There’s something to be said about anime films that truly encapsulate what it means to be alive and surrounded by the beauty and magnificence that life has to offer.
Makoto Shinkai manages to capture this crucial element in almost all his films, particularly the box office smash hit, Your Name, which captivated audiences globally. Now, with his most recent film, Weathering With You, Shinkai not only manages to recreate the magic of Your Name but also does so in a way that is emotionally gratifying.
Weathering With You is set in a world where Japan is faced with torrential rain and bad weather. Hodaka Morishima, a high school runaway, moves to Tokyo in order to build a life for himself but meets several challenges until being hired by Keisuke Suga, who runs a publishing company specialising in urban legends. A chance encounter leads Hodaka to Hina Amano and discovers that she has the power to bring sunlight into the world for a period of time.
Hodaka encourages Hina to use her powers as a service and together with her younger brother, Nagi, the threesome begin to bring light to various people across Tokyo, for a price. As Hodaka and Hina begin to grow closer, a terrible truth is revealed.
The film is true to Shinkai’s animation and narrative style. The entire narrative is one that not only illustrates the magic of the world, but also connects each character together emotionally, providing a film that is resonates with audiences right down to their core. The narrative, though set in an alternate universe, is one that audiences can feel an emotional connection to, while feeling a kinship with the characters of the film.
The character development throughout the film is immediately apparent as we watch Hodaka, Hina, Nagi, Suga and several others grow and develop throughout the duration of the film. Hodaka, most importantly, changes dramatically from a young, childish boy, living in a fantasy world wherein he feels that running away to Tokyo makes him an adult, to a teenager who finally understands what it means to be a responsible adult. This is something that many will understand, given that we too have gone through similar discoveries within ourselves throughout our lifetime.
Hodaka’s realisation of his foolishness in looking for the easy way out and the price he paid to do so is one that can be easily identified. Similarly, Suga’s own behaviour can be seen to be quite commonplace for adults in today’s world. The connection between the pair and the realisations that they share more than just a living space provides a rather heartfelt moment that truly personifies the character bonds within the film.
Like Hodaka, Hina too sees the world through the eyes of a child trying to be an adult far too quickly, given her mother’s passing and the responsibility of looking after her little brother. The sacrifices she’s willing to make gives off a sense of the struggles that orphaned siblings face, especially in Japan where being independent is key to survival.
Though incredibly visually stunning, as with all of Shinkai’s works, the beauty in the film also stems from the incredible sense of self-awareness and realisation that comes from relying on others, and the fact that families may not always have to be blood-related. The many deeper messages within the film act as a moral story that prompts audiences to question their own sense of self and their place in the world.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Shinkai film if it didn’t have a heartwarming tale of love. Hodaka and Hina’s relationship, though young and inexperienced, shows the depth of their understanding and caring for one another, something that many teenage relationships in today’s world lack. The feeling of love, warmth and genuineness can be felt throughout the film, making it all the more enjoyable to experience. The enjoyment is further heightened by the several moments of humour dropped in at various points of the film, which entices laughs and smiles from those viewing the film.
This feeling is further amplified by the incredibly stunning world in which the characters live and the soothing soundtrack that accompany key scenes. The Tokyo that we see on screen is a marvel, despite the dull and gloomy weather. The art style depicts the city realistically, in a way that is almost lifelike, as if seeing the city in real life. The animation is, simply put, a wonderful delight and a sight to behold on screen. The soft lines and colour tones make Weathering With You visually appealing and a relaxing film to watch.
Like Your Name, the music in Weathering With You is provided for by Radwimps, who bring much softer and more emotional pieces of music to the film, once again building to a more emotional overall story that eases audiences in and out of the narrative.
Makoto Shinkai has certainly struck a powerful chord with his newest release. Weathering With You is a film that has all the right ingredients to succeed in the same way that Your Name had. With a much more poignant, emotionally charged story, there’s no doubt that viewers will be left with a feeling of awe, warmth and love upon watching this film.