“Weathering with You” stars Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, Shun Oguri, and Tsubasa Honda. Released on July 19, 2019, the film is about a young man who encounters an orphan girl who can control the weather.
The film is written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, who is best known for writing and directing “Your Name”. Before I get to the other bunch of films that are coming out this weekend, I would like to take the opportunity to share my thoughts on another anime film that is not made by Studio Ghibli. This latest animated feature wasn’t able to earn a slot at this year’s Oscars, but it did receive a few nominations at the Annie Awards, so that’s something. The only reason why I wanted to check this film out was Makoto Shinkai himself. I was able to watch his last feature, “Your Name”, a while ago, and I was really impressed with what he can do with the animation in terms of storytelling and the visuals. Plus, I am a sucker for animation, especially the ones that are made in Japan. Similar to what I did for certain anime films like “Mirai”, I managed to attend a fan preview screening of the film thanks to Fathom Events and GKIDS, the ruler of independent animation, before its official release to the United States. If you haven’t seen the film yet, don’t worry, I will do my best to keep this review spoiler-free so that you can experience it for yourself without knowing anything about it. I will be looking at the English dub version of the film, which features the voice talents of Brandon Engman, Ashley Boettcher, Lee Pace, and Alison Brie.
The story follows Hodaka Morishima (Daigo), a high-school freshman who runs away from home and moves to Tokyo. While attempting to live on his own and earn some money, he encounters a writer named Keisuke Suga (Oguri) who hires him to work at his small publishing company. Hodaka later finds out that Keisuke and his niece, Natsumi (Honda), are investigating strange legends that involve the ever-lasting rainy weather in Tokyo, including the mysterious weather maiden who can control the weather. The so-called weather maiden happens to be Hina Amano (Mori), a young woman who has the ability to clear the sky just by praying. After his encounter with Hina, Hodaka decides to start his own business with her, which has her clearing the weather for special events. As their relationship grows, they soon run into plenty of obstacles that will test their bond. This is a typical boy-meets-girl story that is combined with some fantasy elements and real-world concerns about the weather, which is to be expected because fantasy works well with Japanese animation. In terms of the narrative, the film didn’t have a lot of special moments to rival Shinkai’s last film, “Your Name”, but it’s still a stunning and engaging piece of animation art that relies on Shinkai’s greatest strength, which is visual storytelling. It did have a couple of familiar elements that were borrowed from the other teen romance films. However, “Weathering with You” was able to use those elements and portray them in a way that’s both clever and thought-provoking. It’s a well-told and heartfelt story about finding a ray of sunshine not just in the sky above, but also in our lives. The characters in the film ranged from likable to relatable, especially the two main characters, Hodaka and Hina, and the English cast did a pretty solid job at giving them their respective voices. Compared to the relationships in the other generic teen romance films, the one between Hodaka and Hina in “Weathering with You” is the type of relationship that’s both believable and sweet. I would gladly take this relationship over “Twilight” any day. Then again, I usually think that any relationship is better than the one in “Twilight”. Also, if you love “Your Name”, this film has a couple of surprise cameos from that film that will surely please you. The animation served as the true heart of the film, and just like the animation in “Your Name”, it’s dazzling, nicely detailed, and downright beautiful to look at from the city of Tokyo to the tiny raindrops that hit the ground. Shinkai has a creative mind when it comes to portraying Japanese animation as an art form in his films, similar to how Hayao Miyazaki has his own in his animated films, which is obviously the main reason why I keep supporting these types of animated films.
Overall, “Weathering with You” is a wonderful follow-up to Makoto Shinkai’s successful film, “Your Name”, even though it didn’t come close to that film’s freshness and craftsmanship. Aside from a couple of similar teen romance elements, the film represents Shinkai as a talented and passionate filmmaker thanks to some likable characters, its thought-provoking and charming story, and its incredible animation. It is a ray of sunshine that will easily light up everyone’s damp mood, especially those who are into Japanese animation.