Weathering with You Movie Review
It’s not you, it’s me. Makoto Shinkai, you’ve made a beautifully animated movie. The characters are grounded, largely believable. The story, one of youthful love, spans continents, ethnicities, and language. Weathering with You, by all accounts, is a very good movie.
But why is it animated?
Again, it’s not you, it’s me. I’ve never been a huge fan of “serious” animated films—dramas, character studies, etc. I’ve always struggled to get engrossed in such fictional worlds, to care for the characters as much as I would if they were portrayed in live-action fashion. I don’t know why, but it is what it is. I had hoped Weathering with You, with its blisteringly good reviews, would circumvent my mental constraints. That it would blow me away in spite of myself. That it would prove to me it is worthy of the praise.
Wait, but is it me? Weathering with You is a cute little story, about a high school runaway who ends up in Tokyo and meets a girl who apparently can control the weather. Tokyo is suffering from a horrific bout of rain, but Hina (voiced by Nana Mori) brings out the sun.
Surely it’s a surface-level metaphor for what she means for Hodaka (Kotaro Daigo), but whatever.
The two develop a tight but tentative relationship, but I struggled to care about the pair—increasingly so as the movie progresses. Weathering with You begins to slip into what I’d consider stereotypical anime fare (as you can suspect, I am not well-versed in the genre and am about to make some arguably slanderous claims), with the wide-eyed couple wailing at each other more and more, to the point that you want to punch Hodaka in the face. He’s sort of obnoxious when you think about it, and Hina, despite her special powers, oddly forgettable. Natsumi (Tsubasa Honda) is a more memorable and engaging character—and doesn’t come with all that weather baggage.
At nearly two hours, Weathering with You also stretches its surprisingly simple story of young love (colored, admittedly, by some weird weather stuff). The first act is pretty compelling, but the latter half of the movie drags, increasingly so, as it approaches the end credits. There’s no denying Shinkai’s unique vision and creativity, but uniqueness and creativity don’t necessarily make for compelling storytelling.
As much as Weathering with You didn’t work for me, I respect its craft. The visuals are often stunning, the subtle fantasy elements intriguingly complementing the all-too-real world Shinkai has brought to life. While the story is a tad dull, the writing is well-done, the voice acting (I watched the Japanese version, with English subtitles) superb.
Even still, Weathering with You didn’t work for me. I want to say it’s me, not you. But now I’m not so sure.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.