Film Review: Weathering With You

Weathering With You (Tenki no Ko, which translates literally to “Child of Weather”) is a charming Japanese fantasy-romance animation about a struggling high-school runaway who meets a young girl with the ability to make the sun shine by praying.

Director: Makoto Shinkai Starring: Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, Shun Oguri, Tsubasa Honda

Language: Japanese with English subtitles

Weathering With You is the latest film from Makoto Shinkai – the acclaimed director of Your Name, which tells the story of a high school girl in rural Japan and a high school boy in Tokyo who swap bodies – and in a way feels very much a complementary piece to his earlier film.

The film centres on high-school student, Hodaka Morishima, as he escapes his remote-island home and travels to Tokyo with little planning, financial support, or guidance. After spending a few nights evading Tokyo police as an unaccompanied minor and struggling to get by with very little money, he spends three days in a McDonald’s and is given the best-looking Big Mac ever seen on screen. His sympathetic helper is later revealed to be Hina Amano, a young woman living alone with her younger brother following the passing of their mother, who possesses the ability to clear the endless Tokyo rain momentarily through the power of prayer.

Hodaka and Hina occupy much of the film’s narrative, capturing the innocence of their youth and young love effectively as they – along with Hina’s younger brother in costume – use Hina’s fantastical ability to start a business for hilariously meagre amounts of money. There’s a painful sense of humility and restraint in their characters, which seemingly reflects the immense pain both hide beneath their outwardly positive demeanours.

The initial and surrounding sub-story of Weathering With You involves a grown man and woman – Keisuke and Natsumi – who offer Hodaka work at their humble magazine on superstitions and provide him with food and a place to stay. Hodaka writes, cleans the house, and accompanies Natsumi on her scooter to interview people about occultish events and superstitions. Through this, he learns of ‘The Sunshine Girl’, and subsequently meets Hina.

Fans of anime will recognise the voices of Keisuke and Natsumi (Shun Oguri and Tsubasa Honda) from Space Captain Harlock and the live-action adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist respectively, while first-time actor Kotaro Daigo captures the melodrama of Hodaka’s character with a style authentic to this type of anime story. Tokyo Ghoul (live-action) actress, Nana Mori, presents Hina’s ‘Type-B Tsundere’ nature brilliantly, with enough chemistry between the two leads to propel the film through the polarising fantasy moments that may not resonate with Western audiences.

With a runtime of nearly two hours, Weathering With You does well not to drag itself out unnecessarily, with a few exceptional pieces of trippy, distorted music by Radwimps balancing the sweet message of the film against those previously mentioned moments that will seem jarring to anyone unfamiliar with this type of anime. Although far from perfect, Weathering With You is a refreshing example of enjoyable sweetheart/heartbreak anime produced outside of Studio Ghibli, and a pleasantly surprising companion piece to Shinkai’s Your Name.

Oxford Lamoureaux