It remains visually and aurally stimulating, but Makoto Shinkai’s new work doesn’t really fly off the ground, and ultimately succumbs to perfunctory storytelling and a so-so emotional payoff.
Dir. Makoto Shinkai
2019 | Japan | Animation/Drama/Fantasy | 111 mins | 1.85:1 | Japanese
PG (passed clean)
Cast: Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, Yûki Kaji
Plot: A high-school boy who has run away to Tokyo befriends a girl who appears to be able to manipulate the weather.
Awards: Official Selection (Toronto)
International Sales: Toho
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream
(Reviewed in theatres)
Weathering with You is distinctively a work by Makoto Shinkai. In fact, from the first frame to last, his visual style is unmistakable—polished, clean and very modern. His collaboration with composer Radwimps also yields a familiar sound—raindrop-style piano-playing accompanied by groovy songs and aural effects.
I’m sure die-hard fans will be quite happy to embrace this new work, but while it remains visually and aurally stimulating, Weathering with You doesn’t really fly off the ground from a storytelling point-of-view.
The premise is uncomplicated: a boy runs away from home to a cold and rainy Tokyo, and later befriends a ‘sunshine’ girl who seems to be able to change the weather. The rain may be perpetual and relentless, but upon request, she could pray for the Sun to come out, if only for a few hours.
“Who cares if we can’t see any sunshine? I want you more than any blue sky.”
Of course, like any film from Shinkai, Weathering with You is happy to traverse between reality and fantasy whilst it sets itself comfortably within the tearjerking romance genre.
Unfortunately, the narrative and emotional payoffs are so-so, and for the most part, the film trickles into an odd perfunctory mode where action is going on, but it isn’t really exciting enough to engage consistently.
Unlike his international breakthrough, Your Name (2016), or even his flawed but intriguing first feature, The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004), Weathering with You is a weaker prospect in comparison, however impressive and detailed the animation is.