Picture this: you’re an acclaimed animation director following up your sci-fantasy epic with a smaller story, about an urban schoolboy who wishes to be a shoemaker, skipping class whenever it rains to draw sketches alongside a daydrinking woman under a city park gazebo. You have uniquely lovely visual artistry, especially outdoors in the rain, with your photoreal animation of water and light. The gazebo people don’t even know each other’s names, but gradually begin to encourage each other.
Now, do you leave good enough alone, or pivot to a tantrummy third act where she’s revealed as a disgraced teacher from his school and he comes to her apartment and declares he’s in love with her? Shinkai chose the latter. The boy also voiced Haku in Spirited Away, and she voiced the lead in Night Is Short, Walk on Girl.