Weathering With You (Tenki no Ko) is the newest film by director Makoto Shinkai. Shinkai is well-known for his 2016 film, Your Name (Kimi no Na wa), which is now the highest-grossing anime film of all time, beating out Ghibli contenders such as Spirited Away. So Weathering With You had a lot to live up to. And in my opinion, it did just that.
Weathering With You follows Hodaka, a 16-year-old runaway who has just arrived in Tokyo – which is plagued by torrential and unending rain. Living rough in the city is difficult, but he sticks it out, and is eventually hired as a live-in assistant for the editor of a questionable ‘occult’ magazine. He meets and befriends a 17-year-old girl called Hina, who appears to be able to control the weather. Together, they start a business where Tokyo citizens can pay a fee for clear skies for a short time.
This movie is quite heavily plot-driven, and sometimes jumps around to the point of confusion. At times, it felt a little rushed, but not in an unpleasant way. Although the story is set in Tokyo, the film doesn’t skimp on the worldbuilding. There is detail in how the constant rain affects the city, and it is a joy to watch. The animation in Shinkai’s films has always been top-notch, and this is no exception. Close-ups of individual raindrops falling and rippling on the ground are just mesmerising, and the wide-frame shots of the sky scenes look like paintings.
What I liked about this movie was that where Your Name contained a problem that was created by magic, Weathering With You tackled real-world problems with magic. Hina begins taking money for her powers so she can provide for herself and her younger brother, rather than taking a sketchy part-time job. It’s less dramatic than Your Name, but felt more relateable and real. I found myself rooting for the characters far earlier in the movie. The use of comedy also helped ground it, and it didn’t feel like it took itself as seriously as Shinkai’s previous works.
Weathering With You is definitely going on my recommendations list. It’s also on the top list of highest-grossing anime films at number six, and for good reason. It’s a powerful, beautiful, and grounded story which goes against the grain, fighting destiny instead of inanely following it. Like before, I’ll put some pictures below, and spoilers after that!
Spoilers ahead! Don’t read on if you think you’re going to watch this movie.
The ending of this film really struck me, and I liked the decision Shinkai made in having the problem not be magically solved at the end. Rather than accept the fate handed to Hina, the two of them realised that there are more important things than her sacrifice, and she gave up on her powers. Another film may have found a way of solving the rain problem, and I partly expected Hodaka to end up sacrificing himself in her place, but their decision to stick it out together was refreshing.
The ending also opens up debate about whether what they did was right. Most would agree that one life is worth sacrificing to save many others, but is it worth it to prevent rain? Should the Sunshine Girl give herself up just so people aren’t constantly rained on, and so life stays the same for the people of Tokyo? It introduces a moral argument, and it’s interesting to see how Tokyo evolved with the path they chose.