4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
“Sunshine Girl” Hina Amano (Nana Mori) has mysterious abilities to clear the sky, and she meets Hodaka Morishima (Kotaro Daigo) a teenage runaway from a remote island.
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“WEATHERING WITH YOU” LIMITED COLLECTOR’S EDITION”
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray; 2019; PG-13 for suggestive material, some violence and language; Streaming via Amazon Video/Prime, Apple, FandangoNOW, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube
Best extra: Feature-length Documentary “The Making of ‘Weathering with You’”
EVERYONE talks about the weather even if nothing can be done about it … unless you’re Hina, a teen who has a mysterious ability to bring sunshine to a rainy day.
Her magical power comes with consequences, however. Every time Hina, voiced by Nana Mori, uses it she loses a bit of herself. It takes a while to discover this as she slowly fades in “Weathering with You,” the award-winning anime written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, creator of the fan-favorite and critically acclaimed “Your Name” (2016).
The story unfolds from the perspective of Hodaka, a young runaway voiced by Kotaro Daigo. Having left his island home for Tokyo, the teen is soon over his head – out of money, homeless, and looking for any job he can get. He meets Hina when he stops in a McDonald’s where she works. They meet again later after she’s lost her job, and he’s working for Keisuke Suga (Shun Oguri) who runs a small company that publishes a magazine about occult and unusual events – like the “sunshine girl” who can control weather. During his early Tokyo adventures, Hodaka finds a gun, which makes him a target of a criminal organization. His parents have also filed a missing person report, so the police are looking for him as well.
(1) The skies over Tokyo are always gray and rainy. (2) Hina discovers a ray of sunshine over a ruined shrine atop a dilapidated building. (3&4) She starts to pray and the sky turns blue as if she's transported in the heavens. (5) This is the sixth feature film from director Makoto Shinkai and it premiered in Tokyo on July 19, 2019.
After Hodaka and Hina become friends, they set up a website advertising her gift for controlling weather. They're soon overwhelmed with orders for picture-perfect weddings, graduations and parties as Tokyo is flooded by unusual rainfall. A happy ending seems almost impossible since Hina’s gift comes with such a price, and Hodaka is being chased by criminals and police. Still, magic has a way of producing wonders, especially for those who believe.
Runtime is 112 minutes – almost two hours. “Weathering with You” is a mostly gentle story reminiscent of those made by Hayao Miyazaki with its devotion to characterization, relationships and realistic settings. The magic seems almost incidental with the emphasis is on real-life conflict.
That said, it can be a little slow going at times. The very young will have trouble following the details. Others who are ready for a complicated, contemporary tale with fantasy elements will find a lot to enjoy.
Shout! Factory delivers the first Japanese anime in 4K UHD in the U.S. with a superb Collector’s Edition presentation. It was created in 1080p format boosted to a 2K digital intermediate for the Blu-ray enclosed in the set. The 4K upgrade with HDR10 and Dolby Vision forms of High Dynamic Range look great. The aspect ratio is 1.78:1. At this time, the 4K UHD is only available on disc.
4K UHD seems especially made for animation, and it’s my favorite way to watch it. Color, contrast, and effects are outstanding. Details, frequently drenched in misty rain, are sharper, and black levels solid, with enriched shading and tones. It’s the overall visual appearance that gives this 4K animation top marks. Streaming sunlight, blades of grass, and items at a rooftop shrine pop off the screen.
(1&2) Hodaka is from a remote island and runs away and comes to Tokyo during his spring holiday. (3) The cityscape animation is full of grays and blues with fine detail and mood as the city continues to have rain. (4) Hodaka is taken under the wing by Keisuke Suga (Shun Oguri) who runs a small company that publishes a magazine, as they investigate the urban legends to Tokyo's unusual weather.
The 4K and Blu-ray both get a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. We listened to the original Japanese with subtitles, but an English dub is available. The score, as with “Your Name,” is composed and performed by The Radwimps rock band, and is included as a bonus feature CD.
Dialogue, effects – especially the rain and city sounds – and music are well balanced throughout with good surround delivery throughout the room. Deep bass effects, such as lightning and gunshots, are hearty with no need to change volume.
For those who cringe at the short supply – or even lack of decent extras on physical discs, much less streaming – you are in for a feast! Shout! always provides great treats with their Collector Editions. In fact, no one does it better.
Physical extras include a 104-page color book with key visuals; cast, musician and staff interviews, concept illustrations, pre-production materials, and a Q&A with the director, who answers a number of questions from over 1,000 fan responses.
First question: - "What made you choose Kotaro Daigo and Nana Mori as the leads in this film?"
Answer: Makoto Shinkai - "First of all, both of them have exceptionally good voices and range. We had around 2,000 applicants, but it was their voices that caught my ear, as if they were raising hands. On top of that, Kotato was very similar in his appearance and behavior to Hodaka. At a glance, my instinct told me he was Hodaka.
"I hesitated more over Nana. I thought she was excellent, but at the same time I thought she was a bit unstable. She sometimes showed us great performance, but I didn't feel she was always consistent. But then, I reasoned that her instability was like the weather itself, and Nana might be someone who could educate me about Hina's personality.
Now that the voice recording is over, I cannot even imagine 'Weathering with You' without either of them. I think they have brought an irreplaceable dynamic to the film."
The set also includes a movie poster and decal, along with the aforementioned Radwimps CD. What a haul!
(1) Hodaka saves Hina from some thugs who try to get her to work at a swill-slinging adult bar. (2) At her apartment, Hina introduces Hodaka to her young brother Nagi. (3&4) Hodaka and Hina start an online business providing her ability to clear the skies for people's special events.
The 4K disc is movie-only; find bonus extras on the two Blu-ray discs. Happy to say these are not the usual toss-off features; they’re smart, entertaining, and filled with information. So much thought went into these. We plan to revisit them for details we certainly missed during the first viewing. The CD goes to the car for music while driving.
The features disc has an interview with creator Makoto Shinkai in Japanese with English subtitles. It contains footage from his previous films, Q&A panels, his collaboration with The Radwimps, cameos, and inspiration from Studio Ghibli.
“Exploring Makoto Shinkai’s Filmography” is a 13-minute look at his previous films, and the “Weather Front Featurette” is a 24-minute look at some of the actors, voice actors, musicians, and Japanese movie theaters. “Talk Show: Makoto Shinkai and Yumiko Udo” is a lengthy (1:10 hours) TV interview session following the making-of the film and exploring Japanese culture. A host of trailers and TV spots flow one after another.
The second Blu-ray disc features a detailed “The Making of ‘Weathering with You” documentary running 90-minutes with English subtitles. There's a peek into a number of planning meetings, auditions, and interviews including with character designer Atsushi Tamura, who has always dreamed of working on one of the Shinkai’s films. “Tanaka himself told me that the animation director should create the character model sheets from scratch.”
Yes – you could spend days with this collection, watching the film and all of the extras. It is impressive – just the kind of thing fans crave. There might not be a digital copy, but the bonus features certainly make up for it.
— Kay Reynolds
(1) Hina starts to realize her body is becoming transparent with each use of her special gift. (2&3) Hina, Hodaka, and Nagi are on the run from the police and the weather turns super crazy as it turns cold and starts to snow in the middle of the summer. (4) Hina distracts the police by praying and a lightning bolt strikes causing a fire.
(1) Hina gives Hodaka a hug knowing her time is short to become a living sacrifice to turn the weather back to normal. (2&3) Hina disappears and Hodaka sets out to find her. He discovers the shrine and jumps in and he's transported into the sky. (4) The rains return and the city is half-submerged with floodwaters and Hodaka eventually finds Hina praying.