WEATHERING WITH YOU: FILM REVIEW
After a stressful and disheartening week, I was searching for a film that could suck me into another world and let me escape from my reality for a little bit. I came across Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering With You, which I heard about through my family, who gave me rave reviews of Shinkai’s previously critically acclaimed film, Your Name. Keep in mind, I don’t watch much anime, and have never watched Your Name. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised at how delightful Weathering With You was to consume, as I found myself engrossed in the intricately designed visuals of the film and enthralling fictional narrative that transcended both time and physical boundaries.
Weathering With You is set in modern Tokyo, and revolves around teenagers Hodaka (Kotaro Daigo) and Hina (Nana Mori). In this version of modern Tokyo, it rains every day and has been doing so for a very long time. Hodaka runs away from home and finds refuge in the home of Keisuke Suga (Lee Pace), who saved Hodaka during a rainstorm on his way to Tokyo. Hodaka meets Hina during one of her shifts at a McDonalds, which is one of the two jobs she takes on to get by. The other is working at clubs to please old men. However, Hina reveals to Hodaka that she has a special power: she can clear up any patch of sky for a short period of time. She is thereby known as the “sunshine girl.” Hina and Hodaka decide to make a business out of her power, taking requests from residents all over the city who need good weather. Eventually, the reach of Hina’s powers spiral out of control.
As someone who doesn’t really watch anime, I was simply mesmerized by the graphics of this film, whether it was the intricately detailed landscapes of Tokyo through a God's-eye-view, or the bold depth of images as small as the pitter-patter of rain. When the rain pours down on screen, each droplet is illuminated with such clarity that you can distinguish between every drop. As Hina clears the overcast sky with her magical powers, the clouds slowly part to bring a golden light onto the city, along with a warm glow that can be felt through the screen. Shinkai’s emphasis on painting the Earth as an incredibly beautiful and untouchable place contributes to the thesis of the film, which revolves around the urgency of protecting our home at all costs.
Although I was less interested in the love story between Hodaka and Hina, their relationship brings an innocent and youthful spirit to the film. Hodaka and Hina make the other less alone, as finding each other allows them to repurpose their life. Much like the adults in our world, those in the film seem relatively unfazed by Tokyo’s climate change crisis. It is the youth, Hodaka and Hina, who are most passionate about saving it. It’s the energy of young people that drives the film as well as our future.
Weathering with You uses fantasy storytelling to push the viewer to realize how connected our body and spirits are to the weather. Even if you don’t have seasonal depression, the weather will inevitably affect you in some way or another. To think that we can separate ourselves from the Earth we inhabit is absolutely absurd. When Hina clears the sky, the mood in Tokyo shifts. When it rains for years nonstop, the city starts sinking underwater, as its metropolitan figure becomes unrecognizable. Although there is a balance to be struck between rain and sunshine, the scale will heavily tip if we continue to passively ignore the ongoing climate crisis that has been affecting our planet for years. Shinkai makes this message clear, as the saviors of the climate crisis in his world are two passionate teenagers, one of which possesses weather-shifting powers.
Weathering with You succeeds in effectively using a seemingly innocent and unassuming narrative to bring light to the climate change crisis for people of all ages, as it pulls at the emotional strings that bond us to this Earth, attaching us to characters who are dedicated to putting in the work to save us from ourselves.