Reverberating the idyllic fantasy romance of Your Name that transcends time and space, Makoto Shinkai crafts another coming-of-age romance. If Your Name serves as the spiritual answer to 5 Centimeters per Second; his new animation, Weathering with You a.k.a. Tenki no Ko is undoubtedly the spiritual answer to his rain-soaking The Garden of Words. The parallels to Shinkai’s works in this weather-bending romance are crystal clear.
Weathering with You, strange as the title sounds, plays out with another Shinkai’s wildest dream. The narrative dances in the rain from the very beginning making such a cold welcome to its protagonist. It follows a runaway, Hodaka (Kotaro Daigo), fleeing his island to neon-bathing Tokyo that has rained for days on end. Despair for living, he’s sheltered and hired by a widower, Mr. Suga (Shun Oguri), who owns a low-key, sensationalist magazine. During research for an article, he learns of the “sunshine maiden”, a mythical girl who can control the weather. Hodaka suspects the girl might be Hina (Nana Mori), one of the first persons to help him out in Tokyo.
Shinkai still tends to craft picturesque, hyperrealistic 2D animation with a heartfelt story wrapped in a viable imagination. The narrative also unravels in Your Name’s fashions, with intersections showcasing RADWIMPS’s songs. Similarly, Weathering with You also revolves around an ancient belief. In Your Name, the myth juxtaposes with the occurrence of some celestial object (parallelizing with 5 Centimeters per Second). Meanwhile, this new story sees it juxtaposing with endless rain (making a parallel with The Garden of Words). Plot-wise, this one is less complicated than his 2016 works. Most plot points are guided with monologue voice-over as in Shinkai’s early works.
In Weathering with You, Shinkai’s fascination towards teenage characters’ psychology is sharpened. Hodaka is the epitome of troubled teenage characters in his portfolio. This character is lost and confused as he begins to flee from his home island. His naivety, persistence, and tendency to rebel add up to his collective personal traits. Hodaka sees himself as a grown-up, but we know from his decisions that he doesn’t live up to such judgment. Hina, on the other hand, is the antithesis of Hodaka’s character. The head-in-the-cloud moment that transforms her into the “sunshine maiden” costs her everything, especially her blossoming youth.
Those protagonists project raw yet sympathetic emotions even when Shinkai never unveils their backstories. Same as in his other stories, Shinkai treats teenage love as the purest of its form. It’s the kind of love that does not compromise, view anything outside of itself, and, most importantly, get manufactured. At the same time, the narrative vaguely indicates a dire threat to humanity with a massive downpour the size of The Great Flood. The teenage romance plays an enormous role in the follow-up of this coming catastrophe. However, the story chooses to bypass the complexity of the situation in exchange for a larger-than-life romance.
While Shinkai’s breathtaking visual is second to none, it’s the heart of his imagination that makes Weathering with You another exquisite tour de force, which will rain on your “I will be fine after this” parade. Through this movie, Shinkai officially connects all his movies spiritually, visually and actually. That is a statement you cannot deny, especially when Your Name’s protagonists make an impactful cameo in this movie.