Weathering With You – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Tenki no Ko

 

Similar: Your Name

Patema Inverted

The World is Still Beautiful

 

Watched in: Japanese

Genre: Drama Fantasy Romance

Length: 1 hr. 54 min. movie

 

Positives:

  • Stunning art, particularly the weather
  • Great cast of characters
  • Unconventional story direction
  • Beautiful music complements the emotional moments

Negatives:

  • Minor animation shortcuts

(Request an anime for review here.)

For a man who loves the weather as much as Makoto Shinkai does, it was inevitable that he would release a movie about weather itself. After missing the opportunity to see this in theatres, I finally have access to the blu-ray of Weathering With You. Was it worth the anticipation?

Look, I love Shinkai’s visual style so much that even with a mediocre story it would still be worth the wait. He builds such atmosphere, such ambiance in his films that I simply like being in them. However, having a great story as well never hurts.

Weathering With You opens with a teenaged boy called Hodaka on his way to Tokyo. He’s on the run to what he assumes will be a better life. Little does he know that Tokyo has few favours in store for him, gives no pity. Someone takes advantage of him before he even arrives! Then there’s the rain. An eternal torrent of rain has settled over Tokyo and it shows no signs of abating.

Wandering the streets and starving after some horrendous financial planning (why go to McDonalds when low on funds? If you can’t cook, at least choose the convenience store), he finds a job at a small publishing house, where he becomes the jack-of-all-trades. Assistant, note taker, cleaner, cook, shopper, and writer, he does it all. It’s rough, but the people are nice. Things are looking up! All of this changes – for better and worse – when he meets Hina, a desperate girl about to make a horrible career decision with some shady dudes and he yanks her out of there. Somehow, she has the ability to “pray” the rain away and bring out the sun. Hodaka and Hina have the idea to sell her services as the “Sunshine Girl” for your event, where it’s a market, a wedding, or meteor shower viewing party.

One will immediately feel similarities to Shinkai’s previous film, Your Name, when watching Weathering With You – and will appeal to the same fans. No works of his have been more similar than these two films. However, Weathering With You is much simpler in premise and execution. You don’t have to ask yourself, “Wait, when he was doing this, she was doing that, yeah? And this lines up with that other thing?” It’s much more straightforward and refined here. The concept of Weathering With You is not as initially gripping as Your Name was. It doesn’t summarise itself in that one neat sentence that can sell the idea without further explanation.

As such, Weathering With You does not grab me from the outset – storywise, of course; visually, amazing from the first frame. It isn’t until the first downward turn in Hodaka and Hina’s relationship when we realise there is a cost to her power that I get that, “Yes, now I’m really in,” feeling. Once the story hits that point, I love every moment of the tumultuous ride we go on as they struggle with her destiny and the past catches up with them. What, you thought being a runway kid with a gun wouldn’t have consequences? And what of her, an underage girl with a small brother in her care?

Most of Shinkai’s protagonists have this element of deep-seated sadness that drives so much of what they do. The characteristic has recurred so often, that I wonder what Shinkai experienced himself to compel him to write such protagonists. All characters in Weathering With You are believable and relatable on some level, from the publisher trying to visit his daughter against the objections of his ex-mother in law to Hina’s surprisingly mature little brother in affairs of the heart (my favourite character).

This is a delightful film.

If you were to ask for some negatives though, apart from that slightly weaker start, I wouldn’t have much to say. It is noticeable that the subplot of his job at the publisher stops about halfway, its purpose being to discover the cost of Hina’s power. There should have been a little something to keep it going, though thankfully the two characters from his job are always relevant. The lyrical music can be a bit much at times as well. There are a few little things here and there, but nothing is a big enough problem to detract from the overall experience.

Some people may take issue with the magic element of Hina’s power, but I don’t see it as a problem. Not everything needs encyclopaedic explanation. It all depends on how prevalent the magic is. The main reason we have explanations for magic systems is to avoid things like deus ex machina or general confusion. A writer needs to strike that balance of explaining enough to sell the audience on the premise without drowning them in exposition. Weathering With You gets it just right.

Art – Very High

You have never seen animated weather look as good as this. The other elements are great too. The only visual flaws are a few CG assets – wouldn’t have been much more work to do them normally, so they must have been pressed for time, but these are minor problems.

