I would be lying if I didn’t admit my expectations coming into master animator Makoto Shinkai’s latest film Weathering with You were very high. I have loved all of his previous films, especially his last huge hit Your Name, and was highly anticipating his new film would be one of my favorites of the year. Unfortunately, it did not live up to those high expectations, but it is certainly worth watching for the animation alone.
Weathering with You tells the story of Hodaka, a 15-year-old runaway who has landed in Tokyo to try to make his dreams come true. While working for a Fagin-like boss, he meets a girl named Hina, who he later learns is a ‘sunshine girl’ or a woman who can control the weather. They eventually set up a business where people planning weddings or other events will pay to have Hina change the weather.
Unfortunately this power comes at a cost and, as Hina and Hodaka become closer, the sacrifice of being a sunshine girl becomes more costly and profound. The weather also becomes more erratic the more it is manipulated and controlled by man.
First, it must be acknowledged the animation in Weathering with You is absolutely stunning. Nobody uses light and nature in more awe-inspiring ways than Makoto Shinkai. Every scene with Hina manipulating nature is gorgeous. The rain and water droplets look so real, not in a CGI realism, but just the clarity of each drop makes you want to reach out and touch it. It’s so immersive and captivating.
The music by Japanese band RADWIMPS is also very effective at setting the tone and helping us get caught up in the moment with whatever is happening to Hina and Hodaka.
The problem with Weathering with You is the story and characters that feel surface-level. Unlike Your Name or Garden of Words where I felt so connected to the characters, Hina and Hodaka feel generic and are often telling us about their connection rather than us feeling it ourselves and naturally being caught up in the story. It all felt like a sappy young adult novel where the characters are desperately in love, but we don’t get to know them as real people with their own personalities and dreams.
The film also has a lot to say about climate change and the impact man has on the planet and, while that is admirable, I wish these themes had come naturally from the story rather than so blatantly stated as a message. It makes it feel a little preachy when the film has not earned the message with its story or character growth.
All that said, I still recommend watching Weathering with You. It has beautiful animation, engaging music, and a story with its heart in the right place. It may not be the masterpiece I wanted it to be, but it’s well worth a couple hours of your time.
Have you seen Weathering with You? Do you plan to? Let us know!
Edited by: Kelly Conley