Your Name. the anime directed by Makoto Shinkai, was a huge hit when it released in Japan in 2016, being the number one movie in Japan for nine weeks and earning around 190 million dollars. There was a lot of anticipation then for the director’s next movie, Weathering with You (Tenki no Ko in Japanese, meaning “Child of Weather”) which opened in Japan this past July. At the box office, the film did well and earned about 101 million dollars in its first three months. It’s doing well financially, but how about as a film?
Weathering with You starts with the main female character, Hina Amano, watching over her ill mother. It was raining heavily but out the window she spots a ray of sunshine casting its light on the top of an abandoned building. Seeing it as a sign, Hina ventures out to the spot, which appears to be a makeshift shrine, and prays for her mother’s health. She then finds herself floating among the clouds, with fish-like water formations swirling around her.
The story then shifts to runaway teen Hodaka Morishima, who was on a boat from his hometown to Tokyo. He was saved from falling overboard by a kind of grungy guy named Keisuke Suga. Figuring out that Hodaka was a runaway, Keisuke tells him to contact him if he needs help. Hodaka thinks that Keisuke is suspicious so decides not to take him up on his offer, to struggle basically on the streets, unable to find a legitimate job as a 15-year-old runaway. Things are looking bleak for Hodaka, though two important events happen during his time on the streets: a kind McDonalds worker gives him a hamburger for free seeing him coming in often with the same meager order; and after getting beaten up, he finds an abandoned gun in a knocked over trash can.
After suffering for a bit, Hodaka decides to seek out Keisuke to see what he can offer. Keisuke runs a writing/editing service associated with a popular magazine specializing in mysterious phenomena. Keisuke hires him out as a grunt worker, also providing food and shelter. In the course of searching for stories, comes the legend of the weather maidens, which becomes good fodder for stories since Tokyo has been experiencing months of rain to this point. While walking through town one day, Hodaka sees the girl who gave him charity at McDonalds seemingly being forced to be a hostess by a couple of thugs. Hodaka goes to try and save her and gets beat up by the thugs, until he pulls the gun he found out and fires out a shot. He then runs and takes the girl with him. It turns out though that she got fired from her job and was going to take the job the thugs were guiding her to.
The girl turns out to be the first character we saw, Hina Amano. It is revealed that she has a power to stop the rain in a limited area around her. The two eventually start their own business, hiring the girl out to bring sunshine for short amounts of time. It turns out that there is a price to her ability. She is becoming one with the clouds, and eventually will need to sacrifice herself to make the weather normal again. Eventually this leads to her being somewhat famous, and the characters’ backgrounds catching up to them. Hodaka is wanted for being a runaway and firing the gun (which was caught on a street camera), and Hina was underage living alone with her little brother after their mother died. Hodaka, Hina, and her brother Nagisa decide to run and try to live alone.
During their run however, Hina decides to sacrifice herself to return the weather to normal and disappearing in the process. Things fall apart for the others too, Hodaka being arrested and Nagisa taken into custody. Keisuke also got into trouble for harboring the shooting suspect, putting into jeopardy his custody of his little daughter. Things are looking bad for Hodoka but he was determined to try to see if he can save Hina, knowing about her previous journey to the clouds. Could he make his way there to bring her back?
Weathering with You had a lot to live up to with Your Name. having financial and critical success. Was it equal to better than the previous film? In my opinion, no. I found it to be less focused and the characters less compelling than Your Name. The story was a little more straightforward then Your Name. so if that is what your preference is, then maybe you might like this film better. If you liked Your Name. though, you might just notice a little cameo in this film.
On its own, I found the film to be a bit dreary, which makes sense for a film that focused on a Tokyo that has been experiencing rain for months. Some elements I found intrusive. All the real companies showing up in the movie might have brought some realism to the film set in modern day Tokyo, but I found myself being distracted by them. I also found the music (by Radwimps who also did songs for Your Name.) to be ill-fitting at times. Perhaps if Japanese is your native language it would not be oft-putting but having the words translated on screen with little music note icons took me out of the scene (though I appreciate knowing what the words mean, it sometimes seemed too on the nose).
I also found the characters to be a little hard to like. it’s a little difficult to understand why the characters do what they do, and though you can get information about the character through their actions, they don’t seem that deep.
The animation was of good quality, and the rain and water was animated interestingly, but it being so dreary most of the time took away some of the variety that the animation could have provided.
I don’t want it to sound like the movie was bad. It was a good movie, but it wasn’t a great movie. It’s worth a see, but don’t set your expectations sky high. I saw this movie as the ending film to the Hawaii Film Festival. For now the showings are for these types of special occasions. However GKIDS, who is distributing the film in the West, does have plans for fan screenings and a wider release mid-January 2020 so if you like animation, it might be worth your while to watch.