After having just watched Tenki no Ko in Koufu, I have decided I'll make this my first review, which I'll make spoiler free and using the categorisation format. I am currently stuck between whether I'd call this movie a 9 or a 10, so as I've only seen it once and don't want to over analyse, enjoyment comes first after all, I've put the lower to account for that hype we all feel when we first watch an anticipated release.
Story-8: The synopsis provided on the site is ample, so you can read that yourself and I'll cover my personal takes. While many
will foremost associate Shinkai with Kimi no na wa and will expect connection to it, this takes on an approach far more grounded in realism and it's the characters constant interaction and chemistry which draws people in. More like say, Kotonoha no niwa, but still very different. There's no anime movie out there the same as this, it feels fresh and individual. Without giving any spoilers, it takes the very simple concept of a girl who can make the rain disappear by praying and really makes strong use of it, with a well paced and natural progression but also realistic, yet interesting issues which arise from having this power. There were one or two slight loose ends though, and I would have liked a slightly further drawn out ending. overall very well written and interesting.
Art-10: This will have instantly gripped many people as early as the trailers to how well it was done. The character designs are simple and effective, continuing this realistic feel and there was nothing crazy. Underrated aspects even like the rain animation, or the more physical character interactions in the crumbled building with the police at the end are very well done to go with the realistic backgrounds. Of the many places in Toukyou referenced, anyone who has spent time in Shinjuku in particular will really feel a level of satisfaction watching this due to the well illustrated background references. These small details really help bring the movie to life and help create a connection with the audience. My one small complaint being the product placement early on wasn't overly discrete. In the grand scheme that's nothing though as this movie is truly visually stunning.
Sound-10: Not a lot to say other than that it really brings a lot to the movie. RADWIMPS have really brung their A game again, as they did in Kimi no na wa. While theres no chart destroying song like Zenzenzense, the soundtrack perfectly adds to the emotions specific scenes try to convey. The falling scene with Grand Escape will sending shivers down near any viewer's back, but also more subtle ones like the more electro/beat backing in the chase scene adding a greater sense of urgency. Voice acting also can't really be flawed as they really brought the characters to life, with a personal special mention to Daigo Kotarou, the voice of Hodaka. There was nothing that sounded forced or out of place, really deserves huge credit.
Characters-9: The characters are really refreshing and there is nothing stupid, over the top about them. Thankfully no annoying anime tropes. Two teenagers with their own struggles, one trying to make himself at home in a vastly new environment while the other tries to make ends meet supporting herself and her brother. To be safe incase some see it as a spoiler, the detail with Hina's age was a very good touch, anyone who's shared her struggle has been there. The interactions between the two main characters too are very refreshing and again realistic, with small details making all the difference and driving the story. I really found myself caring about the two main characters which is something I really highly value, watching the two of them get closer while their personalities compliment each other and actions perfectly reflect their ages. My one slight complaint being that while I loved watching Hodaka's relationship with Hina grow, I didn't really feel that he had personally grown outside this as much as I'd have liked by the end. The supporting characters too also all bring something to the table and are equally consistently written. Nagi, Keisuke and Natsumi really provide a likable bunch of different supporting characters, and seeing their efforts, or in Keisuke's case, conflicted effort, to support Hodaka towards the end was really beautiful. Seeing Keisuke make the necessary clutch decision really made me smile. They all bring important aspects which add to the story, while letting the main two characters shine. Finally shoutout the Taki and Mitsuha references!
Enjoyment-10: I was hyped for this movie and it payed off, I really enjoyed it. While the story was great, the character in particular really resonated with me and I left that cinema thoroughly satisfied. One scene in particular, which you'll know if you've seen the movie really gave me goosebumps, and I'm a very emotionally monotone person, so that takes a lot of doing.
Overall-9: To be precise I'd call this a 9.5 out of 10 for me. I don't believe it's perfect, but I very thoroughly enjoyed it and believe it could have been a 10 with a slightly more drawn out ending and one or two threads smoothed. To the international audience, be patient, you'll really enjoy this one. It's not Kimi no na wa, so don't go in expecting it to be. It's very different in how it carries itself, so please, judge it on it's own merit and don't go in expecting too much. A very strong showing from Shinkai as expected and I'll continue to look forward to his future projects.