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