Weathering With You – Blu-ray Review
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Film Title: Weathering With You (2019)
Release Date: 2020
Runtime: 112 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Distributor: Shout! Factory / GKIDS
Audio Format: Japanese & English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Aspect Ratio(s): 1.78:1
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray
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Blu-ray Release Date: 9/15/20
Director: Makoto Shinkai
English Voice Cast: Brandon Engman, Ashley Boettcher, Lee Pace, Mike Pollock, Riz Ahmed
Japanese Voice Cast: Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, Shun Oguri, Sei Hiraizumi, Yûki Kaji
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Full Blu-ray Tech Specs at bottom
“Weathering With You” was a 2019 Anime, Japanese animated film written & directed by Makoto Shinkai. Makoto Shinkai is best known for also writing & directing Japanese animated films (Anime) such as “5 Centimeters Per Second” (2007), “Children Who Chase Lost Voices” (2011), “The Garden of Words” (2014), and “Your Name.” (2016). Shinkai also co-directed and co-wrote another popular Japanese animated film “The Place Promised in Our Early Days” (2004). The film was entirely sketched out as storyboards by the film’s director. He even went as far as to record his placeholder voice dialogue for the storyboards. Later other artists came in and the film was hand-drawn as well as features some slight blend of computer animation. The film has its share of musical numbers along the way, but not like a musical, as they are instead montages and reoccurring musical themes that help further along tell the story. This music was composed by the Japanese musical group RADWIMPS.
The story of “Weathering With You” concerns a protagonist named “Hodaka” who is a 16-year-old boy that just ran away from his home, on a small Japanese island, to go live in the big city of Tokyo. On his journey to Tokyo, Hodaka is riding on a large boat. All of the sudden a massive, yet somehow beautiful rainstorm occurs and then just suddenly stops. In the excitement of all of that, he manages to go for a bit of a tumble and is helped by an older gentleman named “Keisuke Suga” who seems to be in his 30s or 40s. The man thanks Hodaka for giving him the opportunity to save someone’s life, and as they are exiting the boat he offers him his business card and tells him to come by if he ever needs help. Hodaka laughs at first at the idea of needing help from this “K&A Planning” CEO. Yet, he holds onto the card.
Hodaka will go through a real experience here in the first bit of the film, living homeless on the streets of Tokyo. He will meet a series of friends along the way that help him in many ways, one of which is a tiny stray cat he names “Rain” (appropriately enough). It seems that it’s always raining in Tokyo, and there’s always one strong desire for good weather and sunshine. In Japanese culture, they have some myths and one is that of something referred to as a “sunshine doll” or “sunshine girl” — as you’ll later hear a bit about in the film. The dolls, technically called “teru teru bōzu“ are these cute little things that almost look like what we here in America think of as Halloween ghosts in a sheet — as seen here in a screenshot. There’s also the belief of praying at a shrine below a Torii Gate, as seen below in a screenshot. It’s slightly important to understand that part of the culture there. I know I’ve probably gotten some things wrong, as I’m only learning about it from this film, but I’ve tried my best to briefly describe that to you to help you better grasp what this film is about, and using as a vessel to use folklore (myth) and then real Japanese beliefs to tell a story.
So, back to Hodaka and his story of coming to Tokyo. Eventually, he starts to think of ways to make money and tries his best to get by and really seems to enjoy the experience of the big city, regardless of how things are going for him. He is sitting at a McDonald’s one day, just having a drink, all that he could afford, and he falls asleep at the table. All of a sudden he’s woken up by an act of kindness from a beautiful girl his age, working at a fast-food restaurant. She gives him a Big Mac, and he’s a bit too proud to accept it but she reminds him it’ll be better than just a drink. This girl, “Hina” is a very key character to this story and she has her own unique past herself, as you’ll learn of, much like Hodaka’s. The paths of these two will cross once again, rest assured, as they seem almost destined to meet.
Meanwhile, Hodaka has grown tired of living homeless and needs to make some money so he goes to the K&A Planning place that the man named Keisuke Suga gave him and promised help if he needed it. He arrives and doesn’t seem to be able to find Mr. Suga but does however manage to find a slightly older female sleeping on the couch. This woman, “Natsumi” is working with Mr. Suga there at his little publication. He ends up landing a job there, working doing odd jobs, and even writing stories about myths and folklore in Japanese culture. As mentioned, one of those is the idea of a “sunshine girl” who can make the rain go away. As silly as this idea sounds to Hodaka, he’s forced to tag along with Natsumi when she consults someone. Let’s just say that maybe this idea isn’t so far-fetched as Hodaka might have thought it was. He will, as I said, cross paths once again with the girl Amano Hina and the two will really start to connect. That’s really the most I can tell you without dishing out any “spoilers” here, as I feel I might have already said too much.
