Makoto Shinkai and CoMix Wave Films’ last film, Your Name, is widely considered as one of the best animated films of all time and won several awards, including Best Animated Feature Film at the 42nd Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards. Your Name went on to become one of the highest-grossing animated films and Japanese films of all time. Creating a follow-up to such a masterpiece was no easy task, but I believe that Shinkai has done it again.
Weathering With You is the story of Hodaka Morishima, a high school freshman who runs away from home to live in Tokyo where he meets a girl, Hina Amano, who can control the weather. Together they try to bring sunshine back to the rain filled skies of Tokyo. Shinkai loves fantasy, and Weathering With You is his most fantastical film yet.
If you have seen any of Shinkai’s other films, then you know just how beautiful the animation is. The way light in particular is used to contrast the grey, dullness of the constant rain allows for a great visual metaphor as Hina both literally and figuratively lights up Hodaka’s world. The locations within the are film more visually stunning as the film goes on, adding color, particularly bright greens and blues, where there was none before. The scene where Hina first sees the shrine in particular is fantastic, with one clear bright light within the darkness created by the storm overhead.
A movie with a character that can change the weather with her prayers may seem too fantastical of an idea on paper, but the world this film inhabits feels real. This is due in part to the characters. Hodaka wants to find his place in the world. Hina wants to escape her own destiny. Mr. Suga just wants to repair his family. The conflict each major character faces is relatable.
RADWIMPS return to score Weathering With You, and it is not quite as memorable as Your Name’s but still fantastic. The score particularly shines when Hina accepts her role as the Sunshine Girl. The main theme is grand, much like the themes of the movie, but makes the rest of the score seem a bit shallow in contrast. The original songs, however, are a different story.
While the transition from the score to the lyrical compositions can sometimes feel a abrupt at first, the fluent change in pacing makes up for it. Voice of Wind represents the great change in Hodaka’s life once he finds his place in Tokyo. Celebration celebrates Hina bringing light back to Tokyo as the Sunshine Girl. However, We’ll Be Alright is the true standout song from the movie, bringing together the score and the RADWIMPS’ musical style in a beautiful combination perfectly representing the relationship between the two leads.
I saw the film dubbed in English, so I will only be able to comment on the English voice acting. With that said, Stephanie Sheh and Michael Sinterniklaas did a terrific job as the ADR directors, as each voice fit perfectly. The entire cast was fantastic, although Lee Pace was easily the stand-out, voicing Mr. Suga.
The writing can be a bit loose sometimes, focusing on grander ideas and commentaries than story, allowing for individual moments are granted precedence over plot and story. This allows for emotional moments to hit hard, but the film can drag a bit between them.
All in all, Weathering With You is a beautifully animated emotional experience. While not quite as brilliant as Your Name, it still represents how much Shinkai has grown as a director since 5 Centimeters Per Second. I am excited to see what he and CoMix Wave cook up next.