If there was any doubt left after Weathering With You’s initial release, Director Makoto Shinkai has established himself as one of Japanese Cinema’s greatest director’s of all time. 5 Centimeters Per Second put the former Video Game director on the map, after a flurry of unsuccessful visual novels for the PlayStation Portable. This of course was all due to technical limitations that stifled the visionary in delivering meaningful and compelling set pieces within the constraints of the given platform. Leaving the development scene and returning to cinema, the acclaim received was a resounding ovation for his following project The Garden of Words, earning multiple film festival accolades from the Kobe, Fantasia International and Stuttgart Festival. The director set a course for an artistic archetype that solidified his signature expression within Japanese animation.
Your Name continues to be labelled as Shinkai’s tour de force, earning $358USD million worldwide and becoming the highest-grossing anime and Japanese film of all time, surpassing legendary director Hayao Miyazaki’sSpirited Away. Shinkai noted that his aspirations for developing animation have come from aesthetics and weather patterns surrounding Tokyo, and how a wintery downpour mixed with a beautiful sunrise gives off an delectable presence that can only be experienced within the bustling cityscape. He notes ‘young love’ as an inspiration while never experiencing it himself as an adolescent, but does make an affirmation of the nuance being a memorable period for anyone; it’s transfixed within human nature to reminisce in sentimental moments.
Weathering With You (Tenki no Ko) works off all the enchanting formations established in Shinkai’s previous projects. The initial concept was certainly intriguing, as the Director had stated that the feature film had been primarily signified to embody a political statement towards President of the United States Donald Trump, and his disbelief in Global Warming. The act of a ‘human sacrifice’ to save mankind was a conceptual narrative the director deemed to be heroic, and would be the perfect example of restitution rather than blatant reimbursement. Much of the Shinkai’s inspiration lies within his personal library of mangaka collected since childhood, and tends to articulate his draft work before finalising ideas on paper taking an imaginative approach first and forming a complete concept.
Production and development on the title began in August of 2018, with Shinkai appointing Masayoshi Tanaka(Darling in the FranXX, Your Name.) as lead character designer, Atsushi Tamura(Eureka Seven, My Hero Academia) as lead animation director and Hiroshi Takiguchi(Fullmetal Alchemist, The Garden of Words) as lead art director. Shinkai appointed himself as lead screenwriter noting that the project had already been scripted a month prior to production. Like Your Name, Weathering With You utilised both hand drawn and CGI animation, mainly to depict rain, and certain dream state animation sequences to elevate and enhance its display and cinematography. It was stated that the film would attach itself to the Your Name universe, and canonically take place before the events of the prior film however would still be represented as a standalone story.
⚠ Main Plot (Warning: Spoilers)
Highschool freshman Hodaka Morishima leaves his hometown of Kozu-shima, a small island off the coast of mainland Japan in the Phillipine Sea. The youngster sets off for Tokyo in hopes of a new life but is caught in a wild rainstorm. While galivanting across the ship soaking in the storm, the seacraft is hit by a massive tidal wave causing the ferry momentarily capsizes with the teen plunging towards the deep-blue. Reaching for safety, Morishima is caught by an older gentlemen whom he thanks for saving him. The two pause while the storm abruptly clears out, with the youngster offering the gentlemen a meal from the ferry’s kitchen as a way of showing his gratitude towards his heroics. Arriving to Tokyo, the pair make small talk with the older gentlemen quizzing Hodaka on his plans which the teen keeps extremely vague, implying a local family visit.
Handing him a business card, and a firm pat on the back Keisuke Suga wishes Morishima luck and to contact the businessman if any trouble were to arise. After many attempts at finding a stable job, the teen becomes homeless living on the streets of Shinjuku. Queried by local officers, Morishima does his best to get away from the law enforcement and hide in a hallway of an apartment complex next to a gentlemen’s club. Abandoning his life on Kozu-shima had proved somewhat intimidating and overwhelming, yet the teen persists on staying in Tokyo, regardless of his living situation. After being bullied out of the complex, the teen stumbles upon a concealed handgun which he hides in his backpack. Surveying the McDonald’s restaurant – Yes, they actually have a McDonald’s in this film – he decides to look up the businessman’s home address as a last ditch effort to seek asylum in the capital city.
