PJ Knapke’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is perhaps the best directed animated film I have ever seen in terms of composition and blocking. Each frame is intensely focused on the little things, from quite cuts to tiny gestures and shifts in body language to quick asides to catch an acorn falling from a tree, Naoka Yamada captures every nook and cranny of each character's psyche and crafts the anatomy of each scene with an intense precision. This precision always results in stunningly beautiful images that often take your breath away, and thankfully the deep emotionality of the story keeps the film from simply being just a pretty picture.
One of the most difficult things it seems to effectively portray in a way that fully captures the empathy of the audience and doesn't feel unearned is the redemptive arc. This film does it beautifully. In a lot of ways, Shōya's self-journey felt a lot like the path to achieving the type of awareness, sense of tranquility, selflessness, and patience that David Foster Wallace outline in his famous commencement speech, a sense of being that I struggle to attain each and every day. Although my sense of guilt and self-loathing are not nearly as effectual nor exist within the same circumstances, I related heavily to the idea of his journey and the patience with which Yamada reveals it was perfect. What more can I say, each and every character was excellently crafted and each dealt with their own personal issues and self-doubts. An excellent film overall and one of the best anime films there is. (I'm wavering a lot between a 4.5 and a 5 here, not sure what to do but it'll probably change a lot)