Weathering With You
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Writer: Makoto Shinkai
Studio: CoMix Wave Films
Stars: Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, and Shun Oguri (Japanese)
Brandon Engman, Ashley Boettcher, and Lee Pace (English)
The summer of his high school freshman year, Hodaka runs away from his remote island home to Tokyo, and quickly finds himself pushed to his financial and personal limits. The weather is unusually gloomy and rainy every day, as if to suggest his future. He lives his days in isolation, but finally finds work as a writer for a mysterious occult magazine. Then one day, Hodaka meets Hina on a busy street corner. This bright and strong-willed girl possesses a strange and wonderful ability: the power to stop the rain and clear the sky.
When I first saw the trailer for Weathering With You and who was attached to it, I knew that this was a film to watch out for. Thanks to Fathom Events and distributors like GKIDS, the English licensees for this film, America has been getting more and more anime films in theaters over the years. This has been great for someone like me who has been a fanatic for Japanese animation for as long as I can remember. It was anime like the films from Studio Ghibli that played a big role in my desire to become a writer and in my dream to one day write for animation.
After Miyazaki’s latest retirement, of which he has since come out of and is in the process of working on a new film, Studio Ghibli had shut down production, leaving a hole in the anime feature industry. Luckily, there were those who stepped up with new studios like Studio Ponoc and Studio Trigger and directors like Mamoru Hosoda (Mirai, The Boy and the Beast) ensuring that there will continue to be quality animated films from Japan for the foreseeable future. Another director who has played a large role in this is the director of Weathering With You himself, Makoto Shinkai.
I first became familiar with Shinkai’s work by seeing his films, The Place Promised in Our Early Days and Children Who Chase Lost Voices. I found both of these films to be enjoyable and of great quality. The next film of his that I saw was The Garden of Words. This film had some of the most beautiful animation I have ever seen in any film. Shinkai’s name would gain worldwide acclaim with his monster hit, Your Name. The film would go on to become the highest grossing anime film of all time. Since Your Name was a fantastic film that I highly enjoyed, I knew that his next film, Weathering With You, was definitely one I needed to experience on the big screen.
After seeing the film, I can tell you that Weathering With You is absolutely amazing. The animation was simply breathtaking, especially the animation for the rain which plays a major role in the story. The use of the weather as a metaphor for the feelings of the characters was woven into the story seamlessly. The animation for Tokyo itself was also very impressive with the city itself feeling alive. The depiction of both the city and the weather make both feel like characters in their own right. All of this created an atmosphere where the mystical and unknown aspects perfectly intertwined with the modern, urban setting.
The cast of characters in this film are all well written and likable in their own way and add plenty of charm to the film. There are two main characters in this film. The first is Hodaka Morishima. Hodaka is a runaway high school student who travels to Tokyo to escape his feelings of entrapment from his isolated island home. The second is Hina Amano. Hina is a “Sunshine Girl”. This means that she has the supernatural ability to temporarily change the weather by stopping the unusual never ending rain over Tokyo thus allowing the Sun to shine through. The growing relationship between these two and the effects that they have on each other throughout the narrative is one of the biggest redeeming qualities of the film.
The supporting cast is great as well. The first notable character is Keisuke Suga. He is a chain smoking writer who specializes in articles about strange phenomenon. He helps Hodaka by giving him a job and a place to stay as Hodaka reminds him of himself. Other prominent characters in the story are Natsumi, a college student working for Keisuke’s writing company, and Nagisa, Hina’s younger brother. This ensemble of characters play off each other to great effect with each character being essential to the flow of the story and each other’s growth and development.
The animation and characters are both supported by the excellent writing and storytelling with some examples already mentioned above. One particular storytelling device that was done exceptionally well was the world building. The world building is slowly sprinkled throughout the story and thus avoids any scenes that feature large info dumps that would just slow the story down. This allows the viewers to explore the world at the same pace as the characters.
Full of emotion, drama, humor, and breathtaking visuals, Weathering With You is a worthy follow up to Your Name. No matter what the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards, or any other award show tells you, Weathering With You was the best animated film from 2019 and is a must watch for anyone who enjoys great storytelling, especially in animated form.
Weathering With You
Full of emotion, drama, humor, and breathtaking visuals, Weathering With You is a worthy follow up to Your Name and is a much watch for anyone who enjoys great storytelling especially in animated form.