Weathering with You is a heartwarming and delicately animated escapist fantasy finds hope in hardscrabble realities.
Makoto Shinkai has already proved himself an idiosyncratic anime filmmaker whose singular universe is gradually shaped and expanded through each new work, his stories largely revolving around teenage couples and their coming of age. On both counts, Weathering with You is no exception. Here, Shinkai traces the heartwarming adolescent romance of Hodaka – runaway boy far from home – and Hina – a girl with an extraordinary power for changing the weather and bringing sunshine and joy into gloomy lives. Their paths collide twice in a damp, gray Tokyo, which is mysteriously and habitually soaked in heavy downpours – first, during a meet-cute moment at a restaurant, and then later, as Hodaka saves Hina from a nefarious club looking to intimidate her into red-light work. This dichotomy, situating the naïve, innocent teens within a self-serving and cruel adult underworld, enables Shinkai to affectingly address both hardscrabble realities and escapist fantasy, the mundane with the otherworldly. Visually, all frames in the film – from the cityscapes to the interiors, from characters to fabrics to technological gadgets – are rendered with an exemplary delicacy and finesse that effect an ethereal, dreamlike quality. Despite the catastrophic and even apocalyptic climate, Shinkai makes sure his world is shimmering in radiant colors, love and humanity shining through. This is, after all, a heartfelt tale about the struggle to find and hold love in a world of encroaching menace and hardship. Hodaka must find his beloved Hina and bring her back to life, not unlike an orphic journey, but here the pair escape the underworld through soaring, floating, and dancing freely in the skies above.
Published as part of January 2020’s Before We Vanish.