'Weathering With You' Is Japan's First Anime To Be Submitted For International Film Oscar Since 'Princess Mononoke'

For the first time in 22 years, Japan has selected an anime film as its best international film entry at the Oscars. Makoto Shinkai's romantic fantasy movie Weathering With You is the Japanese entry for best international feature film category at the 2020 Oscars, marking the first time since Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke in 1998 that Japan has thrown its weight behind an animated film for its foreign-language category contender.

After the global success of Shinkai's achingly gorgeous 2016 hit Your Name, the filmmaker's highly anticipated follow-up Weathering With You was basically a shoo-in for best animated feature at the Oscars. But Japan is throwing even more of its support behind the climate-change romantic fantasy by making Weathering With You the country's sole submission for best international feature film.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Japan has picked Weathering With You as its submission for the best international feature film category (renamed from best foreign-language film) for the 2020 Oscars. This suggests a remarkable confidence in the film, as each country is allowed only one submission to the category, which doesn't necessarily guarantee it a slot. But Weathering With You is doing gangbusters in Japan, recently passing $100 million (10.7 billion yen) mark at the domestic box office, the first Japanese film to do so since Shinkai's 2016 smash hit Your Name broke the box office records held by Miyazaki's Spirited Away. It should be noted too Miyazaki didn't win his much-deserved Oscar until Spirited Away won Best Animated Feature in 2003 — Mononoke never made the shortlist.

With the selection of Weathering With You as Japan's official international feature film entry, this cements Shinkai as the heir apparent to Miyazaki's daunting legacy. However, even if Shinkai manages to do what Miyazaki couldn't and earn the first nomination for an anime film in the best international film category, that doesn't mean we've found Miyazaki's replacement — their two directorial styles couldn't be more different. While Miyazaki's latest retirement (and subsequent un-retirement) left animators scrambling to fill the hole he left, Shinkai's worldwide critical and commercial success proves that anime's worldwide appeal doesn't end with him.

Weathering With You has been picked up for North American distribution by GKIDS, which will premiere the film internationally at the Toronto International Film Festival. GKIDS has set an awards qualifying run for 2019 with a theatrical release in early 2020 in both the original Japanese and a new English language version. The 92nd Academy Awards will be held February 9, 2020.

Here's the synopsis for Weathering With You:

GKIDS proudly presents the highly-anticipated new film from director Makoto Shinkai and producer Genki Kawamura, the creative team behind the critically-acclaimed, global smash hit Your Name. The summer of his high school freshman year, Hokoda runs away from his remote island home to Tokyo, and quickly finds himself pushed to his financial and personal limits. The weather is unusually gloomy and rainy every day, as if to suggest his future. He lives his days in isolation, but finally finds work as a writer for a mysterious occult magazine. Then one day, Hokoda meets Hina on a busy street corner. This bright and strong-willed girl possesses a strange and wonderful ability: the power to stop the rain and clear the sky...