A warm animation for a dreary winter: ‘Weathering with You’

February 7, 2020

If you’re craving some magic and warmth on a dreary day, then “Weathering with You” is a must-watch for your weekend. Directed by Makoto Shinkai, “Weathering with You” tells the story of two teenagers: a runaway named Hodaka Morishima (Kotara Diago) and a girl who can control the weather named Hina Amano (Nana Mori). Set in a constantly raining Tokyo, “Weathering with You” unfolds with Hodaka teaming up with Hina to bring sunlight to hopeful citizens. However, there’s a catch: Earth demands a balance, and as Hina brings more and more sunlight, the ensuing rains become harsher. 

Despite a looming threat (which you’ll have to discover for yourself), Hodaka and Hina capture the optimism and reckless determination associated with youth. The movie bottles this passion and energy effectively, leaving the audience with no choice but to be moved by the fervor in the characters’ actions even in the midst of danger. 

The supporting characters add just enough slice-of-life to the rest of the movie as well: Keisuke Suga (Shun Ogiri), the beaten down writer who hires Hodaka, Natsumi Suga (Tsubasa Honda), a college student struggling to find a job, and Nagi Amano (Sakura Kiryu), Hina’s younger brother. Each secondary character has enough complexity to keep the audience somewhat invested in their storylines, and although their stories are not dominant, we still find some shift in these characters by the end of the movie.  

The most startling shift, however, is in the actual narrative of “Weathering with You.” Shinkai takes the tropes of his genre and twists them in just the right degree to make the audience feel both satisfied and refreshed, subverting expectations by the time the last strands of the story tie together. 

Besides the whimsical plot and characters, however, “Weathering with You” is an eye-catching film for its tastefulness in both art and music. In the theater, there were several people who were pulling out their phones to take pictures of some of the scenes; the entire theater seemed to melt under one particularly beautiful shot of an animated sunrise. The colors are vibrant and gentle, and every time even the slightest ray of sunlight makes an appearance on screen, the audience can’t help but let out a sigh of relief. Like the citizens of this fictional rain-filled Tokyo, the audience is compelled to leave the dreary world of greys and blues behind for the warm pinks and yellows of the sun. 

The soundtrack, produced by the Japanese rock band Radwimps, is uplifting and plucks at the heartstrings whenever its notes open or close a scene. Some notable songs include “We’ll be Alright,” “Great Escape,” and “Is There Still Anything that Love Can Do?” If the titles of the songs enough don’t invoke immediate images of adventure and love and all the fuzzy feelings associated with animated films, then just wait until you actually listen to the tracks. 

Overall, “Weathering with You” is a touching, beautiful film that deserves all the praise it has already been given. Since its release, “Weathering with You” was nominated for four Annie Awards: Best Indie Feature, Best FX for Feature, Best Direction-Feature, and Best Writing-Feature, tying it with other successful anime movies such as “Spirited Away” or “Millennium Actress” for highest nominations. Although “Weathering with You” unfortunately did not take home any of these awards, it still has received recognition in the Asia Pacific Screen Awards for Best Animated Feature Film, and the film is currently pending an award for Animation of the Year for the Japan Academy Film Prize. 

Award or not, however, “Weathering with You” is the perfect movie for those who are looking for some cheer in the closing weeks of winter (and beginning weeks of midterms). All who watch will quickly be swept up into the odd and beautiful lives of Hodaka and Hina, and for the two hour duration of the movie, viewers will be transported into a different world where one needs only to hope enough for sunshine for such brightness to exist. Vibrant with adventure and magic, this film will be just the perfect ray of sunlight for your own rainy day. 

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