Weathering With You Review

AKA: Tenki no Ko, Child of Weather
Genre: Fantasy/Romance/Drama
Year Released: 2019
Distributor: GKIDS/Shout Factory
Origin: Japan
Running Time: 112 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: PG-13
Related Films/Series: The Garden of Words, Your Name, Your Name (upcoming live action remake)
For Fans Of: Patema Inverted, The Place Promised In Our Early Days, Kanon, Air, Your Name, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Saikano, Rain Town
Notes:
-The Japanese version was used for this review.

-WARNING! Major spoilers will be discussed in this review! Read at your own peril.

-This review was written in October of 2020, by the way. Hello from the past!
Fun Facts:
-The movie screenplay, novel, and manga were released within days of each other. The novel actually came out a day before the movie debut and the manga was serialized six days later in Afternoon magazine. This wouldn’t be the first time a manga version of his works would be featured in that magazine because the adaptations of Voices of a Distant Star and The Place Promised In Our Early Days would be featured there, too.

-Hina is voiced by Nana Mori and it’s her second role ever in her filmography. Her debut role would be in The Anthem of the Heart and she was also featured in the live action movie remakes of Tokyo Ghoul S and Hell Girl.

-Music Fan Bonus: Keisuke Suga is actually named after singer Shikao Suga. Makoto Shinkai is a huge fan of his work, so he wanted to do a tribute by “borrowing” his last name. Suga’s music has been in multiple anime series as theme songs for projects such as the original Boogiepop Phantom, Honey and Clover, Letter Bee Reverse, and xxxHolic.

-Otaku Bonus: There are PreCure cosplayers (according to my research, they are dressed as Cure Black and Cure White from the first series) who are customers for the 100% Sunshine Girl service. I never thought I would see that happen in a Shinkai movie of all things and I’ve never seen anything from that magical girl franchise.

-In Japan, convenience store chain Lawson actually made a tea to promote Weathering With You called the Ameiro Jelly Tea as a reference to some of the surreal gelatinous rain substances that occur in the film.

-Why is Your Name in the related series section, you ask? Taki shows up to talk to Hodaka since his grandmother is a customer. Mistuha even makes a cameo as the jewelry store worker who sells Hodaka the ring. Notice how she still has that red ribbon in her hair.

-Hilarious in Hindsight: There’s a scene near the beginning where Hodaka stands in the rain while looking up (and surprisingly enamored). CUE SUPERCHIC[K] SONG! When he eventually lives with Keisuke and Natsumi, he’s surrounded by ice, snacks, and tons of beer. Hey, it’s just like when Shinji moved into Misato’s apartment in Evangelion, right? Tell me I’m not the only one who sees that! Also, there’s the romantic aspect because Hodaka does his best to love Hina in this movie. Yes, that was a cheesy anime pun, but come on. All the hardcore otaku were thinking about it at some point. Since Hina also works at a McDonald’s in the beginning of the film, one can say he’s in love with the McDonald’s girl. Oh, AMV Hell, how you exposed me to random songs and anime back in the day. There’s a scene where it snows in the summer and I’m sure the Digi-destined weren’t batting an eye as they have seen this before on that fateful day in the summer camp.

Makoto Shinkai, I finally reviewed your filmography yet again! I would’ve still completed it had you not have released a movie back in 2019, but that’s okay. What I didn’t realize is that I wouldn’t just re-complete his filmography, but this also adds a notch to my goals of reviewing something related to series and/or movies I’ve covered before which I realized when I saw Taki and Mitsuha from Your Name pop up in his latest film. This still boggles my mind with how incredibly popular Shinkai has become especially after Your Name broke the record for highest-grossing Japanese animated film. Part of me got leery seeing professional critics and random bloggers have heaped that film with praise. Sorry for sounding like an anime hipster again, but a good portion of these people haven’t followed him in his early animation days (pun intended) like I have when I saw Voices of a Distant Star a couple of years after it came out. When he did release his newest film, I was excited yet also cautious. As I said in my Your Name Review, I thought the movie was still a solid watch, but parts of it were overrated for me. Now I finally get a chance to check out the newest entry into Shinkai’s portfolio.

