If you have read any of my past works here on The Outerhaven, you will know that I am a huge Makoto Shinkai fan. So much so that I took it upon myself to review every single piece of work he has done (barring 5-minute shorts or television commercials). I have dubbed it The Makoto Shinkai Series which I will link at the end of this review (even if the material is quite dated by now).
When I finished the series, he announced Kimi no Na wa. After its success, I knew that my job was not done when it came to Shinkai. Now, we have a brand-new full-length move from him, Tenki no Ko (Weathering With You) so it is time, once again, to expand my series and add another review to the pile!
The story of Weathering With You revolves around a boy named Hodaka who is tired of living the life he has now. He ends up running away and hopping on board a ship that’s headed straight for Tokyo. He encounters a storm and is almost sent overboard until he is saved by a man that he will come to know as Keisuke.
After arriving in Tokyo, Hodaka has no place to go, no money to spend, no job, nothing. He is, essentially for the lack of a better term, a street urchin. He stops in at a local McDonald’s (gotta love that product placement) where he is treated to a meal by a girl that he will come to know as Hina.
After work, Hina gets herself into a bit of a situation. Misunderstanding it, Hodaka sees what is happening and intervenes, coming to her rescue. The two of them end up becoming friends from there and that is when Hodaka realizes that there’s something special about Hina… she can control the rain! This is pretty important because it seems to never stop raining in Tokyo. This is where the movie takes a bit of a sci-fi twist but if you’ve seen any of Shinkai’s films, you know that sci-fit twists are not exactly rare in his storytelling.
Together, Hina and Hodaka grow closer together and decide to start using Hina’s powers to make a little bit of money but there’s just one little problem with doing that. Every time Hina uses her power, her contract with the spirits who gave her that power slowly gets fulfilled. I’m pretty sure you can guess what happens once her contract is completed.
The rest of the story kind of spoils things but, in essence, this is another typical Makoto Shinkai love story wrapped up in a bit of science fiction. I’m not going to compare the story’s quality to Your Name because everyone wants to do that. For some reason, people want to believe that just because Your Name was successful, it means that this film should be compared to it. Your Name is Your Name and Weathering With You is Weathering With You.
As far as a standalone story, it was pretty good but it wasn’t amazing. The ending was one that made sense but was also one that conveyed a LOT of selfishness on the main character’s part. I have seen memes on the internet that I can’t post here that fully encompasses what I’m talking about. It’s hard to be vague without spoiling anything but I’m happy and angry at the ending because I think Shinkai wrote himself into a corner where he had to go either one direction with it or the other. He chose one and sent the message that there is balance in all things. There wasn’t going to be a situation where everyone is going to be happy so I think he went for the best ‘worst’ scenario and it just felt awkward.
Be that as it may, I loved the way that the characters played off of one another. There were some nice light-hearted moments, some great moments of action and drama, and some nice continuity with the story elements throughout the film. It wasn’t Shinkai’s best offering from a story perspective but it certainly doesn’t mean it was bad.
Like any Shinkai film, there is only a handful of characters to get you through two hours of entertainment. Shinkai seems to always work best with a small cast and when movies are a one and done kind of deal, small casts are the best way to go (unless it’s based on an already established television anime with a huge cast like My Hero Academia, for example).
Hodaka is our first main protagonist and… much like most of Makoto Shinkai’s main protagonists, he’s kind of vanilla. I’ll admit that he had the courage to run away from home and start life over in Tokyo, though. He certainly has a bit of a backbone since he stood up for Hina and even went as far as he did to pursue her after certain events but outside of those moments, his personality is just there. He doesn’t really have much in the way of unique quirks about his personality or his character. If you’ve seen one teenage anime boy, then you’ve seen them all, Hodaka included.
I do like the fact that he was a bit stubborn in the beginning, though. It really showed that he wanted to make it in Tokyo on his own but even he had to admit that he needed to reach out to someone for help. That someone would end up being Keisuke who gave him his business card after being saved by him on the ship. Also… we actually got to learn why Hodaka kept saying “Ame (Rain)” over and over in the film’s trailer. He picks up a stray cat and shelters it from the rain… hence he named the cat Ame. I bring this up because Ame ends up having more personality than Hodaka. I mean, there’s nothing really wrong with flat characters but… I just wish Makoto Shinkai would take a chance and create a male lead with a bit more personality for once.
Aside from being able to control the rain, Hina was a pretty fun character. She seemed completely independent, always seemed upbeat no matter what the situation, and remained strong through periods of stress (such as possibly getting evicted from her home!) I really enjoyed her as a main character as she commanded the screen whenever she was on it. She definitely brought a presence to the story and it helped balance out the blandness of Hodaka. Funny how that works because it was the same way with Taki and Mitsuha in Your Name. Mitsuha was the one who brought all of the energy to the film and Hina is fulfilling that very same role here.
