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Tenki no Ko
Weathering with You is the latest film to come out from director Makoto Shinkai. The film focuses on a teen runaway named Hodaka Morishima arriving in Tokyo and struggling to get by on his own until he becomes part of a shady occult magazine. Through the magazine, he comes to learn of a story involving a girl that has the power to bring about the sun through prayer, something considered miraculous with the heavy rainfall that comes down upon the city daily. Hodaka comes to discover this story is true upon encountering a girl named Hina Amano who has this power. The two then decided to start a business together where they use Hina's powers to bring about sunny weather to others, unaware of the serious consequences that Hina's power and their presence in Tokyo brings for the both of them.|
Before I get into my thoughts on this film's storytelling, I'll at least give my praises to Weathering With You's visuals. Shinkai films have been well-known for having gorgeous scenic shots and highly-fluid animation and this film continues this trend with the highly-detailed urban environment of Tokyo and the great amount of detail put into depicting the rainfall and changes in weather brought about by Hina's abilities. Other animated highlights include some chase scenes where Hodaka and Hina are fleeing police later in the film and some shots of Hina flying in the sky as an effect of the use of her powers. In terms of animation, Weathering With You is easily one of the more visually impressive anime titles I've seen in recent years.
But when it comes to storytelling, Weathering with You does suffer from the same stumbling with its plot that a number of Shinkai's prior films suffer having a long-distance relationship plot with supernatural elements involved in it. It looked like Shinkai was attempting to depict an "individual against society" bent with portraying the developments faced by its major characters in Tokyo. The problem with going for this story direction is that the film doesn't provide enough fleshing out of a number of its major characters to explore why they are going about in this direction and making a good number of them come off looking selfish and misguided with their choices and justifications as a result, with Hina's circumstances being the only one fleshed out enough where there would be justification for her actions. The police who are involved in going after Hodaka and Hina later in the film are meant to depicted as the antagonists within the context of the film's story direction for getting in the way of the couple's decision to live on their own, in spite of the fact both are still seen as minors within society and the police are only going about with their actions for their safety and well-being, especially with the believable hardships that the two are confronted with struggling on their own within Tokyo. Granted, Japanese society does have its real-life issues to confront due to its group-focused mindset and there are anime titles that believably explore elements of this to confront the flaws of Japan's group-based mindset. But Weathering with You doesn't convincingly confront these issues due to the romantic melodrama and idealist bent it tries pushing for with Hina and Hodaka's relationship.
The storytelling problems also carry over with Hina's abilities to affect the weather. It is suggested that these abilities are connected to the regular heavy rainfall affecting Japan and that Hina's use of her powers carry a heavy price for their regular use. Weathering with You explores this in its second half as things start to get heavy with the drama in the film's plot. While Hina resigns herself to the cost that comes with using her abilities, Hodaka attempts to defy this fate in spite of the potentially disastrous consequences this would have for Tokyo as consequence of Hodaka and Hina's use of her abilities. The film tries to depict Hodaka's decision as a positive one for this character, in spite of the disaster that befalls Tokyo and is probably the worst element of the film's storytelling I found with Weathering with You's take on confronting individual over societal wants.
In short, Weathering with You is yet another romantic drama from Makoto Shinkai to be rather underwhelming due to its shoddy handling of its storytelling, moral, and supernatural elements. While dabbling into confronting the flaws of Japan's group-based society is an admirable moral that a number of anime have done well with exploring, this film is rather sloppy in its exploration of this due to the majority of its characters not having enough fleshing out to make their actions to defy society seem justifiable and make them largely come off as selfish or misguided in a superficial attempt at melodrama. This is easily one of the weakest offerings from Shinkai I've seen to date thanks to how flawed its dabbling into its "individual over society" moral comes off.
Last updated Saturday, January 16 2021. Created Saturday, January 16 2021.