The weather can stay crazy. – Weathering with You
Makoto Shinkai has a way of blending fantasy into the modern world. In his highly-successful movie Your Name (2016) he bridges two body-swapping teenagers who are separated by time and distance. For his newest outing, Weathering with You (2019), Shinkai toys with the weather and how it affects us personally, and socially.
A visual beauty, as expected
Your Name is such a hard film to compare to, given its level of interconnectedness and emotion that is sewn into the story. Shinkai does what he can to replicate the process for his latest film, again involving two teenagers in Hodaka and Hina, but trails along the way trying to make ends meet.
It is still an admirable take given how devoted Shinkai is to making the fantastical part of the film – Hina’s ability to “control the weather” as a “sunshine girl” – fit in such a contemporary setting. Audiences accept this unbelievable control over the nature, and it plays well to the relationship between Hodaka and Hina.
The setting is also where Shinkai gets it right once more. Like in Your Name, he chooses modern Japan as his location – particularly Tokyo – and again he shows the beauty of anime as a visual medium. Landscape shots and skyline views could be mistaken for actual photos or real life, that’s how accurate and dedicated the animators went into setting Weathering with You.
Where Your Name showed the beauty of urban and rural Japan under the bright sun, Weathering with You levels it up by also showing Tokyo under gloomy downpours of rain (a familiar sight for any resident). Even the raindrops looked so realistic, just seeing the sun blazing through the clouds or rain falling on to everyone is as an orgasmic treat.
This visual enjoyment is only made better by the music of Radwimps, who Shinkai brought back from Your Name. The band’s music weaved into the film at just the right time, making each moment with Hodaka, Hina, and all other characters much more dramatic and heartfelt. One could just watch the film silently as the music plays, and it would still be as good.
A call to action
Beyond the visual treat the Shinkai offers to audiences, there is a hidden lesson in Weathering with You that hopefully reaches everyone – the battle towards climate change. A large portion of the film revolves around Hina (with Hodaka’s help) calling on the sun to shine for a short while amidst Tokyo’s rainy weather. Without giving any spoilers, this sets the film’s issues especially for the two leads.
On a collective level, Weathering with You shows that in one way or another, people’s actions and decisions can have an impact on the weather (and in turn, as the film says, the weather can affect people’s attitudes). While Hodaka and Hina have a personal bout with the weather’s changes, this issue can be expanded to how humans also affect where climate change will lead to.
During stormy days we wish for a little sunlight, while on hot and sweaty days we yearn for a bit of rain. Shinkai presents this dilemma as aggravated by climate change in Weathering with You, telling us somehow that we must start thinking clearly on what kind of future we want waiting for us.
In summary, Shinkai’s Weathering with You is a beautiful film – visually and audibly – and though not as a grand spectacle as Your Name, delivers on its measures to showcase the gorgeous artistry of anime and humanity’s impact toward the weather. We may not have sunshine girls or boys in real life, but one takeaway from the film is, we make the most of our time no matter the weather, rain or shine.
Weathering with You releases in the Philippines on August 28. Stills from IMDB.