Cast: Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, Shun Oguri, Tsubasa Honda
Director: Makoto Shinkai
In a month where it feels like all we get is generic nonsense being released, it makes that one of the best movies of the month comes from outside the country. I don’t have a vast knowledge of animated movies from Japan, but if Weathering with You is any indication of what their standard looks like, then they clearly have a good thing going. Between the beautiful animation and the message of the story, Weathering with You has all of the makings of an elite animated movie and manages to bring a sense of joy to a month with nothing spectacular going on.
The film follows Hodaka Morishima (voiced by Daigo), a teenager who runs away from home and travels to Tokyo where he battles homelessness and starvation before eventually finding a job as a writer. When he meets Hina Amano (voiced Mori), a girl who can control the weather, the two team up to start a business that stops the rains over the city and gives people the weather they’ve been looking for. While this starts off as a great opportunity for the two of them, things quickly take a turn as people begin to close in on them and secrets are revealed about Hina that but everything they’ve created in jeopardy. One of things that stands the most about Weathering with You is just how clear and precise all of the animation looks. Specifically whenever we see any sort of rain appear, there are distinguishing features that make all of these scenes unique. Between the downpours over the city and the moments of light rain that show us the individual drops, Weathering with You makes the most of its 112 minute runtime and creates an environment that completely immerses the audience. You can tell this is true right from the beginning when we see the scale of Tokyo on full display and just how alone and hopeless Hodaka feels in his new city. Outside of that, the message that surrounds the animation does a phenomenal job of connecting the characters to their world and understanding the pros and cons of their actions. For a group of teenagers, Weather with You introduces a heavy level of issues right from the beginning and doesn’t let up at all. You can argue that the characters don’t handle these moments with the highest level of maturity, but at the same time I wouldn’t expect teenagers to think things through to the best of their abilities. While this may create an unnecessary level of drama and instability for the movie, it makes sense in the context that’s provided for these characters. Ultimately Weathering with You handles this with a level of grace and care that I rarely see from animated movies wherever they originate from. It’s not often that I see a movie that I can give genuine praise to this early in the year like Weathering with You, but it’s a true testament that this movie can accomplish everything it sets out to and can introduce a whole new world to anyone not familiar with this culture.
Overall, Weathering with You realistically has a chance at ending up as one of the best animated movies of the year, and with 11 months left that’s really saying something. Even though this movie won’t be eligible for any major awards next year, the level of success associated with Weathering with You doesn’t need to be rewarded with mainstream recognition. Those who are familiar with similar types of movies will certainly enjoy Weathering with You and anybody new will be inspired to explore what other movies are out there that they will enjoy.
Overall Score: 8/10