Weathering with You is the latest film by acclaimed anime film director Makoto Shinkai. The film centres around a schoolboy named Hodaka (Kotaro Daigo) who has run away from home to go and live in Tokyo. He initially struggles in the city but his life and luck change when he befriends a young girl named Hina (Nana Mori), whom Hodaka soon discovers has the power to manipulate the weather. Tokyo is going through a period of constant rain, causing Hina and Hodaka to set up a business where people hire Hina to bring some sunshine for a brief period of time. The two are extremely successful, but their happiness doesn’t last for long as complications due to Hina’s powers soon follow.
Just like Shinkai’s previous film, Your Name, Weathering with You is visually stunning. The animation detail is incredible, especially the weather effects like rain droplets. The visuals, as well as being vibrant, are extremely creative, with all sorts of wonderful and weird creatures and shapes. The character design is also praiseworthy, clearly conveying the characteristics of each character at a glance. It is well worth seeing on the big screen rather than waiting for home release.
The characters are all likeable, with Shun Oguri’s character Keisuke Suga standing out as a particular favourite. Anime tends to only focus on young characters as young people are the main target audience, so it was refreshing to see an older character having a side plot throughout the entire movie. It’s very easy to sympathise with Suga, who has a painful backstory and continues to struggle through the film, but despite this remains a fundamentally good person.
However, the film is far from flawless. The plot is quite similar to Your Name and the story structure is near identical, just more convoluted. The second act, in particular, drags a bit. The characters are more difficult to connect with than in Shinkai’s last movie, as at times they seemed a bit clichéd. In terms of the romance-fantasy genre, it doesn’t really do anything new and at times lacked the subtlety which made Your Name so emotionally effective. The exposition in the film was a bit heavy-handed in places, as a lot of it was done through Hodaka’s inner monologue rather than through good storytelling.
The soundtrack, whilst beautiful and uplifting, doesn’t reach the levels of the soundtrack for Your Name. Japanese rock-band Radwimps’ soundtrack in Shinkai’s last movie was one of the things which made it so special; anyone who has it seen it knows the emotional impact of the movie when the visuals and the soundtrack combine, and Weathering with You didn’t replicate this sensation as successfully.
Yet overall, the film is very enjoyable and is well worth going to see if you are an anime fan, especially if you enjoy this particular genre of it. Whatever Shinkai decides to make next, Weathering with You’s quality is sure to promise another hit. One can only hope he makes something slightly more original next time.
Image: Movie DB
Arthur Barratt is a Screen Contributor.
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