This year at Anime NYC, the closing film was also the East Coast premiere of Weathering With You, the latest from acclaimed director Makoto Shinkai, the man behind the global phenomenon Your Name. I was fortunate enough to attend the screening, and I was once again blown away by Shinkai’s skill at story-telling, at how he is able to weave the supernatural with the mundane.
Like Your Name, it is difficult to speak much about the plot of Weathering With You without revealing massive spoilers. So, at the risk of saying too much, here is a very basic overview. Weathering With You is the story of Hodaka, a high school boy who runs away from his tiny island home to Tokyo. There, he meets a young girl named Hina, who has the extraordinary ability to control the weather. Tokyo is besieged by continuous torrential rain, and the only breaks in the weather occur when Hina prays for the rain to stop. Anyone who knows anything about Shinikai’s work will know that it isn’t that simple.
This film is breathtaking and beautiful. It’s full of exquisite cinematography and gorgeous art – in particular, watch out for a firework sequence and, later, a focus on storm clouds with lightning. Those were two of my favorite scenes, visually. Shinkai’s films tend to convey a sense of longing, which is emphasized by the way the story is able to breathe. There is a lot of focus on rain – on clouds, on water drops, on ripples formed in puddles – and the weather serves to highlight the melancholy that follows around virtually every character.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t moments of levity, because there are. Hina’s younger brother Nagi is a delight and the source of many of the laughs. There is a lot of humor in the absurd, such as the first time Hina prays for sunshine with the help of Hodaka and Nagi. And those familiar with Shinkai’s previous works will be in for a treat; the audience at the screening went wild at two specific moments. I hesitate to say too much because I really don’t want to ruin the surprise, but you will know them when you see them.
Suffice it to say, you will probably get emotional whiplash from this movie. You will laugh out loud, and you will probably end up sobbing. Saying I cried doesn’t mean that much, since by now y’all should know that I cry at everything, but I can also say that the gentleman sitting beside me at least teared up – I definitely caught him wiping at his eyes – so you know to prepare for an emotional gut punch.
The soundtrack is once again by RADWIMPS, the same group that did the music for Your Name, and if you haven’t heard it yet, I recommend tracking it down and listening to it. (Don’t worry, it’s on Spotify.) The music elevates each scene, either by evoking a sense of whimsy or a feeling of despair and desperation. At this point I don’t know if I could watch a Shinkai film without them doing the soundtrack; I feel those two complement each other so well.
Weathering With You is an incredibly enjoyable viewing experience. It’s a feast for your eyes and ears, and it seems much shorter than its almost two-hour runtime. Many of the people at the screening felt that Shinkai outdid himself with this one. I don’t know if I would say that this movie is better than Your Name, but it is most assuredly on par with it. I don’t know if I could pick a favorite between the two of them. It’s been put forward for Oscar consideration, and I do hope it gets nominated because it deserves the recognition.
Weathering With You is playing in select theaters in the United States in January. If you are able to see it in theaters, I highly encourage you to do so. This is a film that is perhaps best experienced on the big screen.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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