Weathering With You / Tenki No Ko is the latest film from acclaimed director Makoto Shinkai and it’s his follow-up to the incredibly successful Your Name. This movie follows two teenagers, one of whom can bring the sunshine out on a stormy day. When the two start making money off of this gift, things start getting complicated for everyone risking their lives, safety and love for one another. The movie stars Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, Shun Oguri and Tsubusa Honda.
When it comes to directors, it is extremely rare for me to want to explore their entire filmography. However, that is what happened with Makoto Shinkai once I saw Your Name. I was so taken aback by the beauty of that movie that I just had to see what else this man has done. I have seen most of his full-length features, the only one that’s left is his earliest one, The Place Promised In Our Early Days. Other than that I’ve seen all of his movies and even some of the shorts he’s created. You can clearly tell if you’ve seen more than one of his movies that he has a certain checklist for his movies. There has to be romance, fantasy, epic stakes and a lustrous, intimate view of Japan. This movie checks all of those boxes even if it doesn’t execute all of them in the best way.
Like most of his features, Weathering With You features the signature Makoto Shinkai traits but it executes them in a rather underwhelming way. Having Your Name be the biggest movie of his career, it must have been hard for him not to be influenced by it and for critics not to compare the two. For me, since I’ve seen most of his filmography, I had much more to compare to and I have to say, Weathering With You is at the bottom when it comes to writing. It starts out with a fantastic twenty minutes only to then be dragged out until the halfway point. Given a runtime of almost two hours didn’t help either. It spends most of its time foreshadowing events that leads to a pretty busy third act.
However, what is perhaps the most questionable aspect of this movie is its message regarding climate change. The movie makes it a point that there is a problem with the weather, it acknowledges climate change but it never takes it seriously. When the final few jarring minutes come, it makes you rethink what this movie is truly about. Is it a romance or is it about climate change? The ending doesn’t give you the option of both, it makes its decision for you and considering the actual circumstances we’re living in right now, I wouldn’t really say it’s a responsible movie in that regard. It outright denies climate change when a character suggests that Earth has always been like this. There are multiple articles regarding this ending and I honestly don’t know how this movie didn’t experience any backlash from it. This article specifically explains it perfectly but read at your own risk since it is obviously full of spoilers.
Outside of it’s irresponsible ending, Weathering With You unfolds similarly to Your Name. However, unlike that movie, this one hits a few bumps along the way. For me, the movie was at its best in the first fifteen minutes. One thing Shinaki never fails to deliver is a transporting view of Japan. I would say this is the one area where actually succeeds Your Name. He has this amazing capability of showing Tokyo and making it feel lived in and alive. This movie is brimming with atmosphere and the stunning animation truly brings it to life. Every shot can be a perfect desktop background. While I enjoyed Hodaka’s character, it does seem like Hina is underdeveloped as a character next to him which is a shame considering she is the female lead. She is portrayed as as a selfless person who loves to bring a smile to people’s faces. All of that is fine but she never goes anything beyond that. She never faces any conflict or hesitation making her decision in the third act seem expected. The stakes aren’t as high because there is no mystery behind the climax. There isn’t a sense of urgency because this movie would rather play out as romantic drama rather than a disaster movie.
While Your Name has fantastical elements, Weathering With You is easily Shinkai’s most fantastical movie. Having seen his previous work, I can say Shinkai’s more intimate and realistic projects are better at exploring characters and romance than his fantasy-heavy movies. Movies like 5 Centimeters per Second and The Garden of Words benefit from that as they feel grounded and offer more room to explore the characters and their growing love for one another. With the amount of lore this movie sets up, it makes for a ton of questions. The system of weather maidens this movie uses is explained in a single exposition heavy scene basically foreshadowing the third act. We never get to know how many weather maidens are left. We never get to know if Hodaka gets these abilities when he passes through the gate. How long has it been since the last weather maiden? These questions are never answered. Maybe just maybe Shinkai will go the sequel route and answer these questions in a potential sequel. I highly doubt it will happen but if it does there is plenty of material left to work with.
Overall Weathering With You doesn’t compare to Makoto Shinkai’s work in terms of story and characters. It does however rival his works in terms of animation, cinematography and atmosphere. This is a stunning movie, the animation alone will make me want to revisit it. However, despite its irresponsible stance on climate change and the jarring ending, the underdeveloped characters and the holes in it’s myth and lore make Weathering With You one of Shinkai’s lesser movies.