“Weathering With You” Shines Brightly


“Weathering With You,” Director Makoto Shinaki’s newest feature film, is visually-pleasing and deftly constructed. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Director Makoto Shinkai’s (known for the film “Your Name”) newest animated film, “Weathering with You,” follows 16-year-old Hodaka (Kotaro Daigo), who runs away from home to travel to Tokyo. His struggle to make a living is both alleviated and complicated when he meets Hina (Nana Mori), a girl who can make a bout of apparently endless rain stop by praying.

The film is first and foremost a love story between Hina and Hodaka, which is more than convincing. Thankfully, the film does more than just sell the viewer on their relationship. There’s a lot more going on in “Weathering with You” than the average rom-com in terms of visuals as well as writing.

“Weathering with You” has an out-there premise and an at times questionable narrative. Thankfully, all of this is carried, if not elevated, by the presentation. There are some unwieldy fairy tale and soap opera elements, but those form a nice contrast with the sense of authenticity present throughout the film.

No matter how fantastic the plot of “Weathering with You” gets, the actual setting feels believable. You would never mistake the film for being realistic, but the characters, dialogue and situations feel genuine even at their strangest. Even with the supernatural elements, the film still resonates in a way few others manage to.

Gorgeous animation also sells the experience. It allows the fantastic elements to properly unfold and the more down-to-earth elements are just as vividly represented. The film convincingly captures the way people move and act while still maintaining a unique art style.

“Weathering with You” effortlessly bridges the mundane and the supernatural in a way that live-action films almost never do.

Visual spectacle aside, “Weathering with You” has a likable, well-developed cast of characters with quality performances to match the writing. While the story might not be the cleverest or most innovative, it’s communicated in an artful, at times surprisingly understated way and acted out by a cast that makes it easy to get invested in even the more contrived parts.

The film goes to some surprisingly dark places and ends on a bittersweet note. The story covers a respectable range of emotions and has a strong sense of humor that rarely misfires.

“Weathering with You” plays a balancing act, managing to present some heavy moments without ever feeling overly bleak. There’s a strong emotional core that pulls everything together.

All the laughter and tears in “Weathering with You” carry an overt message, though they lead to some more uncertain themes. Tokyo is presented as both an enchanting place of tradition and a relentless hub of commerce. Every conflict in the film stems from struggling to make ends meet in an uncaring, bureaucratic world.

It would be easy to take this as an anti-capitalistic message if not for the egregious product placement throughout “Weathering with You.” Most of the anime I watch takes place in deep space, but even then, I don’t think it’s normal to have so many recognizable brands pushed so aggressively.

The film’s ending faces some similar contradictions. “Weathering with You” sets up a conflict with well-defined consequences and sticks to them. The characters ultimately make a decision that’s as selfish as it is completely understandable.

On one hand, it’s refreshing to see a film with such a confrontational yet uncertain ending. The characters made a difficult choice, and that means they don’t get a nice, clean resolution. However, there’s also an allusion to the climate crisis, which further complicates matters. The ending and the characters’ reactions definitely leave mixed feelings, to the point where it’s hard to figure out what “Weathering with You” is specifically trying to say.

It’s entirely possible the audience is just supposed to appreciate a story about a boy falling in love with a girl who can make the sun shine. However, intentionally or not, the film offers a difficult, uncertain message alongside the escapist elements.

Movies, especially fantastic ones, are supposed to push boundaries in a constructive way. Blockbusters that commit to this are rare and even more so nowadays. Taking that into account, “Weathering with You” is an enjoyable experience specifically because it does more than just entertain.