*I’ll made a big note of when I start getting into spoilers, but I’ll try to cover as much as I can without them first.
For some reason I didn’t even think about writing a review of Weathering With You (by Makoto Shinkai) but even though it’s late it’s strong as ever! I’m going to assume if you’ve found my blog then you at least know of Your Name and Makoto Shinkai’s works. Quick backstory: Your Name hit theaters in 2016 (REALLY? How has it been that long??) and it was a huge hit. It’s music by RADWIMPS, an incredible Japanese band that did the album in both Japanese and English, which I feel like is something we haven’t really had since Utada Hikaru, or at least on that level. Makoto Shinkai later said in an interview that people didn’t have much faith in anime movie productions that weren’t made by Studio Ghibli, but he wanted to change that. Prove than persons/studios other than Hayao Miyazaki could make works that transcend borders and really become beloved by people.
And he did that! Your Name was a brilliant success, and boosted Radwimps’ overseas popularity too. I’ll spare you the spoils of his interview, but essentially he spent the next 2 years working in direct collaboration with Radwimps to create Weathering With You, hoping to continue the success. He explicitly states that he did not want to create a copy of Your Name, and wanted Weathering With You to be its own creation. Obviously just by looking at it, one could draw many similarities with the art style, the fact the music is by RADWIMPS, etc, but with many of Studio Ghibli’s team on staff now they really cranked up the quality.
Okay, so what did you actually think of the movie?
Okay, onto the actual review of Weathering With You. I knew going in that if I didn’t try to shove Your Name out of my head, I’d end up comparing them too much and be disappointed. After all, I don’t think anything could replace Taki-kun and Mitsuha’s story. So that’s what I did! Shoved it out of my head. This is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT STORY!
It’s pacing is completely different. It’s point is completely different. It’s, in my opinion, a lot more aggressive. Which is actually something that Shinkai mentions, as he speaks about how he’s always depicted weather as beautiful and spiritual. But with how many natural disasters Japan faces, they obviously see a very violent side of mother nature and he wanted to show that.
Weathering With You covers a story of what it’s like to be a runaway Japanese teen in Tokyo. It’s both a fantasy story as much as it a raw slice of life, in lives that aren’t necessarily very happy or fulfilled.
The first thing I noticed that was really different from Your Name was the pacing. There was a looot of build up in the beginning, but also into the middle. If I had to draw a line art example, Your Name would look closer to a regular heartbeat while Weathering With You is like someone who flat lined for awhile and then heart started pumping in overdrive until you forgot they ever flat lined in the first place. This is probably a terrible example, but what I envisioned it as.
But once the stakes start getting high, they don’t stop and suddenly you find your face as wet as the weather in the movie for the rest of the movie. I felt like the whole second half of the movie was like someone was squeezing my heart, for different reasons depending on the scene.
Spoiler free, I was in awe over the last 30 minutes or so. I couldn’t help but think, “I can’t believe Shinkai went there. It became so much darker and more raw than I was expecting (because of course the expectations from Your Name still linger) but it made it so unique! I was just overall really surprised, caught off guard, and you bet your ass my eyes welled up like crazy. I’m good at not letting myself cry in movie theaters, but it was difficult. Shinkai claimed that he was driven to show the characters expressing themselves fully, saying with conviction exactly what they wanted while not being concerned with others’ opinions. That, along with how the movie really ended, was so incredible to me because it’s very not what ‘traditional Japanese culture’ teaches. If you don’t know, Japan is very group-oriented and many western countries (like USA) are very individual-oriented. This means Japan thinks it’s better to sacrifice your own wants and needs for the good of others, like your family and fellow countrymen. It’s very self-sacrificing and it’s frowned upon to speak your feelings openly, because it can hurt or offend others.
I absolutely loved Weathering With You and can’t wait to see it again! I can’t say what’s “better” because they’re two very different films and I’m not into comparing apples to oranges. I love Your Name’s story line and innocence, and I love Weathering With You’s unapologetic rawness, for lack of a more original word.
If you’ve watched the movie or don’t care about major spoilers, continue on!
I’ve watched many dark, sad anime, war anime, things that seem to rip out your heart for no reason at all sometimes. So when I say I feel like Shinkai really took an aggressive route with the ending, I mean it! Just like Your Name, I think it’s important to know some things about Japanese culture. Like the strict gun laws, the fact if you get jail time it reeeally messes up your future, etc. When Hodaka grabs the gun and points it at his friend/mentor and the police, that shit got real, fast. I really thought he was going to shoot him and it was going to have a very bad ending. I also really didn’t think Hina would be ‘revived’ because they spend the whole movie hinting and leading up to that, but I certainly didn’t realize the consequences that’d take place. Shinkai sunk Tokyo! What?! Is that not crazy? Hodaka chose Hina over sun, but mother nature be damned if they let them get out of the consequences. I was really shocked, but the words spoken by the obaa-chan sounded very Japanese and it all made it all seem less bad. Tokyo was a bay before, the world is just doing what it does and we’re fools to think we’re the bosses of this planet.
It’s a really cool message, one that is very important during all the devastating natural disasters all over the world. (Not to say global warming isn’t a thing!) I could sit and dissect this message more, but I think it’s better as a discussion group among your peers instead of me blabbering trying to end the post all sophisticated like. 🙂 😛
Thanks for reading my review of Weathering With You and if you liked it please let me know! I’m not sure how popular blog anime reviews like this are anymore, but I really enjoy them (even if I’m not a very good critical reviewer haha)