Will this be on par with his greatest work or is he starting to rest on his laurels? It’s time for me to weather this animated work.

Weathering With You takes place in the Summer of 2021. There’s a runaway sixteen year old boy named Hodaka Morishima who comes all the way from Kozu-shima to Tokyo via ferry. It gets hit by a major rainstorm, but is rescued by a man named Keisuke Suga. He mooches off the teen he rescued, but he gives him his business card. Hodaka makes it in Tokyo, but struggles finding a job and is running out of funds given how expensive it is to live in Japan’s capital. In the meantime, he eats at a local McDonald’s and manages to get a free Big Mac one day from one of the employees who looks to be close to his age. Hodaka eventually caves and contacts Mr. Suga for a job. What is his business? Running an occult/conspiracy theory magazine. Yeah, really. One story that has been covered frequently in said magazine as well as social media about a “sunshine girl”, a girl who has the ability to control the weather. Her abilities have taken notice because it’s been raining a ton over the Summer, but there have been moments where sunshine magically appears due to her. After catching some scoops, Hodaka sees the same McDonald’s worker being coerced by some pimps and stops them from doing anything with a gun he found in a bag after he was squatting one night. He finds out that girl is Hina Amano who’s been working multiple jobs to support her and her little brother Nagisa AKA Nagi. She also reveals herself to be the sunshine girl to his shock and surprise. They start hanging out together and comes up of a business idea where her powers would be monetized for people who need the sunshine on these constant cloudy and rainy days. Hina is eventually seen on TV after clearing the skies to make way for a fireworks festival, so business eventually becomes booming after everyone knows her face. At the same time, the cops are looking for Hodaka since he was reported missing from his parents as well as shooting a gun near one of the pimps. How will the 100% Sunshine Girl business keep at it with the fuzz coming for him as well as checking on Hina who’s been the main person in the household despite being just a teenager?

The movie looks awesome and it’s really boring talking about how good the animation of a Shinkai work is. The scenery is idyllic and the atmosphere is so beautiful as well as intimidating with the weather aspects going on. The rain effects were phenomenal with the transparency and tactile feel especially with the more overt fantasy elements. What else needs to be said? Shinkai typically outdoes himself movie by movie. The music handled by Radwimps again was certainly beautiful. There was a mix between ambient pieces, glitch works, and multiple insert songs which were wonderful. This is an improvement from their score from Your Name and even that was good in it’s own right. They certainly weren’t aping former collaborator Tenmon even with the piano pieces. The Japanese voice acting was spot on with the right emotions necessary for the highs and lows of the film. I thought there was a better balance between the more serious elements and the comedic ones. The parts that were comedic worked more often than not like Hodaka thinking that Natsumi was Keisuke’s mistress instead of his adult niece while being embarrassed to say that out loud or how Natsumi would use the cat to voice her feelings to her uncle to tell him to stop doing bad things. Nagi was also a funny character. I was thrown off with him looking like a younger Akira Toya from Hikaru no Go if he dyed his hair, but he was hilarious in giving the older Hodaka romantic advice despite being an elementary schooler and dressing up as a mascot for the 100% Sunshine Girl business much to his chagrin. Those were some good things that I’ve noticed in Shinkai’s latest film.

Weathering With You is a movie that should work for me since it has wonderful animation, music, voice acting (at least in the Japanese version), and some creative aspects with the weather.

However, I haven’t been as disappointed with a creator I’ve praised this much since I’ve reviewed RErideD.

