Tenki no ko aka Weathering with you follows the story of a runaway teenage boy named Hodaka who is trying to make a life in Tokyo. He starts to work on the story of constant rains with a magazine in the city when he runs into Hina, a girl that can pray to the gods and make the sun shine. But he soon discovers meddling with nature has a price to pay and is left with a world-altering decision to make. Don’t worry, no spoilers in this review.
Just like all his fans, Makoto Shinkai seems to have a hard time forgetting Kimi no Na wa. Tenki no ko is trying very hard to be something new but at the same time is afraid to move away from something audiences loved so much, that it ends up excelling at neither. The movie isn’t bad by any means and I did not expect to see something as good as Your Name anytime soon. The animation quality is as good as it can get with Shinkai’s movies, the soundtrack by RADWIMPS is excellent and even though the supernatural elements to the story are simpler, I think that gives a great opportunity to make excellent characters. But unfortunately, we don’t get that.
Unlike Taki and Mitsuha, I honestly couldn’t articulate these characters even if I was given an hour. Hina especially seems extremely one dimensional considering the fact that she is a girl possessing weather-controlling powers. There were also plenty of opportunities in the narrative to explore Hodaka as a complex character because he makes plenty of interesting and morally questionable decisions. But you are never invested in them because you just don’t seem to know him. The love story as well seems extremely rushed which makes it less believable. This time around, Shinkai hasn’t done his characters well and that is probably my biggest issue with the film. There are a couple of supporting characters, however, that are very interesting and do elevate the scenes they are in.
The narrative is interesting because her powers never make her to seem a superhero but rather someone burdened with responsibility. I was genuinely interested in finding out more about the role she had in the universe, but unfortunately, that isn’t explained much either. And unlike Your Name, the ending to the movie is actually far more complex and far more bittersweet than what appeared on the surface. But Shinkai is so afraid of giving audiences something different than Your Name, he ultimately chickens out and doesn’t highlight it. And that’s weird because he gave us the gut-punch that was 5 Centimeters per second. It’s maybe possible he was under pressure from the studio. I guess we’ll never know.
Another problem is that the movie follows the blueprint of Kimi no Na wa to the T. First act, the characters get to know one another and possibly fall in love. Second act, they realize there’s a price to pay for the supernatural occurring. Third act, characters try to fix things that went wrong. Final act, questionable happy ending. You could even look at the RADWIMPS Soundtrack for this movie and realize that each song in this movie is used in the exact same way in the narrative as they were used in Your Name.
I still enjoyed Tenki no ko and think the overall product was satisfying. There are some excellent scenes that will tug at your heartstrings even if they are for brief moments. The animation is fantastic as usual and there are a couple of scenes that leave you awestruck. But one can’t help but notice the lack of finesse in this movie after watching Your Name. It’s honestly hard to follow up after a success like that and I think the nerves got to Shinkai. And it’s a shame because conceptually the movie is fantastic. There was a great opportunity to create amazing characters, better ones than Taki and Mitsuha. Even the lack of complexity in the supernatural elements makes room for more creativity with the story and it does attempt to do that, but by the end just shies away from it. It’s just what the movie could have been that disappoints me.
Score – 3.5/5
Did you know Indian anime fans pressurized movie theatres and the industry to get this movie released in their country? Read here.