“Weathering With You” and “Your Name,” the director’s previous effort in 2016, are inevitably going to be compared to each other.
This is a film in its own right, but “Your Name” was a game-changer in Japan, becoming the fourth highest grossing film there. The next release by the director, Makoto Shinkai, regardless of what it was, has to be compared to it.
And, it is safe to say, “Weathering With You” has far surpassed its predecessor and all the previous films by Shinkai. This is a controversial opinion due to the status that “Your Name” holds, but the current film deserves the notion.
“Your Name” felt disjointed and lacked transitions during the perspective changes in the beginning when they swapped bodies. “Weathering With You” alleviates these problems by crafting a much more simple narrative. There is a more conventional perspective, with most of the movie focuses on the male lead, Hodaka.
“Weathering With You” also refrains from opening plot holes. “Your Name” was forced to handwave several inconsistences, such as the leads not noticing the date, by the fact that the characters were in a dreamlike state. “Weathering With You” has no apparent plot holes.
The setting of the new film is much more grimy. Unlike the earlier movies’s idyllic depiction of Tokyo and the countryside, the dark underbelly of city life is on display in “Weathering With You.” The film is incredibly polished, with each detail visible.
The simplicity of its plot does come back to bite it. Viewers will not find a grand narrative masterwork here. It is a story of boy-meets-girl, boy-saves-girl, boy-floods-a-world-capital-for-girl.
Instead of crafting a deep narrative, it relies on powerful storytelling beats instead. Each beat is calculated how to hit the hardest in order to draw viewer sympathy for the characters. It does this with expertise, but it is not complex in the slightest.
While the characters are well-developed, they are not particularly deep. Still, this lends itself to the plot, letting the story run off emotions.
There were several neat allusions and pieces of symbolism. While Hodaka is in the net café, he has “Catcher in the Rye” placed on his desk, alluding to how he wanders in the beginning of the film and gets into trouble.
A piece of symbolism worth noting is the use of trains, which the director, in many of his films, uses to represent the distances and bonds between people. In the climax, Hodaka runs along the tracks with one desire in mind—to meet with Hina again.
Each piece of music in the score is used to complement each narrative beat. When the climatic drop is played in this one song, Grand Escape, it feels like you are being lifted up along with the characters into the sky, as if your seat has suddenly been shot upwards.
This film is not a masterpiece but it is a sign that Shinkai can continue producing works that draw in audiences, and improve upon himself endlessly.
“Weathering With You” is the best work from Shinkai yet.