DIRECTOR: MAKOTO SHINKAI | SCREENPLAY: MAKOTO SHINKAI | STARRING: KOTARO DAIGO, NANA MORI, TSUBASA HONDA, SHUN OGURI, SAKURA KIRYU | RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 17TH
A runaway boy. A sunshine girl. A stunning tale of young love against the elements. Legendary Japanese director Makoto Shinkai is back! After releasing the worldwide smash hit romance anime Your Name in 2016, Shinkai now brings audiences another remarkable story of finding love amongst your darkest days and not letting anything get in the way of your destiny.
Even though Tokyo, the shining metropolis of Japan, is consistently plagued by torrential downpours, a young boy named Hodaka (Daigo) takes a massive leap and runs away from his home to journey to the capital. During his treacherous travels aboard a ferry in a violent storm, he meets the father-like figure Keisuke (Oguri) who offers him assistance if he ever needs it. After struggling to get by, Hodaka ends up working with Keisuke before our protagonist becomes a hero and meets Hina (Mori), a kind-hearted soul who possesses a magnificent power - she can alter the weather. There, a relationship begins to blossom as Hodaka and Hina, along with her younger brother Nagi, venture forth to use her ability for good and personal gain, offering their services to provide a clear day for the local civilian's events. But, as is the case with most relationships, the two encounter many instances that will test the strength of their bond from the local law enforcement, to Mother Nature herself as the rain keeps on coming.
Romance and anime is a match made in heaven - through animation, a filmmaker can extend the boundaries of realism and expertly blend them with a dash of the fantastical with expansive worlds that come alive with the stroke of a brush. And that is exactly what Shinkai-san has accomplished with his latest string on his bow.
As with his previous works, the animation is simply astounding. The photorealistic land and cityscapes are a character of their very own and serve as much importance to the story as the living and breathing characters do. While Hodaka is discovering Tokyo for the first time, he is also unearthing his own hidden characteristics as he develops a bond with the mysterious Hina. Every shot is jaw-droppingly gorgeous; you could easily use any frame to hang it on your wall as a breathtaking talking piece.
Our protagonists Hodaka and Hina both possess truly captivating backstories and qualities that resonate on a deeply personal level with anyone of any age. The real-life and relatable story beats throughout, keeping you grounded in reality before you are whisked away on a magical journey to explore the tale through the eyes of these wonderful characters.
Another key aspect of the film that masterfully elevates it is the extraordinary score from RADWIMPS. After working with Shinkai-san on Your Name, the band completely understand his way of thinking, and offer another marvellous score that is both subtle yet grand and will floor you during the key scenes. It's another soundtrack that can be listened to out of context and is guaranteed to bring those astonishing memories of our characters' journey flooding back, opening the gates for plenty of tears (both of joy and sadness).
As the story progresses and our characters grow both physically and emotionally, it is clear to see that Shinkai-san wanted to tell a much more mature story than what he has previously attempted. Although Hodaka and Hina are only young, the growth that they have to endure in order to make sure that their relationship survives will offer countless examples of relatability for both young and old members of the audience. For the youngsters, the astounding visuals and catchy music take them on one hell of a journey, while the adults can easily see some of their own traits within the leads throughout the runtime.
For most filmmakers, replicating the 'lightning in a bottle' effect from a previous standout title can be a difficult and near-impossible task, but Shinkai-san has proved once again why he is the most talented anime director working today. Weathering with You recaptures everything audiences loved about Your Name - it's emotional, funny, truly heartwarming, and will have you in floods of tears. Brought to life by his unrivalled attention to detail when crafting a gorgeous visceral world along with a beautiful score, Weathering with You is an absolute masterpiece.