Shortly thereafter, Hodaka passes out and dreams of being in an undisclosed location cliffside in his old school uniform. He is suddenly awoken by a waitress who offers him a free burger in which he reluctantly accepts after she demands he take it. The young lady gazes back at the scruffy teen and gives a quick smile as she rushes back to her job. Jumping aboard a bus towards Suga’s abode, he begins to appreciate his surroundings more. Restless, Hodaka arrives to an eroding shack with a sign out front displaying “K&A Planning: Downstairs”, the same business on Suga’s card. Hodaka enters the seemingly abandoned workplace, riddled with half empty bottles of spirits laid across a bar in what seems to be an old clubhouse. Displaced by the absence of Suga, Morishima investigates the bar hoping to find the businessman, only to be confronted by a young woman. Welcoming the gazing stripling, she introduces herself as Natsume, a co-worker of Suga’s.
Natsume assumes Horishima to be hired help for their establishment, while querying him on his relationship with Suga. Arriving a short time later, Suga offers Hodaka a job at his firm introducing him to the company’s basics. K&A Planning are a publishing firm that writes pieces for Time Honoured Magazines, investigating urban legends. Suga tasks the newbie in interviewing locals about the “Girl who brings sunshine wherever she goes” or “Sunshine Girl” for short. Natsume shadows Horishima in interviewing a Psychic who reaffirms the pair of the mystical woman’s existence. After drafting his first piece, Suga hires Hodaka and invites him to stay with him at the agency where he would be fed and clothed while working the ongoing “Sunshine Girl” story.
After days of successful interviews, Hodaka returns to the same place where he once laid homeless only to spot the McDonald’s waitress walking alongside the shady club owner that had kicked him out of the complex. Listening in on their conversation, the club owner offers the underage woman a job at the gentlemen’s club. Seeming to force the youngster into the scummy establishment, Hodaka sprints towards the pair and takes hold of the startled girl as they expeditiously escape with the mobsters making haste towards the them. After catching the daring duo, the club owner begins to pummel Hodaka for squabbling his “transaction”. The teen remembers the piece he had been carrying since their initial meeting, and pulls the handgun on the mobster. At a potential stalemate, the teen fires a warning shot towards the devious goon with both the waitress and Hodaka making a quick getaway.
Immediate regret hits Hodaka, as the two argue over carrying a firearm. The young girl then reveals that she had just lost her job at the restaurant and was desperate for money. She queries him on why he had run away from home, in which he had no idea how she assumed his circumstances, then asks how he can enjoy Tokyo with all this rain about. Grabbing a hold of his hand, the pair scale the rickety stairs of the corroding skyscraper to its rooftop where the girl shows Hodaka its gorgeous view of the city. She tells the youngster to take notice of the weather as it’s about to clear up. Baffled by her prediction, Horishima gazes at the overcast grey sky. With beads streaming down their cheeks, the girl begins to pray with droplets evaporating and the sun breaking through the dreary atmosphere. It is then revealed that Hina Amano is the “Sunshine Girl”.
Commentary & Highlights (Warning: Minor Spoilers)
Have you ever welled up watching Japanese animation? There’s only a handful of films that have evoked such an emotion from myself, and yes this does include Shinkai’s Your Name, but I must say that it’s a rarity that it occurs. Weathering With You is such a captivating tale that places a stronghold upon your every emotion while experiencing its magnificence. A tidal wave of emotions encapsulate what is this year’s greatest Japanese Animated feature, and could possibly sit beside Your Name as its equal. Having the pleasure of experiencing the film’s theatrical release earlier this year, I anticipated astonishment and had been delivered an instant classic. I will admit, there were moments I discreetly wiped away some tears while watching its narrative unfold. Confounded by a brilliant demonstration in screenplay and aesthetic, it was hard not to be enraptured by its overall beauty.
