Makoto Shinkai Suffering From Success?

Weathering With You Review

Gabriel Heater, Sports Editor

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, apparently that phrase does not apply to movies as Weathering With You, Matoko Shinkai’s most recent film has failed to live up to its expectation, overshadowed by his most popular film, Your Name. Your Name became the third highest-grossing anime film behind other iconic films such as Spirited Away and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train. While “Weathering With You,” is a solid stand-alone movie, the great success of Your Name has cast a shadow over this film as the structure of these two movies are strangely similar. Despite the constant comparisons between these two films, Weathering With You still has many iconic components that end up making a great movie. 

Weathering With You is a romantic fantasy that follows Hodaka Morishima, a high schooler who ran away from his hometown in rural Japan and fled to Tokyo to escape his troubling family. While testing his luck in Tokyo, Hodaka becomes broke as finding a job becomes near impossible due to his age. Testing his luck Hodaka lands a job at a shady occult magazine publishing company where they primarily write about and hypothesize the cause of Tokyo’s unusual weather phenomenon. This film also follows Hina Amano who is revealed to be the prophesied sunshine girl who has the power to briefly suspend the rainy weather through prayers. Hodaka and Hina become magically attached as Hina’s miraculous feats are covered by the shady journalistic company which has boosted their popularity.

As a staple to most of Matoko Shinkai’s Weathering With You has phenomenal animation. While the film takes place in a gloomy atmosphere due to the constant rain and cloudy skies, the animation quality gives the whole film a sense of realism. The amount of detail present throughout the film is mind-boggling, even certain aspects such as the raindrops falling from the sky are remarkably detailed. Something as significant as the animation is typically taken for granted and one of my favorite characteristics of Matoko Shinkai’s works is the attention to detail the film displays. While all of Shinkai’s films have excellent animation, what sets Weathering With You apart from his other films is the contrast in the environment. While most of the film takes place in a gloomy, cold, and wet city, the contrast that is seen when the sun finally pierces through the clouds gives the setting a divine presence. With this being said the animation quality adds a layer of depth to the film as it has transcended several scenes throughout the film to be considered iconic through visual effects.

Weathering With You has a distinctively different tone than Shinkai’s other works as the film is given a more serious and dark vibe. Throughout the film, the plot immediately gives a more mature theme as characters such as Hodaka are faced with near-death experiences alongside his troubles with the local authorities. The film depicted these tones exceptionally well as there have been a few memorable scenes that have implemented these darker tones to create moments of suspense that have had me on the edge of my seat. While this approach seems unorthodox to Shinkai’s other works, I believe that this aspect has enhanced this film by creating another layer of depth. 

The way the characters are depicted in Weathering With You has also impressed me as it gives the film a sense of realism. Each of the main and other major side characters are given unique personalities that serve the purpose of enhancing the plot and adding depth to the film. The film is not afraid to point out the flaws of certain characters such as Hodaka’s foolishness and impulsive behavior and Keisuke Suga (CEO of the small journalistic company) is depicted to be a deadbeat person. I found it interesting that the film put such an emphasis on the flaws of these two characters as gives them a unique persona while making their existence throughout the film seem more genuine and life-like. In one of the most suspenseful scenes, we see Hodaka’s impulsive and foolish behavior as he risks his life and potentially his sanity to stand up for the girl he loves. While this might sound like a heroic feat at the end of the day Hodaka’s rash attempts to resolve the conflict between the Yakuza (a transnational organized crime syndicate) and Hina, has only escalated the situation and created further conflicts seen later throughout the film as Hodaka almost killed the Yakuza by firing a handgun he found previously. This moment connected with me because it reminds me of the times when I acted irresponsibly without thinking of the consequences that may result from a certain action. 

Similarly, Suga’s flaws are magnified as he is depicted to be irresponsible and deadbeat. While he might not seem like a significant character through the beginning of the film he is arguably my favorite character as he has gone through the most character development. As we see Suga grow as a person we see this connection between him and Hodaka form, similar to a father and son relationship. While we initially saw Suga as the last person to care about anyone, we soon start to see a shift as a bond form between Suga and Hodaka when paired with more background information.

Another thing I appreciated about the film is the cameo appearances of both Taki and Mitsuha who were the main characters of Shinkai’s previous film, Your Name. at first, their appearances had initially shocked me but it made me think of how the films are connected. Since we are shown that the two films are connected in the same universe driven by my hopes for Shinkai’s next film to potentially have something to do with this connection.

Lastly, Weathering With You had an enjoyable soundtrack. Similar to Your Name the Japanese rock band, the Radwimps, composed the musical score for Shinkai’s most recent film. The soundtrack has positively impacted the film as it adds another layer of depth as something as simple as the music was able to completely transform several scenes throughout the movie. The song ‘Great Escape (feat. Toko Miura)’ adds a soft uplifting vibe to the film as the beautiful voice of Toko Miura is complemented with the piano’s melody. Furthermore, the song, ‘Is There Still Anything That Love Can Do’ gives a similar softness but crescendos into a more uplifting melody. Lastly, the song ‘Voice of Wind’ stood out to me as it gave the film a happy-go-lucky feeling when the song was played as it had an uplifting beat paired with a catchy melody.

While Weathering With You has several components to make it a great stand-alone film, the extreme success of Shinkai’s previous film overshadows his latest film as it failed to meet the hype that the previous film built up for Weathering With You. A major problem that the film suffers from is the feeling of Deja Vu that is present when watching the film. This feeling is contributed to the film’s structure being eerily similar to Your Name. When breaking down the structure of Weathering With You’s plot certain sequences are almost indistinguishable as in both films the main characters become romantically connected through this magical phenomenon while a certain conflict arises that serves to move the plot forward. The only difference that we see in these certain plot points is that the sources that cause them are different. For example, while the red string of fate and the divine power of the sunshine girl is different, they are both magical phenomenons that connect the characters romantically. Also, the comet in Your Name serves the same purpose as the authorities pose in Weathering With You. to put it in simple terms the film Your Name does everything structure-wise that Weathering With You does but at a more elevated level. Shinkai’s previous film success spoiled his most recent one.

While Weathering With You is not as good as a film as Your Name, it is still one of my favorite anime films coming from Matako Shinkai. If you enjoyed the film Your Name, you will most likely enjoy Weathering With You as well. While I recommend this film for everyone to watch the film may not be appropriate for younger viewers as the film dives into deeper and darker subjects than what Shinkai usually displays in his films rated PG-13. Weathering With You may have been overshadowed but I believe that the film is great in its own unique way. After watching and analyzing the movie I would rate it a solid 8/10. Don’t forget to check out this film on Crunchyroll or wherever you stream anime.