Weathering With You 天気の子 (2019)

Who cares if we can’t see any sunshine? I want you more than any blue sky.

Morishima Hodaka, Weathering With You (2019)

Given how I don’t read movie reviews and therefore do not know what a layout of one should look like, this entire post about Weathering With You will be akin more to a commentary rather than any kind of opinion piece. I have no other anime movies to compare it to, either, except perhaps the 2016 movie Your Name, which I don’t quite count because the two movies are by the same writer / director.

As my regular readers might know by now, I have a basic knowledge of Japanese because it was part of my university degree – a minor, to use the American collegiate term. I also lived in Japan the year Your Name was released in theatres, so that particular movie has a very dear place in my heart.

Finding out that Makoto Shinkai has written a ‘sequel’ to one of my beloved movies was a delight, but it was overshadowed by my move to China for work. The stress of moving countries, starting a new job, and being overtly social to combat the onset of homesickness took a toll and I missed the cinematic release of Weathering With You. There’s nothing quite like experiencing a new movie for the first time on the big screen, and one of my regrets in life is missing out on the cinema showings of both Your Name and Weathering With You.

Which is why I’m so glad that the latter movie was chosen as my post collaboration with Gurezu. I now had the excuse to buckle down, find a copy of the movie, and enjoy another of Makoto Shinkai’s masterpieces. If you want to hear my thoughts about 天気の子 / Weathering With You, grab your preferred hot beverage, settle down on a comfortable chair, and continue reading!

LiberaTarts Watches 天気の子 and Tries Not to Cry Immediately Afterwards

On the Characters

Morishima Hodaka – a teenager who runs away from his little sleepy island town to the hustle and bustle that is Tokyo city

Amano Hina – the titular ‘Child of the Weather’, a.k.a. Sunshine Girl, who has the ability to stop the rain for a specific area and for a limited amount of time

Suga Keisuke – a freelance writer who sees a lot of himself in Hodaka, so he ends up hiring and housing him and becomes a quasi-mentor

Suga Natsumi – a college student who is also Keisuke’s niece; her constant job search during the second half of the movie is especially endearing

Amano Nagisa – Hina’s younger brother who becomes Hodaka’s relationship guru, a.k.a ‘senpai’ even though he’s like ten, which makes him my favourite character by far

BONUS: Miyamizu Matsuha – a salesperson in a mall, but keen-eyed fans would recognise her as one of the main characters from Your Name

BONUS: Tachibana Taki – the grandson of a woman who wanted sunshine for the anniversary of her husband’s death; again, fans would recognise him as the second main character from Your Name

DOUBLE BONUS: Tokyo City – the city played such a huge part in the movie, and not just because the entire story was set there; it would be a disservice to not include Japan’s capital city as a standalone character

On the Cinematography

What I adore about Japanese animated media – at least, from what I’ve observed as I’ve only seen about five – is that its writers and artists have a deep appreciation of their country. You can tell by the way they translate real places onto the big screen. You can totally watch a Japanese animated movie or an anime and actually (in a way) experience the real Japan.

Am I making sense?

Here’s an example: one of the few animes I religiously follow is Yuri!!! on Ice and there is one episode where they go to a skating rink in the Chugoku region for a qualifier competition. The rink they visit? The animators copied the very real building into the show and my life is crazy enough that I had a chance to visit the rink! (This was before I even got into the show, which is quite a ridiculous set of coincidences, if you ask me.)

Anyway, Weathering With You is set in Tokyo and boy does it show love for that city. The bustling streets, Shibuya crossing, the unnatractive yet beautiful criss-cross of Tokyo’s train tracks… watching this movie made me feel like I was living in Tokyo.

On the Narrative

I wouldn’t want to give away too many plot points, as I’m one of those people who absolutely hate being spoiled for shows / movies / books that I actually care about. But the gist of Weathering With You‘s narrative is this: boy meets a girl with supernatural powers, they form a business that somehow manage to capitalise from that power, and nature demands payment in the form of ritual sacrifice.

I’m not saying this movie wasn’t fun and lighthearted, just that it features some heavy emotional and spiritual themes that make you question the world around you and how you’re living in it. The way Tokyo ended up by the end of the movie? *chef’s kiss* I love how humanity rallied and stuck together and managed to build a life despite everything that has happened.

