Movie Review: Weathering with You

Morishima Hodaka is a 16-year-old high school student fleeing his remote island home. Amano Hina is an orphaned girl with the power to change the weather. Destiny brings them together in a Tokyo deluged in rain. But will destiny tear them apart?

Weathering with You has all the elements of a classic Shinkai Makoto anime: gorgeous visuals, romance, personal drama, and supernatural elements. Doubtlessly it will be compared to Shinkai’s previous work, Your Name.

Does it live up to expectations?

The visuals of Weathering with You is its strongest point. Every shot is a work of art, combining clearly-drawn animated characters with lush background design. The art team did a fantastic job in reproducing some of Tokyo’s iconic neighborhoods and landmarks; I recognized more than a few of them from my honeymoon in Japan. The superb artwork leads to genuinely uplifting moments when the rain clears and the sun shines down.

Like Your Name, Weathering with You is a character-focused romance story with a supernatural twist. The plot is driven primarily by character interactions and development. Don’t expect a clear plot, however; for most of  the film, it is a simple slice-of-life tale, following the blossoming relationship between Hodaka and Hina.

Weathering with You interweaves Shinto beliefs with contemporary Japan, presenting it in a naturalistic way, then pointing to forces and realms far outside human comprehension. The movie hints at water-like creatures from the sky, somehow linked to Amano’s power. A character even speculates at the existence of another world up in the clouds. Just enough is seen to highlight the supernatural elements and create a sense of wonder — and later, terror. Like the characters, the viewer is left with vague speculations and little information about the nature of these entities, or why they came to Earth. In this sense, it is reminiscent of weird tales from the pulp era — only enough is revealed to the viewer to drive the plot, keeping the story going. I would have liked to see more information about these creatures, but by keeping them mysterious the movie emphasizes the otherworldly nature of these entities — and, later, the cost of using Hina’s weather-changing power.

In addition to the main story, Weathering with You presents a scathing indictment of adults: many adult characters exploit the Hodaka and Hina in some way, taking full advantage of their status as minors. The police don’t care about Morishima’s or Amano’s circumstances — they don’t even follow up on a yakuza’s confession that a woman who worked at his club was underage — only that they have violated the law and must be caught. This emphasizes the relationship between Hodaka and Hina: they are the only people they can trust.

For all that, Weathering with You is not Your Name. There are cameos by characters from Your Name, but it is fundamentally a very different story.

Weathering with You is a straightforward romance story with supernatural twist. It’s a more personal story, with lower stakes, less drama, fewer emotional hooks. It’s more low-key than Your Name, highlighting the visuals, the budding romance, and the quiet desperation and resilience of two souls trying to find their way in a society that either exploits them or treats them as criminals.

As a standalone movie, Weathering with You makes for a wonderful young adult romance film. Coming off the back of Your Name, it feels a bit of a letdown. Watch the movie with no expectations, soak in the visuals, and you’ll be most satisfied.

Shinto beliefs and romance are also important components of my latest series, DUNGEON SAMURAI, an isekai fantasy dungeon crawler featuring Japanese samurai torn out of their time. Check it out here!

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Movie Review: Weathering with You
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