Intro

When I first heard about Weathering With You, I didn’t expect another Makoto Shinkai film following the masterpiece Your Name shortly after. But of course, I was immediately interested and excited to watch another touching romantic story with magnificent scenery.
Sadly, it failed to live up to my expectations and while Your Name took the world by storm, this was barely a drizzle.

Story

Similar to Your Name, Weathering With You centres around traditional Japanese beliefs, which I found quite appealing, but its delivery was poorly executed. I just felt like things, like the ‘Sunshine Girl’s legend’, were either badly told or logic was clearly missing. I was surprised when the characters decided to make this “gift” a product to market. I thought they were going to approach it in a slightly more spiritual way.

I want to start with the introduction of one of the main characters, Hodaka, a 16-year-old boy who runs away from his parents’ house to try to make a living in Tokyo. From there, it was a downward spiral. We never even got to know the real reasons why Hodaka left home. After wandering the streets, the boy finds a gun, keeps it, points it at people and shoots, not just once, but twice. Never have I heard of guns and Tokyo being in one place! As he’s a runaway, I can understand the need to portray the protagonist getting into trouble, but it was overkill.

The script is adapted for Hodaka’s convenience and this looks too unrealistic. The kid was too lucky in everything. There’s also a lot of unnecessary drama surrounding his life that wasn’t explained that well. His relationship with Hina wasn’t explored fully, I didn’t understand why he risked everything and went so far as to sink all of Tokyo underwater (literally) to fulfil his whim.

Hodaka never opened up or delved into his life with Hina, rather he avoided the subject. With his parents reporting Hodaka missing and no justifications from his side, I was left with the idea that he’s just a rebellious boy. This made me feel less empathetic towards him. While we learnt more about Hina’s story, it’s hard to empathise with her either. While she is a girl who lost her mother and must now care for her and her younger brother, her altruism becomes tiresome.

I suppose it is a nice sentiment to have someone tell you that they don’t care about the rest of the world as long as the two of them are together. But then I remember that these are two teenagers who barely knew each other. While there’s certainly the presence of “romance” in the film, it was shadowed by Hodaka’s overdramatic attitude. While teen love stories generally have a sense of impulsivity, Weathering With You portrayed that even more, along with lacking good character development and/or plot.

I wasn’t disappointed by the ending, but I didn’t like it either. I thought it was good that it wasn’t a completely happy ending, i.e., the protagonists found a way to end the rain without having to sacrifice anyone. I liked the permanence of the bad consequences they faced, making that aspect of the story more believable. Portraying the way citizens were beginning to adapt to living in Tokyo’s new permanent climate was also a nice touch.

Characters

I found the cameo of the Your Name couple, Mitsuha and Taki, amusing, although I only recognised Taki when I saw him. The characters have great voice acting but not much to say about the design. I think this is what Makoto Shinkai has us used to: plain design characters in contrast with the super-detailed background. Although the fact that the locations are hyper-realistic (inspired by real life locations) might have something to do with it.

Hodaka: the trigger-happy boy, emotionally unstable and unsure of himself. We are shown that Hodaka is someone who is very shy and blushes at the idea of liking someone. Yet, he had no qualms about sleeping in the same hotel bed with Hina.

Hina: the girl is the representation of all that is good in life, pure, innocent, kind-hearted, altruistic, and with a big-ass responsibility. This combination makes her totally unrealistic and unrelatable.

Nagi: Hina’s younger brother who is supposed to be a schoolboy but has the mentality of a 20-year-old man, oh and by the way, Hodaka himself calls him “senpai”.

Suga: So like, I was obsessed by the fact he’s voiced by Shun Oguri. Probably one of the other selling points of the film. And while Suga is not exempt from being another character with ambiguous behaviour, he has the most relatable backstory.

Art and animation

Of course, I loved the art and was amazed by the quality of the animation. I greatly appreciate the camera angles and the exquisiteness with which the landscapes were portrayed. The sunset scene where Hina goes to clear the sky for the fireworks was the only thing that moved me to tears in the film (with the help of the soundtrack). But as mentioned earlier, the emphasis was really on the scenery, as the character designs aren’t something that stood out much.

If there’s one thing that doesn’t fail in Weathering With You, it’s the art design and animation.

Soundtrack

The songs and background music, along with the art, are the only pillars of Weathering with You. However, the romantic ballads don’t seem to deserve the place they were placed in. It’s as if the producers put them in to thrill us with scenes that normally aren’t thrilling at all. This seems a bit forced, but still, the songs are pleasant to listen to.

Final Score

I think it is difficult to give this film a high score. The plot holes, lack of development of the main characters and their relationships, and the poor execution in general just don’t allow me to. However, the beautiful scenery and atmospheric music are unquestionably wonderful. For this, I give Weathering with You a score of 4/10.

Author bio

RV is the otaku behind Raving Otaku, where she shares somewhat thoughtful anime reviews (or rants) and recommendations.

5 thoughts

  1. Personally, I loved a few moments in this movie, like when the legend is revealed, part of the gun standoff scene, and the abstract parts of the falling scene. But I 100% agree and was disappointed that “the script is adapted for Hodaka’s convenience”. A line from another review I read went something like “Hina lost her mother and is working to support her family using a superpower that comes with a fatal responsibility, and he’s the protagonist?” I don’t think Hodaka’s perspective was a terrible choice, but his character development was not connected closely enough to his ability to support Hina in realizing and accepting that she doesn’t want to be a hero.

    You mentioned Hina’s superpower being turned into a job, and to be honest, I actually liked that part! A good job doesn’t demand heroism or literal self-sacrifice. But there’s no implication that Hina gets that in the climax. Hina just stops being a hero the minute Hodaka tells her “I don’t care if we never see sunshine again”. We get no evidence of her developing a sense of self-worth, just so Hodaka can be the guy who delivers the line–which he could have delivered just as well before his character arc. (I agree it’s a nice consolation that we get to see the consequences of Hina’s decision in the conclusion.)

    Thank you for the review!

  2. I actually liked the romance between Hina and Hodaka more than Taki and Mitsuha, but even then that isn’t enough to save the film in its entirety. It suffers from the same plot/different characters syndrome as with Your Name, and felt like an utterly cheap copy of it too, I agree.

    I don’t know why as well but up until the last half it was really depressing to see the whole rain motif taking over, as I am a person who enjoys summer and detests any season that has to do with greater precipitation levels.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I do agree with the rain motif, I’m a summer person myself, so the ending was kinda sad in that aspect.

  3. I adore this movie! As much or maybe more than Your Name. And I actually agree with most of your criticisms too… Haha I think I just loved the animation and music and heart, despite the lack of depth. That and this was one of the last movies I saw in theaters, in early Jan 2020, before everything changed… so maybe that impacts my loving view as well 🥰😔

    Thanks for your review!

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      Yeah, the animation and music are faultless! Your Name was the one I watched in the theatres so that may have caused my bias too ^^;;

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