Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Weathering with You 『天気の子』 - 2019 Hawaii International Film Festival Movie Review

The Movie: Weathering with You天気の子

The Director: Makoto Shinkai

The Cast: Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, Kentaro Araki, Chieko Baishô and Kana Hanazawa

The Story: A high-school boy who has run away to Tokyo befriends a girl who appears to be able to manipulate the weather.

The Review:
Japanese animation is light years ahead of anything that the domestic studios are putting out and Weathering with You is a prime example of this disparity. This movie is Makoto Shinkai's Your Name which is quite simply one of the best animated movies ever made and, while not quite reaching those heights, Weathering definitely stands on its own as quite the achievement. There are so many layers and elements to the story telling this is much more than a kids movie and something anyone could easily enjoy.

The animation style has a very similar look, texture, and color pallete as his previous effort, a style that reflects the feel and essence of Japan and its culture perfectly. The colors are soft and full of life and the animation flows effortlessly from scene to scene. I love all of the shots of Tokyo and it was fun seeing locations I have been to and others I would love to visit. There is so much beauty and history in this wonderful city and Shinkai has a keen eye for getting every detail right. Believe me, I paused the movie a couple times and Google mapped a location finding everything in the movie placed and positioned exactly as it exists in real life.

As a writer, Makoto Shinkai has a good feeling for teen angst, the growing pains involved with that age group, and the fascination with a future that is filled with nothing but hopes and dreams. In this story, he deconstructs what it means to be part of a family in much the same way that Kore-eda Hirokazu did with Shoplifters, one of my favorite movies of 2018. Shinkai pulls together a band of misfits and outcasts and creates a bond between them that is stronger than any of the real families that they might have come from before we see them in this story. Honestly, I feel like I need to watch the movie again before really going deep into this topic although I don't want you to think all of this is serious drama, the director layers everything neatly into his uniquely whimsical fantasy world.

Of course, this is fantasy as the story revolves around Hina, voiced by Nana Mori, a teenage girl who has the power to manipulate the weather. Her story is hopeful, inspirational, heartbreaking, and filled with just about every other emotion you can think of. Hina has a beautiful spirit and an unwavering determination that is impressive considering the cards she has been dealt and then things takes a very drastic turn when a young runaway named Hanako almost literally stumbles into her world. I probably have more to say about this movie and I need to see it again before I begin to articulate those thoughts.

Minor spoiler alert here for the more dedicated fans of Makoto Shinkai films.

I didn't know this until after watching the movie, but both Mitsuha and Taki, the two main characters from Your Name, have very small, yet significant parts in this story. Seriously, I had no idea. If you want to know more, do an internet search, I'm not going to give any more info here than I already have. It's really cool though and I can't wait to watch the movie again so I can see them and the bit of influence they have on one of the main characters.

The Verdict:
Weathering with You is a wonderful addition to Makoto Shinkai's master class in what is possible with animated story telling. This movie was not made to sell toys or to cross promote with other brands or to be part of a corporate money making machine. This movie was made to entertain us, to teach us about ourselves and the world around us, and to inspire us to look at life just a little bit differently.

Weathering With You is an official selection of the 2019 Hawaii International Film Festival.

To keep track of all my reviews and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at HIFF 2019.

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