon Engman – Hodaka Morishima (voice)
Nana Mori / Ashley Boettcher – Hina Amano (voice)
Shun Oguri / Lee Pace – Keisuke Suga (voice)
Tsubasa Honda / Alison Brie – Natsumi Suga (voice)
Sakura Kiryu / Emeka Guindo – Nagisa Amano (voice)
Swi Hiraizumi / Mike Pollock – Yasui (voice)
Yuki Kaji / Riz Ahmed – Takai (voice)

The submission period for the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is going on now and is open until February 9th, 2020. If you would like to participate in the blogathon, all the details can be found in this announcement post.

Promare Review

Promare movie posterSynopsis
30 years ago, people across the world began combusting. In the aftermath, those who could control the fires were called Burnish. In present day, Galo Thymos (Kenishi Matsuyama / Bill Kametz) the newest firefighter of Burning Rescue, works to stop the Burnish and protect the people of Promepolis from fires.

Promare is the first animated feature from Studio Trigger, the Japanese animation studio whose animators and creators are behind such animes as Gurren Lagenn, Kill la Kill, and Little Witch Academia. While I haven’t seen most of their work, my friends I saw this movie with have and noted influences from and similarities to several of Studio Trigger’s previous works. For me, who is not as familiar, it was a new experience, but one I greatly enjoyed. As an animation fan, whenever I see a film that has a unique animation style, that’s a win in my book. The animation style of Promare is unlike anything I have seen before. It is vibrant, which in and of itself is not unique, but the way it uses the colors to accentuate the action is. It appears flat but is dynamic at the same time, particularly the way it portrays fire, smoke, and water. Lately it has felt like each new animated film I’ve seen has found its own design, allowing it to stand apart from other animated films.

This anime is very much an action film and it was edited like one. Tight camera angles and quick cut-aways, some of my action movie pet peeves, make the action difficult to follow at times, which was irritating because the action is extremely over-the-top but so exciting and it would have better to have seen it in all its glory. Knowing the history of the type of material this studio puts out, it’s no surprise that the best way to describe the action of this movie is β€œballs to the wall.” The first scene is a giant action set piece, then it slows down slightly for some exposition (not a lot of exposition but just enough to give you a hint of world building), followed by what feels like an hour long fight scene. Seriously, once it hits about the halfway mark, it never lets up.

I thought Promare was GOOD πŸ™‚ Once it puts its foot on the gas, it never takes it off. At times it can feel like a bit much but the ridiculousness of it all makes it humorous and entertaining. Studio Trigger has show that they can successfully translate what makes their different anime series popular onto the big screen.


Cast & Crew
Hiroyuki Imaishi – Director
Kazuki Nakashima – Writer
Hiroyuki Sawano – Composer

Kenishi Matsuyama / Bill Kametz – Galo Thymos (voice)
Taichi Saotome / Johnny Yong Bosch – Lio Fotia (voice)
Masato Sakai / Crispin Freeman – Kray Foresight (voice)
Ayane Sakura / Alyson Leigh Rosenfield – Aina Ardebit (voice)
Hiroyuki Yoshino / Billy Bob Thompson – Remi Puguna (voice)
Tetsu Inada / John Eric Bently – Varys Truss (voice)
Mayumi Shintani / Kari Wahigren – Lucia Fex (voice)
Rikiya Koyama / Steve Blum – Ignis Ex (voice)
Kendo Kobayashi / Michael Sinternikiaas – Vinny (voice)
Ami Koshimizu / Erica Lindbeck – Heris Ardebit (voice)
Taiten Kusunoki / Neil Kaplan – Vulcan Haestus
Nobuyuki Hiyama / Mathew Mercer – Gueira (voice)
Katsuyuki Konishi / Yuri Lowenthal – Meis (voice)
Arata Furuta / Mike Pollock – Deus Prometh (voice)
Ryoka Yuzuki / Melissa Fahn – Biar Colossus (voice)

King of Thorn Review

This movie was recommend by SG from Ryme and Reason as part of my Anniversary Celebration 5.

King of Thorn movie posterSynopsis
When the Medusa Virus, a mysterious and incurable virus, threatens Earth’s population, a select group of people are chosen to enter cryostasis. When the group wakes up, they find the facility has been overrun by large, thorny vines and dangerous creatures.

Have you ever watched a movie where it wasn’t perfect but you were still thinking it was alright and you could at least still get into it. Then, all of a sudden, at the end it turns into crazy town? That’s how I felt about King of Thorn. First off, the 2D animation looked good. However, during the action scenes, the style switched to a 3D, cell-shaded style of animation that did not look good, nor did it match the 2D style well. Switching between the two styles was jarring and often distracting. Throughout most of the movie, the mystery about what happened to the world around the main characters was intriguing. Most of the characters had some sort of depth to them; They weren’t developed a lot but enough to at least be interesting. Then the ending came and I didn’t know what to think. It reminded me of the final couple episodes of the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion where the reveal and payoff for the mystery built and developed until that point feels really bizarre. When the movie ended, I was just sitting there, thinking ‘What just happened?’