Sound – High

The soundtrack is beautiful, though a little overpowering at times with some lyrical tracks, as if there were product placement requirements in place that mandated a minimum runtime and volume to make sure the audience picks it up. Acting is good.

Story – Very High

A runaway teen meets a “Sunshine Girl” amid a dark and rainy Tokyo. Though it has a slow start, Weathering With You soon ramps up to become a dramatic journey of love, sacrifice, and eternal rain.

Overall Quality – Very High

Recommendation: Watch it. Weathering With You is perfect for Shinkai fans and will even appeal to non-anime fans with its simple premise into great execution.

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Awards: (hover over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: 

Fluid AnimationGreat MusicStrong Lead CharactersStunning Art Quality

Negative: None

16 thoughts on “Weathering With You – Anime Review”

  1. Ah, were you referring to the CG fireworks scene, among other things? Yeah, that was definitely noticeable.

    Glad you liked it! I’ve been seeing so much dislike for this film online, and lots of unfavourable comparisons to Your Name, that I wonder if I’d seen the same movie as everyone else (I watched it thrice in theatres, btw; I still remember the audience hollering in delight at the ‘guest appearances’).

    Also Nagi-senpai is my favourite character too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I liked the story, but the ending didn’t sit well with me at all. I felt like it disregarded climate change action with the notion that “this is how things are meant to be, and we’ll sit down and watch it unfold without doing anything.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I feel like it ends on a pro climate change action note. Hodaka is thinking “this is how it’s meant to be, we can’t change anything, but is that true?”. And then when he sees Hina again, he says “no! That’s not true! Together, we had changed the weather” and then he tells her everything will be daijoubu.

      So the way I interpreted this is that he initially falls into the “we can’t change nature, this is all meant to happen” fallacy, before breaking out of it once he saw Hina again. It’s a blink and you’ll miss it moment, for sure, but it’s there, and I think that one scene confirms Shinkai’s views on climate change.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yeah, I agree.
      Movie starts of so well, and ends so poorly.
      Not just with cheese, cliche plot points like people appearing out of nowhere and having sudden mindset changes etc, but thematically too.
      Was such a disappointment.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. Like Manas, I took it to mean the opposite, that they should have done something about the climate earlier and not relied on magic to save the day at the last moment. Furthermore, the fact that it was a child set for sacrifice, to me, is like dumping the problem on the next generation. “If climate change is real, it won’t happen for ages. I’ll be dead by then. Let the kids worry about it.”

      Negative endings certainly aren’t for everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My wife and I enjoyed the movie thoroughly. Would not change the ending – but… Tokyo could only be underwater if the various ice caps all melted. And astonishingly quickly, given the movie’s time frame. Heavy rain alone couldn’t put Tokyo under that much water. However, it would be wrong for me to take Shinkai to task over climatology. One accepts it at face value and treats it as a fantasy where not everything needs to be explained. The same thing is true of Your Name.

    The film is not about human-caused climate change. The story is about nature being beyond the efforts of the humans involved to control. When Hina tries, it destroys her and only a superhuman effort by Hodaka saves her. They endure, eventually the ocean rises, and that’s that. The rain is the ominous backdrop against which their love story develops. It’s the lack of caution with which they engaged in weather management, not even considering there could be a price paid, which is problematic.

    My favorite Shinkai is still The Garden of Words. Rain, beautifully and lovingly done rain with an emphasis on the green that rain produces. The short, Someone’s Gaze, is also beautiful, not dealing in weather at all but in a father’s relationship with his grown daughter.

    Another motif Shinkai plays with is “koi,” the love that is longing and not immediately realized. Garden of Words, 5 Centimeters per Second, Your Name, and Weathering with You all have people who fall in love and then are separated for years. In 5 Centimeters per Second, they drift apart. In Your Name and Weathering with You, they reunite. In Garden of Words, it is implied they might reunite but nothing is confirmed except that they were still thinking of one another.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One does have to accept that the rain can simply drown Tokyo. I believe someone in the film (an old lady?) makes a point of talking about how much of Tokyo’s landmass is artificial, built in the sea. There is an amazing island in Tokyo bay called Odaiba – massive island with shopping centres, broadcasting stations, automotive HQ, museums, parks, the Gundam statue, and so much more. All on an artificial island. By focusing just on Tokyo, I think Shinkai may have saying that if we don’t do something the city will go back under the sea.

      Like

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