weathering with you review

Makoto Shinkai is a filmmaker whose heart lies with the cosmos. The Your Name director looks at the world through a lens so expansive that sometimes humans can get lost in it — his earliest films more often than not forgot about the character and favored the awe inspired by natural phenomena: meteor showers, typhoons, the unchanging rhythm of the seasons. Like Hayao Miyazaki, who Shinkai has frequently been compared to as the anime legend’s widely regarded successor, Shinkai bows to the might of nature — though his films don’t have quite the deep political messaging as Miyazaki’s.

Shinkai’s strengths lie in his breathtaking animated tributes to the power of nature, rendered in stunning photorealistic animation, and the ripples that natural phenomena send to affect the little people on Earth. It’s why his early films would often feel cold and distant, and his characters vague outlines of people. But with the globally successful Your Name, Shinkai gained a sense of humor. He found a funny bone, a perfect compromise between his cosmic ambition and his intimate character writing. He swings even further in that lighthearted direction with Weathering With You, a whimsical supernatural romance with a pointed environmental message that is even more vibrant than his 2016 mega-hit, but doesn’t quite pack the same emotional wallop.

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Legend of the Galactic Heroes

(Welcome to Ani-time Ani-where, a regular column dedicated to helping the uninitiated understand and appreciate the world of anime.)

So far, this column has tried to maintain a balance between older, acclaimed anime, new and exciting possibilities, and hidden gems. But now it’s time to revisit one of the biggest and best anime franchises out there – no, I’m (sadly) not talking about Gundam since most of it is not legally available, but an anime that is often hailed as “the endgame of anime.” I’m referring, of course, to Legend of the Galactic Heroes

If Gundam is to Japan what Star Wars is to the US, then maybe the closest comparison to Legend of the Galactic Heroes (as noted before on this very website) is Game of Thrones, or even Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Set nearly a millennium after mankind moved away from planet Earth and colonized the galaxy, Legend of the Galactic Heroes is an adaptation of a series of novels written by Yoshiki Tanaka that chronicles the rise and fall of two interstellar states – the monarchic Galactic Empire and the democratic but bureaucratic Free Planets Alliance – and the war between them. 

Though the show mostly follows one high-ranking military commander on each side, Yang Wen-li of the Alliance, and Reinhard von Lohengramm of the Empire, it is an epic space opera that follows hundreds of characters across the galaxy in a vast and complex story that was for the longest time considered a bit of a holy grail of anime due to it not being released in the US. Thankfully, that time has passed, as you can now stream all 110 episodes of the original anime that ran from 1988 to 1997 (plus several movies and a prequel series!). But if the older animation isn’t for you, the first quarter of the story was remade starting last year with stunning animation.

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tokyo godfathers returning to theaters

While it’s a bit late to be a Christmas present, GKIDS is bringing back Satoshi Kon‘s anime classic (and all-time great Christmas movie) Tokyo Godfathers to theaters for a limited time. The Tokyo Godfathers theatrical re-release comes as the venerated anime director is soon to be rewarded a posthumous Winsor McCay Award at the upcoming 2020 Annie Awards for lifetime achievement in animation. This year also marks the 10-year anniversary of the sad passing of an animation titan.

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weathering with you clip

Weathering With You is finally making its long-awaited debut in the U.S., which means it’s getting an official English dub for those who struggle with (in the words of Bong Joon-ho) the one-inch barrier of subtitles. GKIDs has released a new Weathering With You clip that gives a preview of the English-language voice cast, which includes Lee Pace, Alison Brie, and Riz Ahmed, in action. But don’t worry, subtitle lovers: When Makoto Shinkai’s highly anticipated follow-up to his worldwide hit Your Name hits theaters later this month, both sub and dub versions will be available.

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Vinland Saga

(Welcome to Ani-time Ani-where, a regular column dedicated to helping the uninitiated understand and appreciate the world of anime.)

There are times where you only need a handful of episodes to know that the show you’re watching is truly something special, and that it will go down as one of the greats. It recently happened with Watchmen, and it also happened with Vinland SagaIn less than one season, this show established itself as one of the best shows of 2019, and if only it manages to stay as good as it is now, it may go down as one of the best anime of the modern era.

Adapted from Makoto Yukimura’s acclaimed manga series of the same name, Vinland Saga is a bloody and at times horrific story set in the early 11th century. It tells the story of a young Icelandic kid who is taken under the wing of his father’s killer and his band of mercenary Vikings. At the same time, we seem to be following several characters and factions’ rise to power, as the Danes invade England. It’s bloody, it’s emotional, and you won’t look at History’s Vikings the same way again after this. Read More »

(Welcome to Ani-time Ani-where, a regular column dedicated to helping the uninitiated understand and appreciate the world of anime.)

