Starring: Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, Shun Oguri
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Running Time: 112 mins
Weathering With You is a Japanese film about a teenage boy who, upon arriving in Tokyo after running away from home, begins to fall in love with the city, especially when he meets a girl with ability to change the weather.
Passionate, visually dazzling and boundlessly imaginative, Weathering With You is an utterly gorgeous film from beginning to end. The film stuns with its electrifying animation style, all the while grabbing you with an emotionally charged story about love and growing up, as director Makoto Shinkai provides yet another breathless and spectacular drama.
The film packs so much into its two-hour runtime that it’s difficult to know where to start, but if there’s one thing that undeniably makes the film what it is, it has to be the animation.
Shinkai’s recent films Your Name, Children Who Chase Lost Voices and the short The Garden Of Words have all been centrepieces of modern anime, blending the traditional visual style with new, crisp and photorealistic visuals.
In that regard, Weathering With You once again delivers, and to the highest degree. Again delving deep into Tokyo, Shinkai powerfully captures the scale and spirit of the city, not only impressing with stunning detail and geographical accuracy, but also in the way he shows the countless different sides to the world’s biggest city.
And that detail isn’t just a gimmick, but an integral part of the story, as we see our young lead tentatively discover the city, from its neon-soaked crossroads to the dark and dirty back alleys, and fall in love with it as he becomes deeply connected to its people.
Weathering With You then proves somewhat of a love letter to Tokyo as well as a love story in its own regard, and as we see romance blossom between the two leads, the passion with which the film presents the city, and the connection between their love and the ever-changing nature of Tokyo becomes stronger and stronger.
It’s an ingenious technique that works spectacularly, and as Shinkai thrills with dazzling visuals throughout, from the crisp animation of rain to overwhelmingly beautiful sky vistas, it only furthers the intensity and passion of the story at hand.
The film’s strongest suit, as a result, is without a doubt the romance at the centre of the story. There’s a lot going on, from a pseudo-crime, The Fugitive-esque story that follows the teenage boy evading capture by the authorities after running away from home, as well as a fantasy tale about a magical girl who can control the weather with a wish.
All of that put together would normally seem like a mess, but when the romance comes out on top – whether that be in the film’s blissfully sweet middle act or the deeply passionate finale – it’s an electrifying watch, and with stunning emotional resonance at its most intense moments.
On the flipside, though, the film’s biggest weaknesses do come in trying to tie all the other story lines together in one. It’s by no means a messy film, but the crime and fantasy stories – as captivating as they are – often feel intrusive and obstructive to the romance.
In that, the film can feel frustratingly episodic at times, again employing jarring cuts-to-black that were a bugbear for me in Your Name. As a result, the pacing is a little inconsistent, and while Weathering With You absolutely knocks it out of the park with its most focused and emotionally intense moments, there are periods earlier on where all of its stories don’t gel particularly well together.
That’s my biggest gripe with the film, and I wish that it would have taken just a little more time to refine and perhaps cut down the roles of its secondary narratives. They don’t take away from the dazzling spectacle of it all, but don’t help much either.
Overall, though, Weathering With You is an undeniably fantastic film. From its deeply gorgeous visuals to its thrilling emotional depth, from its beautiful and boundless imagination to its incredible attention to detail, there’s never a dull moment.
It’s another delightful and dazzling anime from director Makoto Shinkai, and a more than satisfying follow-up to his smash hit Your Name, even if it doesn’t quite match that. So, that’s why I’m giving Weathering With You a 7.8.