How she was able to control the rain was a little contrived, though. Simply walking up to a shrine on a rooftop and praying is a bit of a Japanese trope that’s overused and it’s no different here. The tradeoff of having this ability makes sense, though. I admit that I got a little misty-eyed when the consequences began to play out simply because you got attached to Hina as a character and even though they flat out told you what would happen when it did, you were still made to feel a certain way about it.
At first, he seems like some well-off businessman with a lot of money at the help of a major corporation. I mean, the drinking, the professional-looking business card, the initial impression, etc. all painted a picture of Keisuke being Hodaka’s golden ticket to an easy Tokyo Life.
The dude runs a small publishing company where he puts out stories surrounding the occult and guess who gets to be his new star reporter? Yep! Hodaka! Keisuke isn’t a bad guy, though. He has a daughter that he’s trying to desperately get the rights to see again. He wants to be a father figure in her life but things are a bit complicated for him. Throughout the film, certain things take place that might end up jeopardizing that chance and you get to see just how far Keisuke will go just to be a family again.
You really get a sense of pride when you see him but there are moments that make you want to punch him in the face… even if you know the reasons behind the things that he does. He brings out a duality of emotions with his character and, honestly, he was my favorite character in the movie because of it!
Those are your major players. There is also Natsuki, our really fun tomboy who also “works” for Keisuke, as well as Nagi who is Hina’s younger brother whose role looks like it was ripped straight out Koe no Katachi. They played pretty minor roles in the film but they did play those roles in key moments… which is why I’m leaving them out of the full description to avoid spoilers.
Art, Animation, and Sound
Do I really need to get into the art? It’s CoMix Wave Films, people. You know… the people who brought you 5 Wallpapers per Second?
Here… let’s just let these images do the talking for me.
Animation? It’s CoMix Wave Films, people…okay… well, I can’t really use that excuse for this one. The animation here was actually really crisp. Not 60fps buttery smooth crisp, but you could definitely tell it was a movie budget behind every keyframe. The CG used throughout the film mixed with the hi-res painted backgrounds gave us another captivating film to look at. By now, we all know what to expect from CoMix Wave Films and Makoto Shinkai. If the story ends up being terrible then, at the very least, you could pause a Shinkai film every 5 seconds and get a new desktop background.
Of course, RADWIMPS is back to provide the title tracks for the film. At this point, I think they should just be on Shinkai’s payroll. I think RADWIMPS work so well for Shinkai’s films as their sound just gives any of his works an iconic identity.
As I said, this wasn’t Shinkai’s best film but it was far from his worst. If I had to rank them in greatness, I would say the top three goes to:
1. 5 Centimeters per Second
2. Your Name
3. Weathering With You
I’m not going to rank all of the others because I’ll be here forever but I can definitely say those are my top three favorite Shinkai films This one fell behind the other two due to the fact that while the sci-fi nature of the film was cool, it was a bit too predictable as to what was going to happen. Plus, the ending was a bit contrived which made me sit here and scratch my head. With Your Name, the sci-fi twist kind of hit you out of nowhere. Sure, there were hints but you didn’t really see it coming.
Weathering With You suffered from a predictable plot but… it also was probably one of Shinkai’s most consistent films to date. The fact that he worked hard to make sure everything that presented itself in the film received a resolution was refreshing to see. It didn’t leave you with many questions other than how thirsty Hodaka must have been to do what he did.
All in all, in truly enjoyed Weathering With You and if you want a good movie to sit through, this would be one to do so. I would probably use this film as a bit of a gateway into the world of Makoto Shinkai as I think it can be used as a measuring stick. It’s kind of in the middle of all his films in terms of quality. I’m not saying his other films like Voices of a Distant Star or Children Who Chase Lost Voices were bad but when you compare them to his later works, you can definitely see where he could have done things better.
But that’s also the joy of “growing up” with a director. You see him apply those lessons to his next film and he just keeps getting better and better. I know that doesn’t make much sense because I ranked this film lower than two of his others but as I said, there were still some improvements while other areas kind of declined a bit. He’s searching for that happy balance and I’m confident that he will find it. It could be as soon as his next movie which he is already working on so I know that this isn’t the end of my Makoto Shinkai Series!
If you would like to check out the rest of the Makoto Shinkai Series, check them out below:
Part I: Dareka no Manazashi
Part II: The Garden of Words
Part III: ef – A Tale of Memories
Part IV: ef – A Tale of Melodies
Part V: 5 Centimeters per Second
Part VI: Voices of a Distant Star
Part VII: Children Who Chase Lost Voices
Part VIII: The Place Promised in Our Early Days
Part IX: She and Her Cat
Part X: Your Name
Tenki no Ko (Weathering With You)
Weathering With You takes a slice-of-life story about running away from home and mixes it with sci-fi to create a touching love story with a bit of a contrived ending. Still, even if the story did suffer in some places, it was Shinkai’s most consistent work to date!
- The artwork (duh)
- RADWIMPS doing the OST
- Hina’s character was fun
- Big Mac-kun
- The ending
- Hodaka felt flat as an MC
- Story was a little too predictable
- Overall Score