‘Weathering With You’ Is a Boring, Repetitive Cinematic Delight

‘Weathering With You’ Is a Boring, Repetitive Cinematic Delight
Photo Credit: Weathering With You (Tenki no Ko)

What you need to know

Makoto Shinkai's 'Weathering With You' is a cinematic delight that also disappoints.

Two years after releasing Your Name (2016), one of the highest-grossing anime films of all time, director Makoto Shinkai returns to cinema by recycling the same formula for box office success, but with less magic.

Shinkai’s new film, Weathering With You (Tenki no Ko), again tells the story of a teenage girl with mystical powers, this time grounded in a more familiar backdrop: a flooding Tokyo.

In the rainy Tokyo, a runaway teenage boy Hodaka (voiced by Kotaro Daigo) is offered a job at an obscure magazine run by Suga (Shun Oguri) after struggling to survive between meals. Through Hodaka's initial struggle, Shinkai portrays Tokyo as a harsh metropolis for the underprivileged and accentuates the city’s apathy with the never-ending bad weather.

Hodaka's first assignment is to look for the mythical “Sunshine Girl” around Tokyo and eventually finds a teenage girl, Hina (Nana Mori), who had kindly offered him a burger when he was homeless and hungry. With the “superpower” of being able to pray for temporary good weather, Hina soon explodes in popularity with Hodaka’s help.

But Hina confesses that she has been “connected to the sky” since she obtained her power: the more she prayed for sunshine, the more parts of her body became invisible. Before she vanishes, she asks Hodaka if he would like the rain to stop.

Photo Credit: Weathering With You (Tenki no Ko)

The lost-and-found climax in Weathering With You oddly resembles that of Your Name, except it’s executed with a more convoluted plot and sloppy attempts to interpret the human condition. While the storyline is mostly in a linear progression, it alludes to a dramatic revelation that never adds up to the built-up expectations. In portraying Hodaka and Hina as the unfortunate underage lovers who were misunderstood by adults, neither character is relatable due to overdramatized dialogue and emotional dissonance.

Clues are sprinkled throughout the story but fail to explain why Hodaka runs away from home, why Tokyo is raining non-stop, or why a magical light beam appears at the beginning of the film. Mysteries unresolved.

Yet another mystery is Hodaka’s earthshaking and all-conquering love for Hina. While it’s a recurring theme for Shinkai to portray a romance between young lovers who are separated by time or dimension, the love between Hodaka and Hina is unconvincing. Besides Hina offering a free burger, not much else points to how Hodaka falls so deeply in love.

Their love is adolescent, but not the kind that brings back fond memories or resonates, because modern romance, as we know it, never works by simply professing one’s love out loud against the raging rain. Perhaps this fantasy-driven, naive romance is all the more jarring with the film’s simultaneous attempt to discuss real issues like urban alienation and climate change.

Although the recycled plot disappoints, Shinkai still manages to impress with his awe-inspiring visuals made up of meticulous details ranging from the spectacle of the darkness-splitting sunlight, and a daunting view of Tokyo being semi-submerged, to an unassuming Tide detergent container that sits on the corner of a balcony.

The dazzling visuals are amplified with a well-paced soundtrack produced by Radwimps, a Japanese rock band that was also featured in Your Name. But in contrast to its predecessor, Weathering With You is a feel-good anime film that adds nothing new to the already stagnant Japanese cinema.

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TNL Editor: Daniel Kao (@thenewslensintl)

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