Am I the only person who didn’t think Weathering With You was all that great? There were some gaping plot holes abound with the story. What is the status of Hina’s father? Why did Hodaka leave Kozu-shima to begin with? How healthy or unhealthy is the relationship between him and his family? How are him, Hina, and Nagi able to get into a love hotel and no one raises any eyebrows that three people who are clearly minors got a room to themselves? The movie doesn’t explain these things when they clearly should have done so. This was also way raunchier than anything like the fanservice with Natsumi, that pimp going after underage girls, or Keisuke’s nasty observation about how “there isn’t a difference between a sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen year old”. I know Hina calls him out to say there clearly is, but that was too cringey. Much like my criticisms of Your Name recycling stuff from his older movies, Weathering With You does this, but in lazier ways. I’m not talking about the motifs of distance between humans or the fact there’s a cat in it (cats are to Shinkai as doves are to John Woo which I’ve long accepted). You have rain playing a major part of the scenery and characters interacting to it much like The Garden of Words. The concept of supernatural threads is totally from Your Name even if this was a quasi-sequel to that movie. The cloud world looks like a combination of both Agarthas (the planet in Voices of a Distant Star and the dimension in Children Who Chase Lost Voices respectively) as well as that multiverse state that Sayuri’s consciousness is trapped in with The Place Promised In Our Early Days. Speaking of that movie, Weathering With You self-plagiarizes that film in the second half with the story beats and atmosphere. Girl ends up missing and trapped in another world that’s also a catalyst for something greater? Check. A guy who truly madly deeply loves her trying to rescue her no matter how bad the consequences could be for millions of people? Double check. Being encouraged to save said girl from another dimension by someone who has issues with the boy? Triple check. The real kicker is that this weather-based ecosystem is literally in a giant cumulonimbus beyond the clouds. You know, like the original Japanese title of that movie being Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho (Beyond the Clouds, the Promised Place). Shoot, Hodaka even begs God to save Hina much like Hiroki did for Sayuri right before saving her. You’re not even trying, Makoto Shinkai! As much as people seem to be apathetic or straight crap on Shinkai’s first full-length movie nowadays, I can promise you the ending in The Place Promised was SO much better than this one. Ready for a gigaton spoiler? At least Tokyo doesn’t resemble New York City in A. I.: Artificial Intelligence like the ending of Weathering With You (the fridge horror of so many unseen dead bodies from the weather is way more disturbing than it had any right to be). The fact that the main message was “everything’s going to be alright” feels way too shallow and tacky.

Despite coming out in 2019, Weathering With You hasn’t aged well for reasons no one expected while making it. The movie takes place in 2021 for most of the duration and obviously coronavirus happened before. It’s hard watching it in 2020 and beyond while thinking “Why isn’t anyone wearing a mask or social distancing?”. The biggest dated aspect for me was the police subplot. Besides the cops being inept at their jobs especially with one of them getting punked by Nagi and his friends at the children’s counseling center, it got hard to watch when it came to Hodaka and the gun. I get that Japan has one of the strictest gun laws in the world as well as having one of the lowest firearm crimes as well, but they were too soft on him when he literally points that gun at the officers and at Keisuke. Hodaka, I don’t know what god you worship, but you better thank him or her for your Japanese privilege when it comes to your ethnic stock as well as your nationality. People in America have died for far less as well as being unarmed especially if they’re Black! I know it’s all fiction, but I dare anyone to look at that scene and ask themselves if this would’ve played out the same way if he was a different race and in America. The whole world knows about how bad police brutality is after the death of George Floyd and so many more as well as Jacob Blake being paralyzed. His punishment? Getting probation until graduating high school. That’s a load of crap since there are people who have served jail time for weed possession, stealing hedge clippers, or being falsely accused of rape like when I reviewed The Central Park Five documentary. It was hard for me to watch those scenes and to NOT think about those real life cases.

If I had watched Weathering With You back in 2019 or at the very least before May of 2020, I probably would’ve thought a bit more highly of this film. There are certainly worthy things about this animated movie which is to be expected from the mind of Makoto Shinkai. The animation is certainly breathtaking, the soundtrack is heartwarming, and the voice acting is great. However, there are giant plot holes, rampant product placement, and some parts that are way more disturbing in hindsight (not just the aftermath of Hina coming back to earth). I was frustrated with Shinkai ripping off himself with his work in The Place Promised In Our Early Days and other films but just replacing a multiverse aspect with a character who might as well be the Japanese teenage version of Ororo Munroe if you really think about it. The overall message of everything being alright despite the chaos felt so hollow. Kurogane Communication did a much better job with that kind of optimism among dystopian situations and that involved a series where the main character had reasons to believe that she could be the only surviving human on the planet (saying nothing that some of the locales looked like Tokyo in the ending of Weathering With You). Shinkai, you’re a household name in the world of Japanese animation now. I know you’re better than this. You can still be artsy and not pander to Hollywood or at least mainstream anime tropes like this. Much like The Garden of Words, I feel like I’m at a table for one with my thoughts on his filmography.

