Makoto Shinkai’s follow-up to Your Name is Weathering With You, a really lovely animation from Japan. Your Name was an extremely influential film, becoming the highest-grossing anime film and Japanese film of all time, and so his follow-up was always going to be highly anticipated.
The plot is set in an alternative reality of sorts in which Japan has been overtaken by a large onset of torrential rain. A young 16-year-old boy, Hodaka Morishima (voiced by Kotaro Diego originally, and Brandon Engman in the English dubbed version), runs away from home because he felt “suffocated” by his parents, and after a rough period, finds a place to live and employment with a writer, Keisuke Suga (Shun Oguri; Lee Pace). He begins to encounter a mysterious young girl, Hina Amano (Nana Mori; Ashley Boettcher), who reveals she has the ability to clear the sky and bring sunshine for a brief period by praying. Hodaka and Hina soon create a business where they will provide sunshine for anyone who needs it (Hina being called a “sunshine girl”), and in the process, fall in love.
This film was just so lovely from beginning to end. For starters, it has a really wonderful and innovative premise. It is a simple one, but one that really works, and plays out beautifully. The state of the world and how it could possibly be due to global warming also adds an element of political allegory to the film.
The characters are also really lovely. Hodaka and Hina are really interesting teenage characters who feel very relatable and accessible. The film also has some great supporting characters, including Keisuke and his co-corker, Natsumi Suga (Tsubana Honda; Alison Brie), who give some wonderful comic relief to the film.
The animation is also really, really beautiful. There is some wonderful landscape and scenery to chew on. The film has a bright and eclectic colour palette, that feels reminiscent of sci-fi films like Blade Runner (1982), and this and it’s landscapes give the film a futuristic feeling, that contributes to it’s alternate reality setting.
The central love story between the characters is really interesting, but unlike some romance films, the film never loses its stakes, and there still feels like there is a sense of jeopardy involved with the characters. But at the same time, it never loses it’s sense of humour or fun tone.
The only criticism I’d label at the film is that it’s a little too long, and there is a moment near the end where the film drags slightly.
But Weathering With You remains a really cute, lovely and beautifully animated film. It probably won’t be playing in that many theatres, but you should really branch out to see it because it’s just lovely.