Review by Sean Boelman
Weathering with You — the newest film from highly-acclaimed anime director Makoto Shinkai (Your Name.) — is the type of gorgeously poetic movie that doesn’t come along often enough. Featuring some wonderful animation and one of the most effectively heartbreaking scripts in a long time, Shinkai’s film will almost certainly win over the hearts of viewers.
The movie follows a high-school runaway who flees to Tokyo, befriending a girl with the power to manipulate the weather. Like many of the best anime films, this story is surreal and whimsical, but heavily rooted in real emotions. At the core of the movie is a clear coming-of-age arc, and while the fantasy elements may draw more immediate attention, it is the growth of the characters that will stick with viewers long after the credits roll.
The first act of the film is undeniably the weakest, as it introduces the audience to the characters and the world of the movie. However, in the second and third acts, it becomes clear that this film is about more than just a runaway and the manic pixie dream girl who gives him a new outlook on life — it is a movie about two people growing through each other.
Over the course of the film, Shinkai addresses some of the most common themes of the coming-of-age genre, albeit with an empathy and honesty that makes it stand out. The romantic subplot here feels much more natural here than it does in most anime movies thanks to the nuanced way in which Shinkai develops the characters. This film’s biggest strength is that it fully develops both sides of the relationship on an individual level as well as together.
Admittedly, some sequences in the movie do resort to what could be seen as tear-jerking, but the film nonetheless strikes an emotional chord. The movie will likely resonate with audiences of all ages because the ideas being explored in the film are truly timeless and universal. Everyone has to grow up, and the strongest moments in the movie play into this.
However, the film is also very much a story for today. Shinkai has included some not-too-subtle environmentalist messaging, and for the most part, it works extremely well. This commentary, which spells doom for the world if human actions continue as they are now, helps make the movie even more heartbreaking. Not only will viewers be sad about these characters and their situation — they will also be sad about the state of the world.
As one would expect, the film is gorgeous on a visual level. Shinkai’s ability to build the movie’s world is awe-inspiring. The amount of creativity and hard work on display is shocking and breathtaking. Additionally, the film features a soundtrack with plenty of well-written and catchy music, as is typical of Japanese animation.
Weathering with You is one of the finest animated movies to come out of Japan in a long while, and perhaps even the world. While he isn’t particularly subtle with what he has to say, Makoto Shinkai has made a film that is both beautiful and touching.
Weathering with You plays in theaters via Fathom Events on January 15 and 16 before opening on January 17.