by Kelly Chia, Features Editor
Having watched Makoto Shinkai’s last acclaimed movie, Your Name, I was excited to see Weathering with You. Both the soundtrack and the animation of Your Name were breathtaking, and the story was so captivating that I chose to watch it a few times to really absorb what it made me feel. It was as emotionally complicated as it was beautiful.
With those in mind, I was prepared for how stunning this film would be, but I didn’t realize how nostalgic it would make me feel. The film’s premise is that a boy in high school, Hodaka Morishima, runs away from home to Tokyo. Hodaka barely manages to scrape by until he meets Hina Amano, who is able to change the weather, a so-called “sunshine girl,” and offers sunshine to a constantly drenched Tokyo.
We are no strangers to rain in Vancouver, obviously, so it was somewhat funny to see weather warnings one after the other for constant, heavy rain. Still, Shinkai makes a particular choice in how he depicts weather in the film. In an interview after the Cineplex showing of the film, Shinkay says that he had “depicted the weather in [his] previous films, but [he] depicted it as something beautiful and emotional [ . . . ] contrary to [his] previous films, this film depicts the weather as something aggressive, and a bit violent.”
Having the rain appear aggressively and at points of intensity in the film made me appreciate the calm of Hina’s gift as she reigns in the sunshine for the Tokyo citizens that seek it. Shinkai hits the warm note within our hearts perfectly when we see a burst of sunshine after a long season of rain. Weather is a driving point in this film, and it’s a poignant one. It definitely made me empathize with Hodaka’s admiration and budding love for Hina.
I knew that Shinkai’s films focused on romantic relationships; Your Name showed romance slowly building up during an impossible love story. For this film, I’d say that Hina and Hodaka’s bond grows extremely quickly. This made them easier for me to relate to — Hina and Hodaka’s relationship felt extremely juvenile, but also really pure. Their love is high stakes, but their relationship still grows naturally, which makes it easy to understand. At some point, I’ve definitely felt that all-consuming infatuation that makes you feel like you can do anything for your person, and that made the film hit even closer to home.
Another point I have to praise the film for is how well-integrated the soundtrack is. The music by RADWIMPS flows perfectly from one scene to another and drives the full emotion of the scene. For example, at the film’s climax, I remember being moved to tears with the hopeful reprise of the lyrics, “I need to know / Is there still anything love can do?” I find that sometimes with films in different languages, there aren’t always subtitles for the songs. I appreciated that in this case, they were subtitled, as they really completed each scene.
At the end of the day, despite the somewhat fantastical premise, Weathering With You felt incredibly familiar and human. The animation alone makes this film a worthwhile watch, but the story makes the often hasty, awkward adolescence something to feel proud of.