After exploring the dark and complex existentialism of a ‘90s anime last time, this week we’re jumping right back to the present for maybe the most anticipated anime of the summer season, which somehow still managed to be its biggest surprise. I’m talking about Dr. Stone

Yes, Dr. Stone is the highly anticipated adaptation of one of the most popular manga today, so chances of the anime being good were high. But with such high anticipations, the show still had to prove itself, and boy did it prove any naysayers wrong! It is easy to see why the manga is so popular and why its fans were so hyped before the anime premiered.

Dr. Stone takes place thousands of years after a world-wide catastrophe turned every single human into stone. Strangely, high-schooler Senku Ishigami wakes up to find that all the technology and science he so dearly loved as a kid is gone. Not only that, but there’s another human who woke up from petrification, and he’s vowed to wake up an army of young brutes and govern the stone world.

The show then deals with Senku’s attempts to restore civilization by reinventing humanity’s lost technology and find a cure for petrification in what he calls his “Kingdom of Science”. It’s a bit of a mix between The Flintstones and Bill Nye the Science Guy, seen through the lens of a superhero video game. And it is both hilarious and oddly educational.

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(Welcome to Ani-time Ani-where, a regular column dedicated to helping the uninitiated understand and appreciate the world of anime.)

For a couple of months now, I’ve shared with you some recent anime and a couple of older ones to both showcase the state of anime today and help those of you who unfamiliar with the medium to familiarize yourself with some genres and tropes. But since Halloween never ends in my house, and because being on the Internet feels like an endless horror movie, it’s time to revisit one classic anime that didn’t get the attention it deserved Stateside. A lot of people know about Cowboy Bebop and Neon Genesis Evangelion, but not nearly as many people are familiar with the tale of Serial Experiments Lain. Before some of you sharpen your pitchforks, I’m not saying that it’s a completely unknown anime, just that it wasn’t as influential or talked about.

Do you like mind-bending tales of psychological horror that will hit way too close to home in this internet-age? What about a sci-fi anime with non-linear storytelling and one of the darkest depictions of the internet and social media? Well, you’ll love Serial Experiments Lain. The show opens with a teenage girl committing suicide by jumping off a rooftop. Then we meet our protagonist, soft-spoken 14-year-old Lain Iwakura, whose life is turned upside down when she receives an e-mail from the girl who committed suicide earlier in the episode, claiming she has ascended to a new form within the “Wired” – the show’s version of the Internet. 

The show then deals with Lain entering the Wired, and experiencing some of the darkest corners of 1998 internet that look surprisingly like today’s internet. At the same time, she has horrifying realizations about her identity and reality itself. It’s a mind-twisting avant-garde, cyberpunk mystery about identity and what it means to be able to reinvent yourself in a place that isn’t technically tangible.

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weathering with you trailer

Makoto Shinkai‘s films have the ability to impart an immense sadness upon its viewers — but the greatest sadness surrounding his newest film Weathering With You is that U.S. audiences have to wait another two months to see it. GKIDS has released yet another trailer for Japan’s Oscar contender, but it’s only a cruel reminder that Shinkai’s highly anticipated follow-up to his sublime 2016 hit Your Name is not hitting U.S. theaters until January. Watch the official new Weathering With You trailer and prepare yourself to cry an ocean’s worth of tears.

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Her Blue Sky Review

If you could meet face-to-face with your past self, what would they say? Would they be proud or disappointed? Would you try to fix your past mistakes or accept that they made you who you are? Those are questions at the center of Her Blue Sky, an anime coming-of-age tale of experiencing love for the second time, losing sight of what you once dreamed of and moving on.

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Another Anime

(Welcome to Ani-time Ani-where, a regular column dedicated to helping the uninitiated understand and appreciate the world of anime.)

A couple weeks ago, I said that horror and anime often don’t mix, and that’s mostly true. In anime, horror mostly deals with gore or “torture porn” and the supernatural. The former mostly deals with characters being constantly tortured or falling to over-exaggerated deaths, while the latter mostly refers to monsters and demons with exaggerated facial features. In any case, the anime relies on exaggerating whatever method it’s using to create shock value because it wants to remind you that what you’re seeing isn’t real, so they can get away with overplaying that disconnect. 

But there are some creepy anime thrillers that can get under your skin, and a select few that could be considered true horror shows. One such show that is definitely horror is one that’s part junior-high drama, part supernatural murder-mystery with disturbing imagery, and part anime-version of the Final Destination franchise – by which I mean, you can expect some of the most bonkers, ridiculously bloody kill scenes.

That show is Another. We follow 15-year-old Koichi Sakakibara, whose mother died after childbirth and whose father is abroad on business. He’s the new transfer student in a rural junior-high school with a horrible secret. Of course, he gets assigned to the one classroom that is said to be cursed, and even though he’s well-versed in horror (Koichi is often seen reading Stephen King or John Saul), Koichi doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into. There are a lot of special rules he’s supposed to follow but doesn’t know about, and there’s a quiet and weird girl with an eyepatch whom both teachers and students seem to ignore – as if she’s either invisible or a ghost. Are there supernatural beings haunting the grounds of the school? Is there really a curse that claims the life of a student each month? Is Koichi next? 

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