Adjustable Point Scores:
-Add 1-3 points if you’re a Makoto Shinkai fan.
-Add 1-2 points if you love high-quality animation.
-Subtract 1-2 points if you want as few plot holes as possible.
-Subtract 1 point if you’re not a fan of romantic animated works.

Pros:
-Phenomenal animation quality
-Wonderful soundtrack and sound design
-Good voice acting

Cons:
-Glaringly obvious plot holes
-Shinkai recycling stuff from his older movies even to the point of self-plagiarism
-Hodaka’s subplot with the cops is VERY problematic and harsher in hindsight

Final Score: 5/10 points

Content Advisory: I think Weathering With You might be the most “offensive” Shinkai movie from a content advisory standpoint. Okay, the PG-13 rating is an accurate one, but there is more adult content compared to most if not all of his previous works. There’s some violence and blood although it’s nowhere near as gory as Voices of a Distant Star or one of the monster killing scenes in Children Who Chase Lost Voices. The sexuality aspects are more obvious with Natsuki wearing skimpy outfits and there are fanservice gags of Hodaka looking at her breasts. One scene has Hina slowly disappearing after using her weather-altering powers too much and she takes her robe off to reveal a giant transparent cavity where her chest would be. One minor character is a pimp who tries to solicit Hina to be a call girl and later in the film, he freaks out when the cops find him by claiming he swears not knowing he had underage girls in his employ. There’s some strong language which was surprising for a Shinkai work as well as adult dialogue going on. Keisuke offers Hodaka some beer despite the fact that he’s only sixteen years old which is beyond irresponsible. There’s also a lot of fridge horror with something that happens in Tokyo where there is no way Japan’s largest city and capital would look like that and NOT have several fatalities with the climate.

-Curtis Monroe

All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Weathering With You is property of GKIDS and Shouts Factory. The poster is from DVD Release Dates and is property of GKIDS and Shout Factory.

12 comments

  1. I don’t know. I think people have been pretty down on Weathering with You, especially in comparison with your name. I personally like it, but I saw it before Your Name and in the theater.

    The most interesting element for me is the ending. I mean the second act turn puts the main heroine in an almost Christ-like position, but the resolution of that ends up being that people should pay for their sins. I’m not sure if that was intentional or not, but it has stuck with me since I watched it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Iniksbane! Long time, no talk!

      Is that so? I’ve seen mostly positive reviews even though some of them come from the mindset of “It’s good, but not as good as Your Name.” if that makes sense. Maybe I’m jaded because I knew who Shinkai was over a decade before Your Name came out, but I think he’s starting to rehash his own works. I understand if you felt that way with the timing of when you saw it.

      Very good interpretation about Hina in the 2nd act. I could see the Christ-figure aspects with everyone wanting her to use the weather powers, but the potential of her being sacrificed appears. I also heard about the movie being some social commentary on climate change with Shinkai which does makes sense given the events of the ending.

      Like

  2. I know what you mean about the different tone here due to a few of the themes and settings, it’s almost approaching grimy at times, in a way (not counting the visuals of course).

    And the product placement, I forgot about that, yeah – wow.

    I remember thinking how much care went into the shot of that burger and it seemed exactly like an ad. I know anime shows and films often spend a lot of (welcome) time and detail on food, but doing it for a fast-food chain felt a bit different. (It also felt different to the commercial involvement in ‘Someone’s Gaze’.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, the timing of these world events really hasn’t helped and we’re now in the same year where this movie takes place in. The visuals are still beautiful as to be expected, but real life stuff really changes the dynamics of multiple scenes.

