Date: 2020 January 07 20:45
Posted by Joe
Makoto Shinkai's latest cinematic offering Weathering With You is about to hit cinemas around the UK and Ireland from Friday 17th January 2020. We were lucky enough to catch the movie beforehand at a special press screening. Want to know if it's any good? Then why not read our review?
You can find a screening near you by visiting weatheringwithyoufilm.co.uk.
You can also catch a special double bill screening of Your Name and Weathering With You at selected cinemas on Wednesday 15th January 2020.
Weathering With You is the latest offering from Makoto Shinkai. The director is best known for his huge box office smash hit Your Name. After hearing about this new film we were very excited and naturally keen to see it. Will it be as good as Your Name?
Weathering With You follows the adventures of teenage runaway Hodaka, who escapes life on an isolated Japanese island to head for the bright lights of modern day Tokyo. Down on his luck he meets Hina, a girl who has the ability to bring sunshine to people's lives. Fun, adventure and a very Shinkai-eque romance follow.
After the huge box office success of Your Name, another movie from Makoto Shinkai was inevitable. While each of his previous films have common elements, such as lavish sunsets, accurately drawn worlds and objects, they also have their own distinct story. Weathering With You seems very similar to Your Name. It feels like he used the same template and applied it again to a different scenario. Very similar story elements are used in both films: we've got some Shinto inspired spirituality/magic, a teenage boy and a teenage girl as main characters, one from Tokyo, the other from rural Japan. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but does feel a little safe compared to Shinkai's earlier releases.
Music-wise, Shinkai has returned to Japanese rock band RADWIMPS to supply the catchy sound track. It hits all the right notes for the movie and I'm enjoying listening to the movie soundtrack while writing this review. I imagine him sitting with the band over a coffee, and him going "I want the same sound again please!", but again if you go to certain artists you're going to get their signature sound. After all Studio Ghibli collaborated with Joe Hisaishi for their own soundtracks, so it makes sense if you've got something good going with a band to use them again.
The animation is lavish. To get the best impact you really need to see it on a big screen. Cityscapes are drawn in fantastic detail. Technology is drawn accurately, and it adds to the story with characters picking up tablets to look up information. Shinkai's signature use of sunsets and bright orangey-pink skies has been dialled down significantly, to be replaced with a more blue / grey palette to match the constant gloom and rain of the ongoing season in Tokyo. Detailed water and animated transparency effects make the rain feel realistic and ever present. The animation teams haven't taken short cuts, it really is an excellent example of top-notch animation.
Like Your Name, Shinkai's signature melancholy has been dialled down and replaced with a sense of humour. Perhaps this is how all his future productions will be? There are lots of little great moments that'll have you chuckling throughout the movie. There is still a dark edge to the story that keeps it interesting.
The supporting cast are all interesting. They've each got their own back stories and could easily stand as main characters in other shows. I want a spin off show about K&A Magazine or the aging police detective!
We've also got some product placement. The most blatant being a scene at McDonalds with staff in real McDonalds uniforms and real interior design. Although this made a refreshing change from anime traditionally using a W instead of the golden arches M, it felt more like an ad break. Other product placement is more subtle
At times the writing comes across as frustrating. A certain key principle of Chekhov is followed (again literally). There are also bits of the story that are alluded to, but not really explained. I don't want or expect story elements to be spelt out or telegraphed but it feels a bit like lazy writing that core bits of one of the main characters background isn't even really mentioned, only very subtly hinted at by the book he is currently reading. I'm guessing it's an attempt to be make him more a more appealing everyman. It feels the story could have done with a bit of editing to tie of some of the loose ends. Although I must say despite my criticism the ending is rewarding and hits the mark.
Overall Weathering with is a superb movie. If you liked Your Name, you'll know exactly what to expect and probably enjoy it even more. I could have easily sat through another two hours of this film and the world it presents.
Weathering With You is is released in the UK and Ireland by the excellent people at Anime Limited. You can find a screening near you by visiting weatheringwithyoufilm.co.uk. You can also catch a special double bill screening of Your Name and Weathering With You at selected cinemas on Wednesday 15th January 2020. The film will be released nationwide from Friday 17th January 2020.