This is an excellent film, with a very unique, emotionally moving story, with some truly amazing visual style of animation, and excellent music to help make things all come together. “Weathering With You” has been a great form of escapism for me, after watching it now numerous times. The film did great at the box office during its 2019 theatrical run, grossing 193 million worldwide — according to Box Office Mojo. That’s pretty impressive, and many thanks go to the company TOHO for their excellent promotion of it in Japan. The movie itself reportedly only had a budget of 11 million, so a return of over 193 million in worldwide ticket sales turned out to be a great investment. It also has received some excellent reviews from the critics. In fact, this movie is “Certified Fresh” over at Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing this with a 91% rating on the Tomatometer and a 96% audience rating. Not too shabby.
Movie Rating: 5 (out of 5)
“Weathering With You” on its North American Blu-ray Disc debut, from Shout! Factory, is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. IMDb shows that this film was rendered at 1080p resolution and then it received a 2K DI (digital intermediate) master. The movie itself was made digitally in hand-drawn animation over the course of a three year time period. Some blend of computer animation was used as well on a few select scenes in the film.
Next, let me get technical, for a bit, in regards to the Blu-ray Disc itself here. This release is using a BD-50 (50 gigabytes) disc, 39.5 gigabytes total, and 31.4 gigabytes for the film itself.
This is almost otherworldly at times and simply left me with a jaw-dropping reaction on numerous occasions throughout the viewing experience on Blu-ray. However, I’ll state upfront: I felt the standard HD Blu-ray in comparison to the 4K UHD Blu-ray (found on the “Limited Collector’s Edition” set) was like an entirely different experience than that I found here on the Blu-ray release — and I mean no offense to the limitations of that format. It’s just worth noting to the folks out there that have 4K playback capabilities and are willing to pay that much for that set. I have to say the picture quality it offers is superior to this, but this is still absolutely beautiful and pushes the Blu-ray format to its limits.
Photorealism, and at times hyper photorealism, can play a large part in how the visual style of this animation works with backgrounds that almost seem lifelike. The colors can go from being subdued or just dull from the rain to being downright vibrant. This type of thing fits the theme of the story here visually so well and only further along does it help tell the story, visually. The outlines are sharp here and the black level is as solid as SDR (standard dynamic range) on Blu-ray will allow for. There are no signs of compression being an issue, such as artifacts or pixelation here in the HD presentation.
This film is a fine piece of artwork, as you might hear me say on a few occasions in this review. It’s simply breathtaking to behold all of the detail here in the most realistic backgrounds that I have ever seen in an animated film. So much attention has been painstakingly paid to every little part of this film and it shows that it took roughly 3 years to make. The level of complexity here is just astounding. This holds one of the truly finest reference level visual presentations for an animated film, especially of the Anime genre, that I’ve seen. That said, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that this earns itself every bit of a perfect 5 rating for video quality. This is a film you just truly have to see to understand how amazingly unique it truly is.
Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Audio on the Blu-ray Disc release of “Weathering With You” comes in the form of the original Japanese and English (dubbed) languages with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround mixes, for each, including a DTS 5.1 core for those not capable of fully decoding the lossless surround sound mixes. Subtitles are optional here in English, Spanish, and French languages.
From the opening of the film, it may seem pretty silent, with no overwhelming roar of bass during the TOHO logo and all. Rest assured that’s on purpose, and be patient, as you’ll soon get to hear a nice amount of LFE representation via the subwoofer and a very impressive amount of rear channel use for the sounds of thunder, rain, and more, all just in the opening few scenes. The film’s dialogue, be it in the original Japanese or in the English dubbed version, is delivered delightfully in a spot-on manner through primarily the center channel speaker (in this 5.1 mix). There are a few occasions where you’ll actually hear dialogue from the rear channels but it’s in a very fitting way. I found there to be no need at all for any volume adjustment here for the dialogue.
There are some really more impressive moments as the film progresses along but I can’t talk too much about them without perhaps dishing out some spoilers of sorts. This has some real oomph to it all through, with a hefty amount of bass that you’ll feel and hear. The music sounds great all throughout and sets the mood in an amazing way. I love how it can go from complete silence to more intensity at the drop of a hat (so-to-speak). The sound of rain is one that you’ll feel left with here as well as the loud thunder. This has a very impressive set of Japanese and English lossless 5.1 surround sound mixes for an animated film that manages to do the film justice in both its language mixes. The music here that was composed by RADWIMPS adds so much to this film, and even if the lyrics are being sung in Japanese they manage to move you regardless. The soundtrack to this film itself is full of amazing music that will likely be stuck in your head after watching the film. The 5.1 mixes here also manage to do the film’s original music justice.