I thought King of Thorn was OK 😐 Awkward animation styles switching aside, the film brings you into the story with characters that are decently developed, or at least developed enough that you want to see where their story goes. However, the final reveal does not feel like a good payoff for that development and the movie’s story.


Cast & Crew
Kazuyoshi Katayama – Director / Screenplay
Hiroshi Yamaguchi – Screenplay
Akiko Yajima – Writer
Toshihiko Sahashi – Composer

Kana Hanazawa / Brina Palencia – Kasumi Ishiki (voice)
Toshiyuiki Morikawa / Patrick Seitz – Marco (voice)
Sayaka Ohara / Stephanie Young – Katherine Turner (voice)
Shin’ichiro Miki / Christopher Bevins – Peter (voice)
Akiko Yajima / Luci Christian – Tim (voice)
Kosei Hirota / R. Bruce Elliott – Alexandro Pecchino (voice)
Kenji Nomura / Bob Carter – Ron Portman (voice)
Misaki Kuno / Monica Rial – Alice Roznovski (voice)
Eri Sendai / Alexis Tipton – Shizuku Ishiki (voice)
Yoshinori Fujita / Todd Haberkorn – Walter (voice)
Tsutomu Isobe / John Swasey – Ivan Coral Vega (voice)

Your Name Review

Your Name movie posterSynopsis
Taki (RyΓ»nosuke Kamiki (voice)) and Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi (voice)) find themselves mysteriously switching bodies at random. Eventually, they create a system to communicate with each other and be a part of each other’s lives. When they go in search of each other, they discover that they are separated by more than distance.

I wasn’t expecting to go see Your Name during its limited US theatrical release but one of my best friends, and frequent movie buddy, had an extra ticket and asked if I wanted to go. To be honest, I didn’t even know it was going to be in theaters until he invited me along, nor was I familiar with Makoto Shinkai and his work. I’m really glad I had the chance to go watch Your Name in the theater because this has quickly become one of my favorite animes.

The first thing you’re sure to notice is the beautiful animation. And I mean absolutely stunning and breathtakingly beautiful. Traditional 2D animation seems to be becoming less and less popular these days. However, films like Your Name show that there is still life in the medium. Every frame is drop-dead gorgeous and you can feel the commitment and love that went into making this movie look the way it does.

For some films, it can be difficult to balance drama with a sense of humor. Director and writer Makoto Shinkai makes it look easy. One pitfall of films that try to incorporate both drama and humor is that it becomes overly serious and the shift between the two can be jarring. It will be light and funny one moment then dark and sobering the next. Your Name, first and foremost, is a love story about Taki and Mitsuha but it never becomes melodramatic. Humor fits into the story without taking away from the core lover’s tale, nor does it feel forced or out of place.

What I really liked about Your Name‘s story was that as the audience, we don’t learn the full scope of the story until about halfway through the film. Bits and pieces are learned about Taki and Mitsuha and their interwoven fates but why it is difficult for them to meet up is not learned for some time into the movie. I think this works so well because it leaves some mystery about the two main characters despite learning so much about them through watching them interact with each other’s friends and family. I won’t give the why away but I will say that once you learn it, you will root that much more that they will find some way to connect with each other.

More than the animation, Your Name‘s biggest strength is its characters. As I said, for the first half of the film, a lot is learned about Taki and Mitsuha just by watching them inhabit each other’s bodies. The further in the movie went, the more I cared about them and wanted to see them get their happy ending. Like any love story, there are wrinkles but those difficulties just added to my fondness for the two. I can’t recall the last romantic movie, either animated or live action, that made me feel so strongly towards its lead couple.

I thought Your Name was GREAT πŸ˜€ From the get-go, it will grab your attention with its beautiful animation and lightheartedness. But as the story progresses, it will tug at year heartstrings with its intricate and alluring narrative. Makoto Shinkai has truely outdone himself and I will be sure to look out for his films in the future.

Taki’s school teacher is the same character from Makoto Shinkai’s film The Garden of Words named Yukari Yukino.


Cast & Crew
Makoto Shinkai – Director / Writer
Composer – Radwimps

Taki Tachibana – RyΓ»nosuke Kamiki (voice)
Mitsuha Miyamizu – Mone Kamishiraishi (voice)
Katsuhiko Teshigawara – RyΓ΄ Narita (voice)
Sayaka Natori – Aoi Yuki (voice)
Tsukasa Fujii – Nobunaga Shimazaki (voice)
Shinta Takagi – Kaito Ishikawa (voice)
Yotsuha Miyamizu – Kanon Tani (voice)
Toshiki Miyamizu – Masaki Terasoma (voice)
Futaha Miyamizu – Sayaka Ohara (voice)
Taki’s Father – Kazuhiko Inoue (voice)
Teshigawara’s Father – ChafΓ»rin (voice)
Teacher – Kana Hanazawa (voice)

Summer Wars Review

Summer Wars movie posterSynopsis
Kenji Koiso (Ryunosuke Kamiki/Michael Sinterniklaas) is a math genius and part-time moderator for Oz, a virtual reality world that contains the personal information of everyone in the world. He is invited by his friend Natsuki Shinohara (Nanami Sakuraba/Brina Palencia) to attend her great-grandma’s (Sumiko Fuji/Pam Dougherty) 90th birthday celebration. One night, Kenji receives an email with a mathematical code that he easily cracks. The following day he learns that by solving the code, he inadvertently helped crack Oz’s security, giving a rogue artificial intelligence access to every major system on Earth.

