There’s something truly fantastical about the films that director Makoto Shinkai crafts, and Weathering with You is no exception. The film tells the tale of a teenage boy named Hodaka who runs away to Tokyo where it has been raining for a few months straight and ends up falling in love with Hina, a "sunshine girl" who can control the weather and let the sun shine for short periods of time.
It’s hard to talk about Weathering with You without directly comparing it to its predecessor Your Name, a romantic story between a countryside girl and a city boy who occasionally switching bodies. I came into this film expecting to cry my eyes out, as I did with Your Name, and was surprisingly disappointed when the waterworks never came. Weathering with You is a much more light-hearted affair: I found myself cracking up more often than dreading my predicted plot twist.
What also makes this film strikingly different from Your Name was how the scenes and settings were more in tune with the darker realities of Tokyo, like the infamous high unemployment rates and even the underground clubs that solicit prostitution. This grittiness is what contributes to the overall theme of climate change as the population is subjected to extreme weather.
The characters are all incredibly distinct: the washed-up Keisuke, who takes in Hodaka and gives him the job of chasing conspiracy stories, Natsumi,a passionate spitfire, and Nagi, Hina’s younger brother, an adorable ladies’ man. They all provide great support for the two main protagonists who care for each other in such a pure and innocent way. On screen, the relationship is really sweet.
The fact that both Hodaka and Hina are running away from something – From Hodaka from his parents and his rural island lifestyle and Hina from the law – created suspense because their fates are uncertain and running on borrowed time. The story is told from the perspective of Hodaka, and I really would have enjoyed seeing more of Hina’s story because I honestly found her background to be much more compelling than Hodaka’s backstory because of the tragicness of her story.
The artwork in the film was phenomenal, and there’s obvious detail and care put into the work. In a scene where Hina parts the skies and a beautiful sunset appeared in lieu of the thunderstorm clouds, popping colors give off an ethereal glow. The artistic direction and composition of the scene were absolutely radiant and awe-striking: It really showcased the talent of all the artists in the studio.
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One aspect of the movie that I was a bit disappointed about was the ending. After a climactic scene where Hodoka fights off the police and crosses over a shrine to reunite with Hina, the ending wrapped up so fast that I got whiplash. All of a sudden, he’s graduated high school, Tokyo is half-flooded and he reunites with Hina... then movie is over. Part of having Your Name fresh in my mind meant that I expected a plot twist, and although there was one, I felt like the movie was incomplete. Still, there was a fun surprise for Your Name fans as the main characters of Your Name made small cameos.
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However, I do applaud Shinkai for creating a story that is different from his previous ones in that he shifted the narrative towards something more comedic to comment on the greater issue of climate change.
Weathering with You is definitely worth the watch if you generally enjoy Japanese animated films, but I would recommend stamping down any kind of expectations in general beforehand to truly enjoy the film for what it is: a magical love story between two young adolescents who face the harsh realities of the world.