• The Outside Story

Thoughts on Weathering With You

Updated: Jul 19, 2020

Written by Jonathan | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

A couple of years ago I saw a movie that changed my life. That movie was called Your Name, written and directed by a man named Makoto Shinkai. I hadn’t heard of him before but he had been making movies and short films already. Your Name was his big theatrical debut and he took the world by storm (ha!). Your Name dealt with the ideas of gender norms, fate, and love and told its story in such a way that was refreshing, funny, and heartwarming.

Shinkai’s sophomore theatrical debut, Weathering With You, released in the U.S. this past week and I was excited to be able to catch the movie with a friend. I did my absolute best to go in without any inkling of what the film was about. And even though I wasn’t blown away by the story, the film is a wonderful addition to the world of anime and fans of Shinkai will not be disappointed.

The first thought that I had about this film is that it is just as beautiful as Your Name is in terms of animation style. There’s not much distinction or uniqueness between Shinkai’s characters, unfortunately, but the backdrops and landscapes that we find ourselves in is phenomenal.

I am absolutely in love with the bright colors, use of light, and attention to detail. From the smallest flowers to every last rain drop, you can tell the animation team did not forget a single thing!

Second, I am so glad that RADWIMPS came back to do the soundtrack for this film because their work on the Your Name soundtrack was amazing. There were definitely moments where I felt like a motif felt too similar to a motif in Your Name. But like all great artists, RADWIMPS has a certain fingerprint in their music and that was apparent this time around. My favorite scene in the movie combines beautiful animation and amazing music together to create a spectacular theatrical experience and if I could watch that scene in 3D, I would do it again and again and again. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t link anything related to that scene. I want that scene to hold all of its magic for you. Once you see the film, let’s talk about it!

Speaking of spoilers, we’re definitely headed to spoiler territory moving forward. So if you care, please stop reading! If not, then continue on with me.

As I said earlier, there are some good things about the story but some parts of the story never reach their fullest potential. The clearest one is the main character, Hodaka Morishima’s, story arc. But before we dive in to that, I’m going to do a quick synopsis of the story.

Hodaka is a runaway high schooler who goes to Tokyo for a second chance at life. On the ferry ride, he almost gets knocked off the ferry due to a storm and a man named Suga saves him. Suga gives Hodaka his business card before they part ways. In Hodaka’s attempt to get a part time job, he reaches out to Suga and gets hired on as an office assistant to Suga’s “business” – an independent writing company that writes articles for trashy urban legends magazines. The urban legend that they’re currently investigating is a tale about weather girls, or young females who can wish bad weather away. After some dead end leads, he runs into Hina Amano and finds out that she is a weather girl.

Hina praying for the first time for good weather.

Together, Hina and Hodaka create a business where Hina uses her special powers to make it sunny for people who need it during the rainy summer season. From flea markets to funeral rites and even a fireworks festival, we see Hina making it sunny for a handful of people in Tokyo. During one of her jobs, she gets caught on camera and both Hina and Hodaka decide to take a break from their sunshine business. But, they soon discover that there are consequences to Hina using her powers – her body begins to become transparent and soon, she will be spirited away.

Suga and Hodaka’s co-worker, Natsumi, do more investigating for their weather girl story only to find out that every generation has a weather girl who eventually has to sacrifice herself in order for the weather to return back to normal. With the torrential rains and thunderstorms threatening Tokyo, Hina decides to sacrifice herself, trapping herself in the sky world. The weather becomes sunny like summer is supposed to be in Tokyo. Hodaka, however, refuses Hina’s decision to give in to her fate and travels to the sky world to find Hina, with the intention of bringing her back to earth. He finds her, brings her back, and the weather returns to uncontrollable rain.

Hodaka then returns to his hometown, graduates high school, and moves to Tokyo. He finds Suga, whose business is now a very legitimate company, and Suga encourages him to find Hina. Hodaka walks through some of the places that were special to him and Hina. He finds Hina and they reconcile.

Now, the story is not bad. The plot is actually quite good and has some very deep themes. For example the idea of choosing your own fate. Shinkai is known for this in his films though, with the idea that love and fate often cross each other. Star-crossed lovers are apparent in all of Shinkai’s work so it’s not surprising to see it here in Weathering With You. Another theme is youth homelessness which we find both Hodaka and Hina experiencing at one point in the film. They are painted as dangerous to society and as outcasts while they are homeless. And the last theme that I picked out was humanity’s connection to nature, in this case it was our connection to the weather. Time and time again, Hina is asked to make the rainy weather go away because as humans we depend so much on the sun to bring life and joy to our lives. With the rainy weather, Hodaka is unable to enjoy Tokyo to its fullest, ultimately leading Hina to sacrifice herself so that Hodaka and all of Tokyo can be happy again. This also speaks to a connection between humanity and climate change. We affect the way the weather is and the weather affects us. We have a deep relationship with nature and the weather and this movie makes that apparent.

The problem that I had was with the main character, Hodaka. His story still remains a mystery and for a main character, that’s a problem. Who are his parents? What made him run away? Why is he looking for a new start in Tokyo and then all of a sudden he’s okay with going home to finish high school? I saw this movie with a friend who pointed out that maybe Hodaka was running from an abusive household because when we first see Hodaka, he has bandages all over his face.

Hodaka in the rain on the ferry ride to Tokyo.

This would explain his relationship with Suga and the reactions that he has to the overbearing police officers who are trying to bring him back to his family. But in all of this, the theme of youth in our society is brought up again and again – no adults are truly willing to listen to him. They think they know what’s best, so they try to protect him by keeping him captive, instead of listening to him and asking him what he needs or wants.

Another problem is that we’ve already seen this story previously with Shinkai. The love story was inspirational but very predictable. I would’ve loved it if the story focused more on Hodaka and Hina as characters with the love story being somewhat on the side. But in this case, the love story was front and center as the movie’s climax was when Hodaka did everything he could to find Hina. I think it would’ve been stronger to see the climax being the sacrifice that Hina has to make or the internal conflict that Hodaka has to face because of the loss of Hina. It didn’t make much sense for the movie to climax towards their love story when I thought the film was about a boy who is trying to start a new life and happens upon a girl who can change the weather. Maybe someone can connect those strands for me.

Would I recommend this film? Most definitely! But I would wait to see it on streaming or rent it when it comes out. However, if you are a Makoto Shinkai fan, definitely make time to go see it in theaters. You won’t regret it when you see the best scene in the film on the big screen.