Summer Wars was recommended to me by a friend who told me it was one of his favorite anime movies. Being the anime fan that I am, I figured I’d check it out. I’m glad that I did because this movie is truly brilliant. Not only does it offer two completely different yet awesome animation styles, but a great story as well.

First of all, the animation looks fantastic. I especially like how they gave the real world and Oz’s digital world each a distinctly unique feel. The real world has relatively flat color pallet and simple line work. Oz, on the other hand, is much more colorful and vibrant. Everything is outlined in red, rather than the usual black, separating it even more. The fight scenes in Oz were the most impressive. They were explosive and given the virtual setting, allowed for some of the best scenes in the movie.

The idea of a virtual reality inside a computer that feels like its own world has been done several times over since Tron. Despite the unoriginality of the concept, the world of Oz manages to remain unique. I haven’t seen the way the characters move and interact before but it feels natural. Combine that with the bright colors and Oz is a one-of-a-kind virtual world in a movie.

Oz has become the ultimate social network. Everything in the world runs through Oz, from system administrators to law officials to the president. It’s an interesting social commentary for the way the world is moving today. You can’t go anywhere without needing be connected for one reason or another. Summer Wars takes that idea further to look at the dangers of a virtual world that contains all the information of everyone in the world.

More than the social commentary, family is at the heart of the story. Natsuki just wants to please her family, a concept I think many can relate to. Since the amount of characters is pretty large (just look at the cast list down below for an idea), the story only focuses on a handful of characters. Regardless, the Jinnochi clan still manages to feel like a real family. The little time the secondary characters are on screen, they do well to give you a feel about how the family functions and cares for each other. I can’t think of any film that can build the individual characters by fleshing out the cast as a whole the way Summer Wars does.

Summer Wars delivers on both animation and story. Two distinct animation styles make the real world and the virtual world of Oz stand out from each other. The idea of a social network that contains the personal information of everyone and all their credentials and the security risk that it poses is an intriguing and thought-provoking concept. In other words, check this movie out, I don’t think you will be disappointed.



Cast & Crew
Mamoru Hosoda – Director/Story
Satoko Okudera – Screenplay
Akihiko Matsumoto – Composer

Ryunosuke Kamiki / Michael Sinterniklaas – Kenji Koiso
Nanami Sakuraba / Brina Palencia – Natsuki Shinohara
Mitsuki Tanimura / Maxey Whitehead – Kazuma Ikezawa
Takahiro Yokokawa / Todd Haberkorn – Takashi Sakuma
Sumiko Fuji / Pam Dougherty – Sakae Jinnochi
Mieko Nobusawa / Shelley Calene-Black – Mariko Jinnochi
Takashi Kobayashi / John Burgmeier – Tasuke Jinnochi
Yoji Tanaka / Robert McCollum – Yorihiko Jinnochi
Mutsumi Sasaki / Bill Jenkins – Kazuo Shinohara
Kiyomi Tanigawa / Anastasia Munoz – Yukiko Shinohara
Hashiya Nakamura / Patrick Seitz – Kunikiko Jinnochi
Sakiko Tamagawa / Cynthia Cranz – Rika Jinnochi
Kaori Yamagata / Lydia Mackay – Naomi Miwa
Takuya Kirimoto / Chuck Huber – Ri’ichi Jinnochi
Mitsutaka Itakura / Christopher Sabat – Katsuhiko Jinnochi
Tagame Tamura / Jennifer Seman – Kiyomi Ikezawa
Eiko Kanazawa / Colleen Clinkenbeard – Noriko Jinnochi
Chigusa Takaku / Caitlin Glass – Nana Jinnochi
Yutaka Shimizu / Mike McFarland – Shota Jinnochi
Naoto Adachi / Jason Liebrecht – Ryohei Jinnochi
Riisa Naka / Monica Rial – Yumi Jinnochi
Sumire Morohoshi / Cherami Leigh – Mao Jinnochi
Yuki Imai / Alison Viktorin – Shingo Jinnochi
Rikito Ota / Brittney Karbowski – Yuhei Jinnochi
Hinano Minagawa / Tia Lynn Ballard – Kana Jinnochi
Ayumu Saito/ J. Michael Tatum – Wabisuke Jinnochi