WEATHERING WITH YOU 天気の子 Intricately Weaves A Portrait Of Human Relationships Against The Backdrop Of Nature
Hodaka Morishima, a runaway teenager, has just arrived in Tokyo during its exceptionally rainy season. While struggling to survive, he meets Hina Amano, an orphan girl who appears to be able to manipulate the weather.
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Cast: Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, Oguri Shun, Tsubasa Honda, Sakura Kiryu
Runtime: 114 mins
It seems only apt that I watch this film on a rainy day. And while the film is known for being a follow-up to Makoto Shinkai’s 2016 award-winning film Your Name, it couldn’t be more different.
Firstly, this one is not a love story, though it may masquerade as one. It follows the story of two runaway teenagers, Hodaka Morishima (Kotaro Daigo) and Hina Amano (Nana Mori), whose lives entangle during the exceptionally rainy weather in Tokyo. While there is a romantic thread that unravels between the two of them, the film mainly chronicles their journey as they struggle to eke out paths for themselves in a world that seems to be against them, and the main running plot revolves around Hina’s miraculous ability to manipulate weather patterns.
The Tokyo that we know and love from Your Name gains a new facet in Weathering With You. Instead of an awe-inspiring cityscape, rain fills the cold, hostile underbelly of Tokyo, where seedy love hotels and pimps recruiting desperate young women for sex work rule the inhospitable streets. Much like the characters in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s films, the abandoned youths in this urban jungle are left to fend for themselves, and the relentless downpour that chases after them is all the more tumultuous and destructive as they attempt to find themselves and make their own choices.
As with all Makoto Shinkai’s films, Shinto beliefs and mysticism are carefully interwoven with modern society in this film, whereby teru teru bozus — Japanese good weather charms shaped like ghosts — and an ancient mythology that spans over two hundred years make up most of the film’s fantastical premise. While there are narrative gaps in this mythology, these unexplained gaps makes sense within the film’s context, whereby the mythology is an ancient tale that little are privy to.
What might be more difficult to excavate is the film’s ultimate message. Weathering With You is not as simple, nor as straightforward, as Makoto Shinkai’s previous feel-good romantic-comedy; there are a lot more players in this film, and they each contribute individual strands of plotlines and perspectives to weave a greater, more intricate portrait of the world as it is.
Keisuke Suga (Shun Oguri) is a middle-aged man who is both Hodaka’s saviour and employer; Natsumi (Tsubasa Honda) is Hodaka’s colleague and a college student; and Nagi Amano (Sakura Kiryu) is Hina’s younger brother who’s still studying in middle school. Despite the wealth of characters, each of their personalities and motivations are fleshed out, and their development throughout the film is obvious. They have to grapple with their own sets of issues and learn to make sense of the world on their own, and they all have stakes in the rampaging rains that have befallen Tokyo.
The varying perspectives provided by this array of characters contribute layers of dimension to the film’s narrative, and while this certainly makes the story more enriching, it makes extracting a single main idea difficult. There are many ways to understand the film’s ultimate message, and for me, there seems to be two main possibilities. Rational and protective as the adults are, from their perspective the film’s message seems a little fatalistic: the world will revert to its natural state eventually, and there is no need to take up the burden of the world’s fate on your own shoulders.
From the youth’s perspective, however, it is a little different. Their choices and efforts, selfish as they might seem to be, do make a difference in changing things, and they can — and will — eventually take the torch in helming the future direction of the world.
There are other ideas that come across throughout the film’s narrative as well, most potently the topic of climate change, how humans and the environment impact one another equally, and balancing short-term solutions to long-term consequences.
Visually, Makoto Shinkai’s usual impeccable style comes across in his photorealistic landscape of Tokyo, veiled by a thick layer of constant, unforgiving rain. The soundtrack, once again led by Japanese rock band Radwimps — is emotional and engaging, and provides the perfect backdrop to the gritty reality that the characters reside in.
A tantalising treat for the senses, Weathering With You packs more than expected in its nuanced narrative. The various threads of characters and plotlines in the film ultimately come together to create a thought-provoking piece that probes not only at an individual’s place in society, but also calls for deeper understanding regarding the world as it is, and how we might be able to impact it.
P.S. There are cameos of our favourite characters from Your Name in this film! Be sure to look out for them!
Brought by Encore Films, Weathering With You is now playing in theatres across Singapore. You can catch the trailer here: