This is Makoto Shinkai's best film, hands down. The plot is engaging and the characters are all memorable. It reminds me a lot of Studio Ghibli's adventure works and Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) - it even includes the blue crystal necklaces! It is based on disparate mythological, fantasy and science fiction influences but combines them in a way that really resonates with the viewer. No longer do we get the sappy romance stories of Makoto's other works, but genuine emotional depth about loneliness, longing and acceptance. Not to mention the animation and the setting are amazing!