Weathering With You Makoto Shinkai’s latest explores the perpetual trade of our collective existence.
August 28, 2019
Drama, Fantasy, Romance
There is a pervading sense of nostalgia and longing in all of Makoto Shinkai’s works; a tenacious desire to grasp at something intangible. The magic begins when that concept is manifested in the surreal.
Weathering with You embraces both the grandeur of fantasy and the intimate nuances of the mundane. The film explores the place of certain mythologies in an age where everything is a hustle. It introduces us to a budding romance, wrapped in a supernatural premise, before revealing itself as an examination of our spiritual relationship with nature and the perpetual trade our collective existence entails.
To some, that might read as a P.S.A. but the film is actually deeper than one takeaway message. It veers towards a controversial ending, one that upholds our primal tendencies at the expense of the greater good, and acknowledges the imminent toll of our failings as a species.
In spite of what seems like a morbid worldview, the film is inherently hopeful. It proposes that our connection with one another transcends the trappings of our superficial existence. It suggests we might as well relish our time and find purpose in the relationships we make rather than chase after temporary conveniences.
Of course one can enjoy the film without thinking about it too much. Any fan of Shinkai would easily identify the director’s trademark imagery of trains, rain, food, and nature and simply marvel at the pinnacle of Japanese animation. The hyperrealism of the locations allows these anime characters to pop out even more.
The film also employs several visual tricks to imitate the movement and characteristics of real cameras. There are 360 movements around locations that break the rules of traditional 2D animation. There is also the constant use of rack focus between foregrounds to emphasize subjects.
However, not all of it is sly. There is blatant fan service that serves no other narrative purpose other than illicit an audience reaction. Judging from the packed screening, that fan bait was devoured to rapturous effect and no other sequence delivered a similar response. The idea that these characters exist across several movies in a cinematic universe akin to other pop-culture franchises is novel. However, the film doesn’t do anything with that information or imply that these interconnected stories influence one another in any meaningful way.
There is much to be enjoyed from Weathering With You. To take its message on face value might be missing the point of the entire experience. The movie has a soulful quality that goes beyond the themes it pays lip service to. It is a supernatural romance that outgrows the outlandishness of its premise to impart something more.
While it never does capture the brilliance of Shinkai’s most notable work, Your Name, it still exercises some of the magic that can only come from such an imaginative and daring filmmaker.
An examination of our spiritual relationship with nature and the perpetual trade our collective existence entails, "Weathering with You" embraces both the grandeur of fantasy and the intimate nuances of the mundane.