Monday, September 2, 2019

Weathering With You 天気の子 Spoiler-Free Review and Some Hina Fanart

For the record, I personally don't care about spoilers, but I'm not one to impose my personal ideals upon others -- and if you disagree with me, then that's the difference between you and me. Food for thought.

Just got back from the cinemas and… “sensually enchanting” would be the most appropriate adjectives that come to mind when it comes to Makoto Shinkai’s latest piece, “天気の子,”  (which was translated to “Weathering With You” for some reason. The accurate translation is “child of the weather” or “weather’s child” or even “girl of the weather”). With that aside, the production values definitely live up to the hype. The movie is basically an audio-visual feast for the senses with an entrancing soundtrack, breathtaking animation, and the cool, calming, yet extremely detailed scenery (and product placements) that anyone familiar with Makoto Shinkai’s previous works might have come to expect. Therefore, over-all, I’d say that the movie was simply a delight to watch and actually quite timely since we’re in the rainy season right now in the Philippines.

The Supernatural And The Mundane

A common motif in Makoto Shinkai’s movies is the marriage of the supernatural and the mundane and this latest movie is no exception. Set in Tokyo, “Weathering With You” presents life in the big city with a tongue-in-cheek approach. We get to see glimpses of the actual living conditions of the everyman (sorry lgbt bbq+, not everyone is interested in your inclusive exclusivity) in Tokyo and particularly, we get to see how life must be like for two teenage runaways, the main characters Hodaka and Hina, and the common problems they face, such as difficulty in finding employment because of being underage. In fact, the movie shows several adult-themes including a brothel, a love hotel (basically a hotel that specializes in romantic couples) and some degree of violence against a minor as well as gunshots.

With that said, these elements all mingle quite naturally with its supernatural elements based on Japanese folklore, which is quite evident in Hina’s apparent power to control the weather.

Strong Supporting Cast

Drawing a comparison to Shinkai’s previous work, while Your Name was all about the two main characters with an only mildly memorable supporting cast, the same cannot be said for Weathering With You. Hina’s ladies man of a little brother Nagi, the ornery yet ultimately kind-hearted Suga, and the charming Natsumi are all very likable characters in their own right who each play a vital role in moving the movie’s plot forward.

A Less Than Stellar But Ultimately Satisfying Plot

Speaking of the plot in general – this is perhaps the movie’s weakest point. While it is by no means a train-wreck of a story, it can get dragging at certain points because of the linear nature of the storytelling. Furthermore, while it can get cathartic at times, it doesn’t really achieve the heights of Shinkai’s older masterpieces such as “5 Centimeters Per Second.”

Yet, while it might not be technically an aesthetically beautiful story, the strongest plot point of this film lies in the final choice made by Hodaka.  I love the fact that he chooses the selfish route and affirms that he’s fine with this in exchange for “changing the world forever.”  This is literally the kind of stuff that got me hooked on anime in the first place. Sometimes it’s not just about saving the world, being the altruistic one and thinking of the common good, nor restoring the status quo – sometimes it’s just about what really makes you happy – and I’m personally quite delighted that Hodaka chose to follow his heart rather than his mind in the movie’s climax.

Fanservice and Nods

Fans who rode the hype train to this movie from Your Name will definitely not be disappointed as far as fanservice goes because you will see some very familiar faces that give subtle nods to the co-existence of the Makoto Shinkaiverse across different films.

Personally, I was amused at the two Pretty Cure cosplayers who enlisted Hina’s service.

Also, it amuses me that main female character is Hina and her little brother is Nagi :)

Some Minor Complaints

I do have some minor complaints about this movie, of course. While the soundtrack is a joy to listen to, I do feel that the use of an insert-song while portraying a timelapse is a bit overused and jarring. It was used only two times in the movie, but that was twice too much for me – especially since I’ve seen it used before in almost the very same fashion in Your Name. It’s not enough to put me off on this movie, but it was a bit distracting.

Furthermore, while the lore behind the supernatural elements in Your Name was fully-fleshed out within the movie, the same cannot be said for Weathering With You. There were definitely attempt at subtle exposition here and there and the lore itself was quite interesting, but I feel that there just wasn’t enough of it crammed into this 2 hour movie for me to feel any sense of connection to the supernatural lore.

Also, as usual, the translation is a bit iffy in spots. Why do they always insist on listing the full name of the character whenever someone says “onee-chan” or uses some similar honorific? I know that calling someone “big sister” doesn’t sound that natural in English, but it’s also pretty off-putting when the subtitles say one thing and the character is obviously saying another. For the record, I don't agree with any of these conventions established by fansubbers as well as professional translators.

Over-all impressions

The lore aside, Hina is cute and that’s a plus for me – always. Over-all, Weathering With You is an aesthetically pleasing feel-good movie with a story that will have you leaving the cinema with a smile on your face.  If you were expecting another “Your Name,” you might feel a bit disappointed, but watch the movie for what it is, and I guarantee you’ll find it quite enjoyable.

Nagi approves of this movie

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