Makoto Shinkai's first full length movie which I placed on hold at the library immediately after watching "5 Centimeters Per Second, his previous (non-full-length) movie.
Our heroine is Asuna, approximately 10-12 years old. She's very independent and pretty much runs the house after school because she's an only child and her mother is always working. But her life gets explosively weird with the arrival of a huge creature, and her rescue from the creature by a somewhat super-powered young man named Shun. We find out that Asuna's father died when she was very young. Asuna also gets entangled with her teacher Mr. Morisaki (who has lost his wife) after she becomes interested in the mention in a school story of a place called 'Agartha' where Shun claimed to be from.
The story is a heavy-handed and sometimes very weird exploration of how people deal with death, loss, and the process of grieving. Asuna and Mr. Morisaki end up in the underworld, where they have further adventures and attempt to process their own losses.
Obviously I wasn't overly excited about the plot of the movie. It reminded me quite a lot of Miyazaki's "Castle in the Sky" in the artwork, the heavy-handed message, and the weirdness of the environment. I was somewhat disappointed in this one, although the artwork is just as brilliant as his previous movie. I look forward to seeing his future movies.