This all being said, there’s nothing at all to complain about here with either of the sound mixes for this film, In fact, they sound spectacular, and for an animated film manage to be very effective. Perhaps this could have benefitted from an object-based sound mix but for now, the 5.1 surround sound configuration works just fine. So fine that I’m happy to report this earns itself a perfect 5 rating for audio quality.
Audio Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release, are presented in HD video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- A DVD of the film is included. This features Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and some of the extras on the Blu-ray, listed below.
The bonus materials that are on the Blu-ray Disc include:
- “Interview with Director Makoto Shinkai” (11:14 – HD) is in Japanese and features English subtitles. This interview seems to have specifically been produced for American audiences, as Makoto mentions that he hopes that U.S. audiences love it. There’s a lot of footage here from his previous films as well as some footage from Q&A panels and such. This is really in-depth and a pleasure to see presented for American audiences. Shinkai is definitely on very talented animation filmmaker and one to keep an eye on, as well as look back at his previous films after you watch this film. One of the coolest things about this interview is how he discusses how the film progressed from the original storyboards to the final product we see. It’s also very cool to hear about the legend of “Sunshine Girls” in Japanese culture. Torii Gates are common in Japanese culture, as he mentions during a Q&A panel. There’s a discussion of his collaboration with the musicians RADWIMPS as well, on yet another film, having worked with them previously on his film Your Name. Speaking of that film, there’s a fun bit about the cameos from that film and an explanation. Lastly, he talks a little about his obvious inspirations from Studio Ghibli.
- “Exploring Makoto Shinkai’s Filmography” (13:00 – HD) is pretty self-explanatory and takes a look back on the director’s previous films. There are some excellent descriptions of each film before you’re given a trailer (preview) from each. You’ll definitely want to hit pause though, as those descriptions are only up for a very short time and nowhere near long enough for you to read everything. There’s no denying that Shinkai is a very talented animation director and his works all look extremely beautiful. It’s fun to see the animation complexity start to come as things progress along through his filmography.
- “Weather Front Featurette” (24:08 – HD) starts out showing us the outside of the TOHO screen & stage building where a Godzilla statue stands. This was from July of 2019, it says, and we first get interviews with the two primarily voice actors Kotaro Daigo and Nana Moro. Nana Moro is given a GoPro camera and the task of making a video about her experience working on the film and the reception from audiences once it hit theaters. There’s also a chat with the musical group RADWIMPS and the film’s director Makoto Shinkai. During that chat, they’ll answer some questions submitted by fans. You’ll later get to see the filmgoers lined up in Japan to see showings of the film at TOHO cinemas in various Japanese locations as well as get to hear some audience reactions after seeing the film. There’s even some footage of the voice actors in the recording studio doing the dubbing back in 2018 included. You’ll have to forgive me for this being a bit all over the place, but it kind of is itself, and that’s cool. This is a fun featurette and fans will certainly find it to be an enjoyable watch. It’s fun to see what cinemas are like over in Japan, for one, for someone like myself in America who has never seen this type of in-depth look at them. The difference in culture is something that will take English speaking audiences a little bit of getting used to if this is their first time really getting into Anime’s extras. The fact you’ll see both Japanese and English up constantly is a bit distracting, in all due honesty but it, as mentioned, is something you eventually do get used to and can fully enjoy.
- “Talk Show: Makoto Shinkai and Yumiko Udo” (1:10:10 – HD) has the film’s director on a TV show with a Japanese journalist (Udo). Here, you get to see over an hour of behind-the-scenes production on this film, from the show itself. This is more of a journalistic approach than it is about late-night talk shows here in America. Don’t be confused by the talk show part. This is very lengthy and something that fans of both the film and the director will thoroughly enjoy. There are tons of glimpses at the animators working on this film all throughout this. It’s really cool that you get to see this and it offers so much more to enjoy after you’ve finished the film and wonder what all went into making it. This really plays out more like an extremely in-depth making-of than it does as talk show does, at least here in America. The culture in Japan is so much different and that’s something really neat to learn about. My absolute favorite thing about this is when the director shows some of his favorite scenes in the film and how beautiful the effects are for rain falling on the street, for example. It truly is remarkable how breathtaking this animation style is. Even he admits that it was the artist ever so as much responsible for that one scene, a scene that only gets shown for a very, very short bit of time. There’s a huge appreciation here for every little detail throughout and that’s just astounding itself. Watching him use his laptop to show the journalist the final film versions in comparison to the original storyboard sketches is pretty remarkable stuff as well. I feel like I’m raving on and on here and I’ll cut this short. You definitely need to see this after you’ve watched the film, folks. There’s so much more here than I ever could fully cover nor would I want to spoil it for you. I’ve never seen a filmmaker this open to letting a journalist allow them to follow them as they are working on a film and then afterward as well. This is just remarkable.
