Aaron White’s review published on Letterboxd:
It's exceedingly rare that I've ever felt the need to walk back a review, but I've gotta be honest. When I saw this at TIFF, I wasn't blown away by it, but let the experience affect me a little too much. I was really hoping that seeing it in English would clear up what I found to be a quite confusing story, a lack of strong emotional connection, and pacing issues. Sadly, it did not.
I don't doubt that the film may have deeper cultural significance that I'm not picking up on, but even if I go learn about that it isn't going to change my feelings about watching it. Still has stunning animation, one of the absolute best scores of the year, and adorable fantasy characters (once they finally get to the magical world which feels like it takes forever). But there is very little chance I ever think about this or have the desire to watch it again. Just doesn't have a detailed enough fantasy world and themes like a main character growing into calling a his dead mother's sister "Mom" after barely knowing her and a short adventure did not work for me. I'm glad for those who loved it, and frankly somewhat devastated that my least favorite Miyazaki and Shinkai films both came out in the same year.