      In hindsight, I should’ve went into more detail about the crazy amounts of product placement. I even took notes on this stuff. McDonald’s was the most obvious given Hina’s job early in the film, but I remember seeing Pepsi, Lipton ice tea, multiple Japanese brands I can’t think of at the top of my head, and one of the hotels they try to go to is a Seibu hotel. That would be like someone shoehorning a Holiday Inn or Hilton branch in the movie. The only reason I’ve heard of that company is because that hotel chain owns the Saitama Seibu Lions baseball team. That’s the same team that used Kimba as their mascot since the 70s, by the way.

      It really makes me wonder with the burger. I guess after Comix Wave made Flavors of Youth, they really wanted to animate food again. Even if that other anime movie felt like food porn at times with how detailed everything was, at least I can say it didn’t feel like product placement and those situations took place in fictional restaurants. That’s also a great contrast with Someone’s Gaze/Dareka no Manazashi which was made to be an anime ad for a real estate company, that felt less like an advertisement than multiple scenes in Weathering With You when you consider how that McDonald’s was literally a basis for a plot point with Hina.

      It feel so bizarre because I’ve never seen this much product placement in a Shinkai work before. I’ve seen mainstream movies that aren’t period pieces with less product placement. Having a live action movie with some logos or slogans in a background is one thing especially if things are filmed on location, but an animated work makes things more jarring in my opinion because the creators have the time, effort, and resources to put these products into the stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, it was the one I thought it would be.

    And yeah, the world situation really has changed that aspect of the film. When seeing it earlier this year, the experience was quite a bit different for sure. But now, can’t imagine watching it right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I figured you would guess that right. Hahaha!

      Sure thing. The COVID stuff was the most obvious and now with everyone literally living in the same year as when this movie takes place really isn’t helping. Thanks for understanding. I know it’s not Shinkai’s fault in that regard, but all these events since 2020 really hampered my viewing experience.

      Like

  4. This is a great, considerate review! And I really love your “fun facts” section – always interesting! I am somehow always uneasy when directors simulate to the letter their own previous work. There is little creativity and inspiration in this approach. Of course, it is different when they are just passionate about a particular look or style or theme and want to include it in numerous animations or films. It is probably a little irrelevant here too, but, as an example, I thought Darren Aronofsky ripped off very blatantly and shockingly his whole filmography to make Mother! (2017) – it surprised me to no end what he did with this film. A “cocktail” of Black Swan, Requiem for A Dream and The Fountain. In terms of creativity, I am sure we haven’t even seen the best of Makoto Shinkai yet and he will continue to surprise us with great work in future!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for checking out my review! I really like the “Fun Facts” section since I really like researching what I watch and enjoy sharing some of this trivia and knowledge with my readers.

      Weathering With You is certainly the most beautiful-looking movie he’s made so far even though it’s not saying much since he’s always amazing in that field. It did disappoint me with him rehashing plot points and themes. Watching this with COVID glasses REALLY hasn’t helped since it’s 2021 and the characters should have masks on and social distancing. I have no issues with certain motifs being reused like Shinkai having at least one cat around, the concept of distance (metaphorical and/or literal) between characters, or having phenomenal scenery, but he also came off as pandering to more mainstream anime tropes.

      I haven’t seen Mother, but thanks for letting me know about that. Aronofsky should really know better.

      I do hope to see more quality works from Shinkai. Seeing another movie of his with the same quality as The Place Promised In the Early Days would be amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I think there has been some contradictory information in the media about Shinkai’s Weathering With You and his next project, which he already says will hopefully match his “best” work – Your Name, and how it all ties together with the pandemic we are experiencing now. I think I read some news where they say there is going to be an “edit” to Shinkai’s Weathering With You in light of the more serious turns in the pandemic and the edit is probably be just some message at the start. I really don’t know, but it is curious, nevertheless.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Okay. I wasn’t aware of that with any future projects with him. It certainly would be a timely move addressing the pandemic situation even if it’s a disclaimer before the beginning of the movie. I can relate to that move when it comes to fiction.

        Liked by 1 person

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