- Trailers & TV Spots (10:35 – HD) play as one and include titles for each piece of material. This comes in Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 sound with English subtitles and text. These include the following: U.S. Trailer, U.S. Teaser #1, U.S. Teaser #2, U.S. Teaser #3, English Dub Trailer, English Dub Teaser #1, English Dub Teaser #2, English Dub Teaser #3, International Trailer, Japanese TV Spot #1, Japanese TV Spot #2, Japanese TV Spot #3, Japanese TV Spot #4, Japanese TV Spot #5, Japanese TV Spot #6, Japanese TV Spot #7, Japanese TV Spot #8, Japanese TV Spot #9, Japanese TV Spot #10, Japanese TV Spot #11, Japanese TV Spot #12, Japanese TV Spot #13, Japanese TV Spot #14, Japanese TV Spot #15, Japanese TV Spot #16, Japanese TV Spot #17, Japanese TV #18, Japanese TV Spot #19, Japanese IMAX TV Spot (featuring voice actors Kotaro Daigo & Nana Moro). These are actually worth watching and I’m usually not someone to suggest watching trailers or TV spots, but this shows you a lot of the differences in U.S. and Japanese culture and tells you about how this received an IMAX release over in Japan, as well as brags about how well it did there.
Overall the bonus materials here are very nice. You get roughly almost two hours of extras here, not counting the almost 11 minutes of Trailers & TV Spots. There’s certainly enough here to leave the fans of the film pleased, but if you’re looking for more in terms of extras it is certainly worth noting that there is a “Limited Collector’s Edition” 4-Disc set with an exclusive 4K UHD Blu-ray disc, a feature-length documentary, and physical extras. That version is reviewed elsewhere on the site and should be considered. Lastly, below you can find a few clips from some extras that you’ll find on the Blu-ray release.
Bonus Materials Rating: 4 (out of 5)
“Weathering With You” is one of the most fun animated films that I’ve seen in a long time. The film’s director, Makoto Shinkai, put so much painstaking effort into this three-year labor of love. His art team did an incredible job of making his original storyboard vision come to life with amazing hand-drawn animation and absolute photorealism in the backgrounds. This is fine artwork the likes of what you should find hanging in a gallery in almost every scene throughout the film. It’s just remarkable.
Now, the voice acting here for the original Japanese film offers up some slight differences aside from the obvious different cast. In comparison, the voice acting here for the English dub of the film also offers up its own share of differences, again aside from the obvious different cast. There are some names that have been altered and even lines of dialogue at times that they’ve changed in the English version. The voice acting here in both versions is superb, in my opinion. I found the English dub to actually be to my liking, and that’s rare as I’m often a purist when it comes to foreign language films. However, this English voice cast really works and is filled with some familiar voices.
Okay, this has to be said upfront, as a reviewer. I think this makes for the first Anime film that I’ve reviewed in like a decade? Back in the early days of Blu-ray, I reviewed a few but I never really have done that many. That is in no way to say that I don’t enjoy them. I obviously really do, but some of them more than others. This film is the ultimate form of escapism and also is a piece of fine art from the very start to finish. Animated films can take us on a journey and this one does just that.
This pushes things to the limit visually and really is a jaw-dropping experience. Every frame of this film could be a piece of art hanging in a gallery. There’s that much attention that has been put into every little bit of detail, shading, textures, and such for every breathtaking background.
This film, in my honest opinion, has one of the most visually stunning styles of animation that I have seen (to date). The colors are just so beautiful here all throughout, as much as the Blu-ray format will allow, along with every single frame of the artwork (as mentioned). “Weathering With You” on Blu-ray earns every bit of a perfect rating for video quality.
Audio here comes in the same DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound, lossless, in both the original Japanese and in an English dub. The mix really manages to make some beautiful use of the sound of rain all throughout sound remarkable in a 5.1 mix with nice use of the rear channels and a hefty amount of bass represented when thunder comes. The film’s original music, composed by the group RADWIMPS, proves to deliver so much here itself in terms of making this movie not only work but also helps make the mix all the more impressive and downright perfect.
The bonus materials here are pretty solid, totaling up to a little over two hours in length. You get three nice featurettes, a full episode from a TV talk show in Japan that is over an hour itself, and finally, you get some promotional materials in the form of trailers and TV spots. There’s more content to be found on the “Limited Collector’s Edition” if that’s not enough for you, and/or perhaps you’d like to have the film in 4K UHD Blu-ray as well. Still, for the average consumer, this standard Blu-ray version of the film will do nicely.
I’ve not been this excited about animation in a very long time. The sound mix also does the film justice and should not disappoint. This animated film in its debut on the Blu-ray format here in North America comes as recommended and what I do consider to be a Truly Beautiful Film in All Ways.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
5 (out of 5) for audio quality
4 (out of 5) for bonus materials
A Truly Beautiful Film in All Ways
2020 Blu-ray Release
2020 Limited Collector’s Edition 4K Blu-ray set
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