Weathering with You (2019) Review

Visually brilliant with outstanding artistry, but is that enough to hold the lacklustre world building and plot?

Weathering with You is a Japanese animated romantic fantasy film, written and directed by Makoto Shinkai. Shinkai has developed a distinctive style over the past few years, moving away from the ghibli-esque Children Who Chase Lost Voices (also known as Journey to Agartha) into films that feature a more realistic style, with a heavy focus on extremely detailed environments.

Shinkai has often seemed to wrestle between focusing his attention on story or style, with Garden of Words (2013) the focus was too much on the style and the plot felt a little weak, whilst Your Name (2016) straddled the line perfectly and crafted an excellent story with beautiful visuals. Weathering with You certainly has the brilliant artistry and every scene is wonderfully animated with intense detail, but unfortunately it follows in the footsteps of Garden of Words and the plot suffers.

The film takes place in Tokyo in 2021, with the plot focusing on a sixteen year old called Hodaka Morishima, who has ran away from his home in the country to try and make a life in Tokyo. He struggles initially, before landing a job at a small publishing firm, and meeting an eighteen year old girl, Hina Amano. Amano discovers she is a sunshine girl, able to control the weather by praying to the gods, which comes in handy considering Tokyo has been in a cycle of unending rain for the past few months with no sign of it letting up. The story follows the trials and tribulations that this job brings and the divine consequences, as well as the relationship between Amano and Morishima as well as several other side characters.

Weathering With You feels like a film of two halves. The first half is somewhat whimsical, there are some key moments, but a lot of light-hearted montages featuring the main characters on various adventures getting to know each other. The second half attempts to squeeze in most of the action, cramming in a lot of exposition and world-building, and ultimately feeling a little rushed as it races to a climax that it didn’t really earn. It feels as if the film is trying to fit itself into a template that it doesn’t really suit, and I wish it could have been a little more brave with breaking the traditional structure of this kind of picture.

When watching the film, it’s clear that it wants you to focus on the relationship between Amano and Morishima, and just accept everything that’s going on around them. If you do that, then this is a very good film, as their relationship is the most fleshed out part of the plot. The weak points come when you start to think more about the meaning of some of the story elements, it introduces questions that it never answers, shows us fantastical elements that don’t seem to make sense, and randomly introduces and then drops side characters storylines.

Despite these weak points, Weathering with You is still a very enjoyable film. The animation is superb, and every scene is crafted to perfection. It’s the kind of movie that you could take a screenshot of any single frame, and happily hang it on your wall as a work of art. It places a lot of focus on emotional elements, allowing the viewer to try and fill in the gaps in the plot themselves, and whilst that may be fine for some people, I personally prefer things to be a little more air-tight.

Overall, I’d recommend this to any anime fan. It may not become your favourite film, but you certainly won’t regret the experience.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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