Weathering With You
Directed by: #MakotoShinkai
Written by: #MakotoShinkai
Makoto Shinkai, the director of the Japanese sensation, Your Name, debuted his newest feature, Weathering With You, at the BFI for a packed audience, followed by an enlightening Q&A with Shinaki himself.
Weathering With You follows a runaway kid, Hodaka (voiced by Kotaro Daigo) as he moves to rainy Tokyo. It has already become a reality in the film’s universe that Japan suffers with torrential rain and the climate is worsening fast – typhoons and heavy rains are now the norm. In his desperation to find a job, the 15-year-old boy accepts a live-in job writing compelling fake news. At last, Hodaka meets Hina (Nana Mori), a “sunshine girl” whose powers are so impressive she can stop the rain for a period of time. Hodaka and Hina develop intense feelings towards each other that seem to be illustrated by the potent showers that are drowning Japan. Hina, however, is put in danger when her powers are sought and demanded by others.
Shinkai’s feature seems deeply personal and, yet, at the same time, it seems to be an open letter. It is obvious to make the connection between the film and climate change, especially in Japan – as Shinkai himself said during his Q&A, the people in Japan no longer wait eagerly for the seasons to change, instead, they prepare for it. He also mentioned that the reason he depicted Tokyo so beautifully, with an intensity of detail, is because he is well aware that, because of the climate, the city will change and maybe even during his lifetime it will no longer be the Tokyo he loves, therefore this urgency and accuracy when portraying the city. His criticism is not perfect, maybe even flawed, as some have argued, but Shinkai responded well to criticism saying that there will always be many ways to read a film and despite having the climate change in his conscience when making Weathering, his focus was, first and foremost, making a piece of entertainment. And with that, he succeeded.
Cinema is not made by one individual alone, but rather it is a group achievement. Weathering With You is not an exception – two elements need to be acknowledged in this film. The music, which, as Shinkai himself said, helped shape the film and polish the dialogues, is ever-present – transferring, at times, the audience member to a music video. Interesting to note here, is the decision to use subtitles with the songs in order to convey the intended meaning to non-Japanese-speaking audiences. The music was done by RADWIMPS, the same group who did the music in Shikai’s previous film, Your Name, and it played an important role during the storyboarding process. Shinkai told the audiences that during the 10-month period that took him to complete the storyboarding process, he would listen to the soundtrack whilst drawing to get the complete idea of the song and what it meant for certain scenes. This care and attention to detail is clearly seen on the screen.
The second point I would like to focus on is the animation itself. Hiroshi Takiguchi, the art director, was responsible for the stunning visuals we see, but he had a little help – five hundred people worked on this film to bring Shinkai’s love for Tokyo and the nuances of the rain and water to the film.
Weathering With You mixes the story of a boy who is drifting out of society and a sunshine girl who is in great danger with the amazingly beautiful visuals and even better soundtrack. It resonated with audiences as they cheered and laughed out loud. Shinkai has proved once again that he is a force to be reckoned with.