Weathering With You facilitates picture perfect pacing, and personifies a gradual tale that grows on you rather than immediately placing you into its plot. A minor deviation from Your Name’s initial presentation, but a welcome one at that. There are subtle callbacks to Shinkai’s previous works such as 5 Centimetres per second, with environmental set pieces resembling the Director’s trademark architecture. Aesthetically, the title bears a striking resemblance to its direct predecessor, given that events occur within the same space. There is no doubt that there was intent in doing so, ultimately connecting Weathering With You and Your Name, while keeping the respective tales apart. Lens flares, extravagant lighting, CGI animation and the all too familiar soft glow expresses an enchanting observation surrounding the events of this delightful story.
Sequences that break-out story beats for rapid progression are accompanied by the returning RADWIMPS. After the successful partnership between the director and the Japanese Rock Band in Your Name, Shinkai had approached the musical group in hopes of scoring Weathering With You’s soundtrack, with their unique tunes that meld perfectly in each stunning scenario that unequivocally enamour you. I was held captive by subtle moments shown between Hodaka and Hina, backed by a contemporary melody with soft vocals that puts your mind at complete ease, while expeditiously turning up its tempo to 11 with rapid cinematics blasting through its story that just rock. Shinkai and RADWIMPS are a marriage made in Japanese animated heaven, and their demonstration delightfully proves to do no wrong.
With each character respectively carrying out their own resolve, while intertwining their destiny does make for an intriguing potboiler. Each protagonist leading a tale of survival, while making the most of what’s handed to them only keeps you motivated in this extraordinary narrative. Its spectacular surroundings that take Hodaka and Hina on adventures throughout the stormy season in Tokyo, Japan does its best in justifying the notion of acceptance. Whether that is life as it is, or it were. Mankind’s doing of Global Warming, and how one could sacrifice their worth for it all, and the relationships that are formed through sheer dependence that connects with us on a human level. The nuances of young love are subtly hinted, and there is an affinity that could be pure coincidence between the two pair’s from Shinkai’s recent and most previous workings, however it’s to be expected.
None the less, Weathering With You solidifies itself as another checkmark on the expanding library of esteemed artistry, that has blazoned brilliance directly from the innovative mind of Makoto Shinkai. It’s unbelievable that he continues to churn out such stupendous pieces of Feature length Japanese Animation, however at this point it’s hard to be surprised. Mounting a legacy for his future, and profoundly cementing his foundation laid with Your Name and Weathering With You has made the director a household name, and can proudly place himself alongside such high calibre names within the industry; Miyazaki, Takahata, Oshii, and Watanabe to name a few. Weathering With You is unmissable, and a must have for any Anime collector.
Suga’s the man! Such a laid back dude with a carefree approach to life, and while he may seem irresponsible on some occasions, he demonstrates his fatherly figure in admirable ways that remain firm with both Hodaka and Natsume.
Carry some pocket tissues, you’re going to need them. Possibly the worst time to have a shortage of any friendly wipes while viewing this spectacular piece of cinema. Weathering With You dares to tug on every heartstring and exonerate every salty discharge from sweat to tears.
Sits alongside Your Name as one of Shinkai’s greatest achievements. We’ll forever praise its predecessor, but Weathering With You is just as an equally astonishing accomplishment, and a welcome addition to Shinkai’s growing legacy.
Weathering With You – Madman Entertainment
WORTH THE WATCH?
VERDICT: HELL YES 🔥
Weathering with You is a 2019 Japanese animated romantic fantasy film written and directed by Makoto Shinkai. Set in Japan during a period of exceptionally rainy weather, the film tells the story of a high-school boy who runs away from his rural home to Tokyo and befriends an orphan girl who has the ability to manipulate the weather. The film was produced by Wakana Okamura and Kinue Itō, and the music was composed by Radwimps.
The film was released in Japan on July 19, 2019; the previous day, a novel adaptation written by Shinkai—one of his original works—was published. It was released in 140 countries throughout the world, earning over US$193.1 million worldwide. The film was selected as the Japanese entry for Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.