Anime Film Review: Weathering with You
English Title: Weathering with You
Japanese Title: 天気の子 [lit. weather’s child]
Director(s): Shinkai Makoto
Writer(s): Shinkai Makoto
Studio: CoMix Wave
Runtime: 1h 51m
Starring: Daigo Kotaro, Mori Nana, Oguri Shun, Honda Tsubasa, Kiryu Sakura
Morishima Hodaka is a 16-year-old high school student who is running away from home. On the ferry making its way to Tokyo in a storm, a man named Suga Keisuke saves him from possibly going overboard and gives him his business card.
In Tokyo where there is near-constant rain, Hodaka is soon low on money and has no job or a place to live, so he works for Suga’s magazine publishing company along with his assistant Natsumi. During this time, he meets teenager Amano Hina, later rescuing her from a club manager pressuring her to work as a waitress. Hina turns out to be a “sunshine girl”, having the power to pray for the rain to stop temporarily. Their friendship develops as they try to make ends meet by running a service where Hina stops the rain for a modest fee. But, of course, tampering with nature always comes with a price…
Visually, it takes off from that refined production quality seen in Your Name. With all the rain, it obviously reminds one of The Garden of Words but the rain is noticeably drawn better here and its purpose is much less poetic.
Whilst Shinkai admits to taking some inspiration from so-called climate change, he thankfully does not dwell on it. The excessive rain is obviously presented as an abnormal and threatening element, but since the story follows Hina with her powers, it has a mystical element that keeps it moderately interesting. Perhaps Shinkai doesn’t want to dwell too much on that either—after all, mystical interaction between the weather and characters is hardly a new idea—but the focus on the supernatural side of things could be stronger.
In terms of characterizations, both Hodaka and Hina follow the “orphan” trope even if Hodaka is a runaway and not actually an orphan. The point is that their parents are not around which conveniently sets up the worldview of “us youth against the rest of the world”. Having said that, it’s not quite that simple either, since Hodaka does have Suga as a supportive avuncular figure as well as Natsumi as the older-sister figure. Hodaka even gets in trouble with the law but the police try to be considerate in their own way too. So, whilst there is that “anti-world” theme, Shinkai avoids the “unhelpful adult” stereotype.
Hina and her younger brother are likable and although Hodaka is not a total brat, he is more difficult to relate to. His home life on some small island is presumably difficult, hence him running away but there are no details. Although nowhere near as dark or extreme, Hodaka reminds me of Seita in Grave of the Fireflies (1988). It’s as if he is running away out of pride rather than necessity.
The other weakness is the plot in the latter half. Apart from production quality, I set aside any specific expectations related to Your Name when I saw this film. After all, it’s meant to be a different film. But the problem is that it got to the point that the plot resembled Your Name too much when Hodaka has to save Hina. I don’t know if Shinkai was trying to replicate its success and/or it was simply too soon after as it is very easy to (unconsciously) write about something that one has seen or read or worked on recently.
Shinkai, Art Director Takiguchi Hiroshi who had the same role in The Garden of Words and the rest of their team has done a beautiful job in terms of production. However, both the plot and the themes lack a certain focus or intensity and at times resembled Your Name too much. Overall, it is not a bad film but, for some, it may be a little dissatisfying on first viewing.
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