‘Weathering With You’ Treads Tricky Waters but Still Flows Well

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Published February 12, 2020
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Nagi, Hina and Hodaka jump for joy as they realize they made their first profit from doing their "Sunshine Girl" job. Photo Courtesy GKIDS.

After three long-awaited years, Japanese director Makoto Shinkai has finally released the successor to the highly acclaimed animated feature film, “Your Name.” Filled to the brim with engaging characters, outstanding imagery and a surprising emotional resonance, “Weathering With You” is a movie I can recommend to both anime lovers and the general audience.

The film starts off with 16-year-old Hodaka Morishima leaving his rural hometown in search of an interesting and more entertaining life in Tokyo. Little does he know that, upon arrival, he’d get constantly soaked by the city’s unanswered rain phenomena.

A forgotten student ID and a small pocket of money is only the beginning of unfortunate events to happen to the young school boy. Hodaka can’t find a job and is constantly seeking shelter at uneventful places, such as alleyways and near trash cans at cafes and fast-food restaurants. Luckily, he is later taken in by a man named Keisuke Suga who offers him a reporter job and a room to stay at his home.

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Hina Amano smiles happily after seeing that the rain has stopped and is greeted with sunshine. Photo courtesy GKIDS.

While working for Keisuke, Hodaka runs into Hina Amano, a hardworking teenager who takes care of herself and her younger brother, Nagi. Overtime, Hodaka learns that Hina has a magical power to change the weather by simply praying. With this unbelievable talent, the two create a business where Hina would be hired to create sunshine for a few hours at social events such as sports games, weddings and parties.

Despite their short-term success, Hodaka and Hina suffer similarly to how Taki and Mitsuha of “Your Name” do. The two have a hard time sticking together due to multiple outside forces separating them beyond their control. The police are constantly chasing them as Hodaka is a runaway and Hina and Nagi don’t have a legal parent or guardian to take care of them.

Thanks to Shinkai’s complex yet incredulous storytelling skills, “Weathering With You” keeps the audience at the edge of their seats, hungrily waiting to find out what is next in store for the juvenile duo.

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“Weathering with You” features many photo-realistic scenes throughout the film. Photo courtesy of GKIDS

As well as a captivating narrative, the film also includes photo-realistic scenes at several Shinjuku divisional areas. Various shades of blue and orange lighting symbolize the constant mood swings the cast members experience, rather than simply symbolizing the changing weather.

While the character designs, hues and music are reminiscent of “Your Name,” one can easily grasp that this movie is not simply copied and pasted. The themes may be intertwined, but the adventures being told are vastly different. Characters have contrasting intentions and the fast pacing is unmatched in “Weathering With You.”

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“Weathering with You” was released in the United States on Jan. 17, 2020. Photo courtesy of GKIDS

The pacing of the film flows like water, constantly speeding up and slowing down due to environmental factors such as heavy storms and strong gusts of wind. These factors metaphorically relate to all the chase downs and violent acts perceived in the movie. I personally enjoyed this kind of pacing as it got my heart racing and heightened the intense drama that lays within the storyline.

Overall, “Weathering With You” is truly another work of art created by the talented filmmaker, Shinkai. As a big fan of “Your Name,” it was inevitable that I would enjoy another film from this same Japanese artist. I appreciated the complex narrative, the likable characters and, most importantly, the symbols of real-world problems.

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“Weathering With You” is Makoto Shinkai’s newest film after nearly three years. Photo courtesy of GKIDS

I can’t help but interpret Hodaka and Hina as all the young people in the world that have a hard time advancing in a society that is more fortunate than them. If that doesn’t hit close to home to those at the margins of society, then I don’t know what will.

I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to watch this movie at a theater near me. As a matter of fact, I could see a crossover happening between this Shinkai film and “Your Name.” I hope Shinkai grants my wish one day.

“Weathering With You” receives a 10 out of 10 rating.

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