The last anime film I watched was Your Name nearly three years ago, which is too bad, as there is so much beautiful work Japan has made in this medium, and I along with several Americans are missing them. The stunning aesthetic of Weathering With You convinced me that I shouldn’t just start watching more anime, but that I officially want to travel to Tokyo soon! It doesn’t matter that this movie gives a horrific depiction of a potential The Day After Tomorrow future for that marvelous city, the simple artistry of the experience is all the convincing I need to fall in love with Japanese culture!
Crying is guaranteed right away, and the sympathy continues until the very end. The reason for the tears is because the movie itself never stops crying. Literally: the rain over Japan is falling nonstop throughout the entire summer, to the point when it even rushes in constant apocalyptic floods that set up a safety hazard. This fictional record-breaking rainfall in Tokyo resonates ever so deeply into our current day of climate change, to the point when it becomes uncomfortable in a way that convicts the audience to act upon it. The rain builds the dreamy sound design of this picture, there’s a lot to take in: gentle puddle drops, the harsh downpour across the street, the shocking use of lightning, people in traffic, music that seems to play backwards, and the heartbeat of this ambience connecting the sound of rain to all the other objects so it all sounds like one. The sound helps set the mood when the protagonist, Hodaka, eats McDonalds for three consecutive days. The energy of the audio leaves an impact whenever quiet moments immediately follow loud bangs to surpass mere tangibility of what can be heard.
The emotional power works too, mostly because it’s easy to feel deeply hurt for Hodaka. He moved into Japan for a job, only to start off homeless for a short while, just long enough to understand his anger. Then he does get hired for a live-at-home type of job, where his new boss basically takes advantage of him. These circumstances not only work for narrative purposes, but also spread awareness to the difficulty behind employment search these days. That’s why he adopts an adorable alley cat that he names “Rain,” as if his joy comes from giving a name to the horrible weather.
Meanwhile, there’s another girl in this same story, Hina, also in a state of financial crisis, who can bring the sun! She got those powers after praying beneath rooftop arches immediately following her mother’s death, turning her into a figure of Japanese folklore, the “Sunshine Girl.” She is first seen behind a rain-pattered window to make her look like she’s crying, as if she and the weather are already one, the same way that Hodaka and the cat are one. Only Hina’s abilities can stop the rain, which is why when the two teens meet, they start a business complete with an umbrella of attached teru teru bōzus. The setup gives teenagers proper expectations about social service, as this is a story they will easily relate to. Although pretty dull dialogue causes for some shallow interaction between the characters (probably more because of the English translation), the use of Hina’s powers still breaks the already tender heart, and even motivates teens toward healthy relationship goals.
The story structure around these two strangely seems to deepen the sky’s mysterious secrets beyond the ocean, shrinking the two leads much smaller in comparison. The narration throughout resembles a prayer that screams out from the pressures of adolescent romance. Here lies the effective secret behind the film’s emotional waterfall: it truthfully declares that the sky connects to the human heart. It’s really true, our moods behave generally happier throughout the summer, or angrier from the heat, whereas cold snow generally causes people to grow desperate. The weather’s spirituality upon the individual never gets sugarcoated, aside from a few wrong cinematic techniques such as rain falling on the lens. As the rain keeps falling nonstop, children may splash throughout puddles, adults may want to kill one another, but most of Tokyo just calls the rain a tremendous inconvenience.
However, this version of Tokyo remains incomplete; the digital effects used to create the buildings blend poorly into the hand drawn imagery. Though it doesn’t look bad enough to destroy the experience, as the fireworks eventually come in to light up the miserable sky, the dreamy animation style with the bittersweet use of music makes every stylistic decision a powerful one. When it’s all over, Hodaka must pay the cost for the way he hinders nature, which gives clarity on whether to financially contribute toward certain environmental causes.
Concerning the global devastation, it ultimately declares that no matter what twister comes, no matter what wildfires kill off the animals, no matter what disease or plague wants to spread across the world, no matter what happens in 2020, the only thing that really matters is to remain committed to the wellbeing of others, especially our closest companions. It’s amazing how this production uses Japanese folklore to connect Tokyo’s past to the present, proving the power of stories to remind viewers of the uniting power they carry. What was a huge problem back in BC times isn’t huge nowadays, and today’s problems weren’t relevant back then, but one core theme connects the past to the present: love.
That goes to reason why more studios across oceans must collaborate more, imagine the creative potential of combining Pixar animation techniques with anime! If that theme of love in stories connected not just the when, but also the where, then everyone, American or Japanese, Australian or Chinese, could be looking toward a much brighter future. You can help too by seeing Weathering With You, which may mean you’d have to take a chance and watch something outside of your unfamiliarity, but what you’ll then be exposed to should take you one step closer to a tender heart.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Bramesco, Charles. “Anime master Makoto Shinkai returns in the Weathering With You trailer.” Digital image. Little White Lies. 15 Oct 2019. Web. <https://lwlies.com/articles/anime-master-makoto-shinkai-returns-in-the-weathering-with-you-trailer/>.
Weathering With You. GKids. Web. <https://gkids.com/films/weathering-with-you/>.