A young high school student, Hodaka Morishima, is running away from school and is heading to Tokyo. His trip nearly ends in disaster as he his thrown off the ferry by abnormal, powerful rainstorms that have been pummelling Tokyo without end in an unprecedented fashion. Weathering With You wastes no time in offering a taste of the other-worldly situations that are to come.
Hodaka is saved by the somewhat seedy Keisuke Suga, who gives Hodoka his business card in case he ever needs it. Hodaka cannot work officially as he should be in school, so he soon uses the card and finds himself working for Keisuke and his niece Natsumi at their publishing company, which much like Keisuke, doesn’t look or feel professional and has no qualms about hiring a kid who legally shouldn’t be working at all.
They soon decide to investigate various urban legends relating to the unusual weather, and soon Hodaka and Natsumi venture out after learning of a fortune teller who may have information to offer. This psychic tells them that the constant storms are a result of ‘weather maidens’ who have an ability to control the weather.
This leads them to Hina Amano, a girl who Hodaka had recently met earlier working a really does possess this supernatural ability. She and Hodaka become friends and launch a business together, where Hina creates brief bouts of sunshine for those willing to pay. The animation, not for the first time, presents these scenes in a mesmerising fashion. Makoto Shinkai has successfully created his own unique style of animation, most of which he creates himself.
However, the constant use of her power proves to be risky, and the two decide to stop the business. Hina though decides to do it once more before abandoning her ability. However, her final creation of sunlight suddenly creates many fantastical events that affect both teenagers. These sequences are both hypnotising and emotionally poignant in their beauty.
Weathering With You further separate Shinkai from the initial and inevitable Studio Ghibli comparisons he heard earlier in his career, some even labelling him ‘The New Misaki’. Shinkai dismisses such comparisons; many of his films may contain moments of fantasy, but the directors keen eye allows these moments of colourful, surreal events to often play out in a very plain, almost depressing Japan, especially in this and his last film. Omitting the core of the plot of course, nothing special or interesting happens here: greys often fill the screen as the atypical weather causes constant rain.
Additionally, Hodaka’s uncomfortable workplace and the fact he is running away from something combine to contrast brilliantly against the dream-like visual feasts. We also quickly learn about and care for these characters, where the events of the final act subsequently truly tug at the proverbial heartstrings.
Shinkai has again looked toward the sky for an unconventional narrative, creating a simultaneously similar yet very different film when compared to Your Name, his immensely popular last film that became the highest grosssing anime film. Slight hints posit the possibility that the two take place in the same cinematic world, a thoughtful proposition if you carefully compare the similarities and differences.
However, despite the mastery behind the scenes, Weathering feels a very slight notch below Your Name, but it still remains a sensitive and unique film, one that rewards repeat viewings.
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