Three years after the theatrical release of the worldwide blockbuster hit your name., Makoto Shinkai and CoMix Wave Films return to the cinemas with the much-anticipated release of their anime film Weathering With You.
The anime film will finally have its general screening in Philippine cinemas on Wednesday, August 28, which is distributed by Pioneer Films.
There is certainly a tremendous pressure on Shinkai and his team to surpass the visuals and storytelling of your name. now that all eyes are on him, possibly including the eyes of award-giving bodies. Can Weathering with You succeed in this goal, or will it be just a duplicate of its predecessor?
Before anything else, let me give a short, spoiler-free summary of Makoto Shinkai’s latest work:
The film is about Hodaka Morishima, a high school freshman who ran away from his home in an isolated island to the bustling city of Tokyo, but he faced many challenges and eventually become broke. The city he decided to call home has been suffering rains day-by-day, as if it symbolizes his life. As an act of desperation, Hodaka had decided to work as a writer for a shady occult magazine.
While working, Hodaka met Hina Amano, a strong-willed girl who is living alone with her little brother due to various circumstances. Despite her cheerful demeanor, she has unique and wonderful ability. Hina has the power to stop the rain and clear the sky by just praying.
Let me stop there before I gave away too much information, because I plan to focus this review mostly on the aesthetic aspect of the film.
As I have mentioned, there is tremendous pressure on Shinkai and his team to surpass his most popular work. In my opinion, he has certainly succeeded in recreating parts of Tokyo in the movie, like their almost-accurate portrayal of the buildings in Shinjuku and the train stations.
On the flipside, we are no longer treated with the same contrasting urban and rural environments as seen in your name. because of the film being mostly set in Tokyo. The contrast this time comes from the portrayal of “light” and “dark” aspects of the film, depicting light scenes with vibrant colors and dark scenes with a few dramatic effects.
There are also significant improvements on the the film’s visual effects, such as the way raindrops are visualized, as well as the little things like street signs and even a friggin’ BigMac.
Shinaki also seems to be experimenting on 3D animation in the film particularly in one scene, as if trying to mimic a drone shot. This still needs some improvement as it looks a bit awkward in relation to the rest of the film.
The movie itself is littered with brand placements, which is understandable considering the wealth of financial backing behind this film as your name., which was at one point the highest-earning anime film of all time. Although I find the product placements quite odd, they somehow made the film more visually realistic.
Personally, I’m a bit curious on how film distributors around the world will deal with this quandary, would it be erased like how Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion television series removed the Pizza Hut logo or would they just be ignored.
The soundtrack is just as great as expected. RADWIMPS has truly mastered how to create music that suits every mood and scene in the movie, making a huge impact in the process.
I’m quite sure that Makoto Shinkai doesn’t want to be defined by his previous works, which is why it is nice to see him add more depth into his latest work.
Weathering with You has taken the time to tell its story, develop the characters and their storylines in the viewers’ minds before reaching the exciting and emotional climax, which is a departure from the whirlwind drama storytelling of your name.
There are also some subtle social and environmental commentaries laced into the film, making it relatable to everyone in the real world. There is still some humor in between the more serious scenes, but fans should also watch out for the exciting (but totally expected) cameos by some familiar faces.
There are still several places where the movie falls flat, particularly in its character development. I’ve observed that all the lead roles in the film have developed as fully-rounded characters, except for Hodaka.
For some reason, the movie failed to show his family or his life in the island, making his character somehow feel incomplete. It also didn’t elaborate on why he would rather live in poverty in Tokyo instead of returning home.
Also, don’t expect to get a cliffhanger ending like what we saw in your name. Although it’s surely the kind of ending that people want, Shinkai chose to do something different in this film, but it made the ending scene feel a bit rushed in the process.
But I should warn everyone not underestimate this movie, because it would still make you feel like you’re in a rollercoaster of emotions, especially with its thrilling turns.
Shinkai may have used similar themes from your name. like mythical powers, high school students and Shintoism, Weathering with You is certainly no duplicate.
While Weathering with You provides a different experience compared to his previous films, it can still invoke powerful emotions to its viewers. Some may feel that the film cannot surpass its predecessor, but in its own unique way, it can definitely stand on its own.
Weathering With You opens on August 28, in cinemas nationwide, distributed locally by Pioneer Films. For the latest updates, please like their anime-centric page at facebook.com/animemoviesphilippines.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect the views of Anime Pilipinas, its members, partners, and colleagues. If you have comments or reactions, please email at [email protected].