Love isn’t a battlefield, it’s a hurricane…
Weathering With You dives into the passionate torrent of young love with a stunning piece of Japanese anime that is so jaw droppingly beautiful that you just can’t help but get swept up in it all.
The summer of his high school freshman year, Hokoda runs away from his remote island home to Tokyo, and quickly finds himself pushed to his financial and personal limits. The weather is unusually gloomy and rainy every day, as if to suggest his future. He lives his days in isolation, but finally finds work as a writer for a mysterious occult magazine. Then one day, Hokoda meets Hina on a busy street corner. This bright and strong-willed girl possesses a strange and wonderful ability: the power to stop the rain and clear the sky.
Writer/Director Makoto Shinaki (who you may know from 2016’s Your Name) has given us something that is admittedly a little silly and ‘Young Adult’ but is such a stunning affair that we as an audience just can’t help but get lost in the fantasy and the power of first love.
Yeah it’s kind of silly and a fair bit of it could very easily get lost in translation (I’ve seen the dubbed and the subtitled version and this is very possible) as it plays through quite a few expected beats that you’d figure in a story of first love but where the genius of it all really lies is in the subtle layers that unfurl in the narrative. There are stories of social inequity with kids running away and living on the street in the face of difficult situations, there are issues of global warming and we see the cold realities of inner city living lensed through the eyes of these young characters as they come of age and discover themselves. While it all lacks the innovativeness of his previous Your Name there’s a real charm to it all even when it gets a little silly thanks to a voice cast that fully engages with the material in both languages.
The detail in the visuals as we weave in and out of the city of Tokyo rival some of the best anime that this critic has actually ever seen. If you just want to watch something that is visually stunning and throw the story out the window, you can do it if you need to here, but that would actually be doing it a disservice. Shinaki is firmly cementing himself as not only a visual storyteller but as one that isn’t afraid to layer in some genuine issues and drama throughout a romance story that while engaging isn’t exactly original.
Ultimately, when all is said and done, Weathering With You is something that is much more accessible then I had initially anticipated. It visually rivals some of the best and large scope anime’s that I have ever seen but it allows us to get wrapped up in an occasionally silly but always sweet love story. There’s really no reason why this film works as well as it does, and that’s the magic of the movie that on occasion you just have to go with.
Weathering With You is playing at select Cineplex Locations as a Cineplex Events screening with both English Dubbed and Subtitled options.