It might be easier to figure out how good Makoto Shinkai’s anime adaptation of his own novel is, if it were easier to figure out what kind of movie it is. Initially, it plays out as a body-swap comedy a la Freaky Friday, as students Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi) and Taki (Ryûnosuke Kamiki)—her a small-town girl, him a Tokyo city boy—wake up sporadically in one another’s lives. Wackiness ensues, including getting used to different-sex bodies and their respective friends and families, with the same kind of second-act musical montage you’d expect from the live-action equivalent as Taki and Mitsuha get used to their new normal. Then the narrative abruptly takes a dark turn, and the comedy disappears into something that mixes time-travel, romance and disaster movie with sometimes confounding results. Shinkai seems to be reaching for something profound about a connection that transcends all boundaries of space and time, and crafts some lovely moments in the process. He simply takes the crazier parts of his story far too seriously for something that begins with someone incredulously squeezing his/her own boobs.
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Producer: Noritaka Kawaguchi and Genki Kawamura
Cast: Michael Sinterniklaas, Stephanie Sheh, Laura Post, Glynis Ellis, Kyle Hebert, Cassandra Morris, Ben Pronsky, Ray Chase and Catie Harvey