Here are some side plots worth noting, in no particular order:

The gun

Hodaka finding that hidden (and very, very illegal) gun and everyone’s reaction to it, to him having it, and the incredulity in the adults’ responses when they realise a teenager – a child, in their eyes – had access to something to dangerous. Maybe I’m just desensitised to casual gun violence because of American media, but it was very refreshing to witness the gun scenes in Weathering With You.

Nagisa’s playboy antics

A child’s endless charm and his group of close-knit female friends (possible a posse? I’m not quite sure) somehow contributing to the major climax in the narrative. I don’t like it when younger siblings or children in shows / movies are sidelined when the Big Plot Points Are Happening – it diminishes their autonomy and I think that’s very disrespectiful. Kudos to Weathering With You for giving Nagisa some of the best scenes in the entire movie!

Natsumi’s post-college job search

I felt instant kinship for Hodaka when it was revealed that he ran away from home – I, too, wanted out of my small hometown as a teenager – but nothing prepared me for the punch in the gut breathlessness when I realised carefree Natsumi was out there looking for a job after finishing college. The fact that she remains unemployed for the majority of the movie is an accurate portrayal of current state of affairs and… well… I’m not sure if I love it or hate it.

(I secretly love it.)

In Comparison to 君の名は / Your Name (2016)

I find it secretly thrilling when creators add characters from a different project into another one for a brief cameo. It’s like a little Easter egg for the fans that a layperson might not realise is there, or – if they do realise – might not even really care about. It’s like seeing a good friend in a grocery store: you did not expect to see them in your weekly food shop, but aren’t you glad you did so that you can catch up?

The fact that Miyamizu Matsuha and Tachibana Taki are in Weathering With You kinda makes it a sequel, so I feel bad for comparing the two movies. Regardless, with the amount of nostalgia I associate with Your Name and the memories I have to watching and re-watching that movie, I don’t think Weathering With You can ever compare.

From a purely aesthetic perspective… I like night-time space comets over the blinding beauty of a clear blue sky.

From a narrative perspective? I like techno-magical communication that manages to transcend through time (wibbly wobbly timey wimey!) over supernatural powers and carefully kept secrets.

Also, I find that the ending for Weathering With You, while plenty hopeful, was still very sobering when compared to Your Name‘s train station chase and the subsequent「君の。。。名前は?」and then the ‘camera’ pans up and the end credit music plays. You got the breathtaking reunion, the eye-catching visuals, and the wonderful music – it’s a beautiful, beautiful trifecta.

Final Thoughts

I tried not to make my adoration of Your Name cloud my judgement or affect my experience while watching Weathering With You. It’s a fantastic film in its own right, with captivating scenes, endearing characters, and a clear message about nature, humanity, family values… you name it, you can find some aspect of it in Weathering With You‘s story.

The movie’s soundtrack is also very good, and you can bet your bottom dollar that I searched up the OST on Spotify as soon as I had the werewithal to fumble around on my phone. The movie left me speechless from how awesome it was! Can you blame me for taking some time afterwards to process everything that happened?

If you haven’t seen the movie already – or if you have and wanted to re-watch – please do so and let me know what you think! Do you agree with anything I’ve said about it in this post? Do you disagree, and how so? I’m all ears!

RANDOM NOTE – I still subscribe to HMV Japan’s online newsletter even though I don’t live there anymore. Purely for Japanese reading practice, of course, and not because I always yearn to return to Japan for a long holiday… Anyway, Weathering With You‘s Blu-ray and DVD goes on sale next month on May 27th. MARK YOUR CALENDARS, PEOPLE!


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September Reading Challenge

You read that right: September reading challenge.

One of the things that disappointed me the most about university (and believe me, there were a lot!) was the fact that I didn’t have time to read for pleasure. I graduated in July, a few days more than four weeks ago to the day I am writing this post, and it seems paradoxical to me to even admit this, but it’s true: reading for pleasure was not a hobby I pursued at university. There were many reasons to this. some of which are:

  • seminar reading lists
  • lecture reading lists
  • essay and/or project research
  • extra reading (hah, nerd!) for topics I wanted more information on because curiosity is queen
  • part-time job(s)
  • volunteering, and
  • … procrastinating

Suffice to say, I watched a lot of Netflix (and variations thereof) when I was a student. Even though I had plenty of time and opportunities to pick up a book and just read again, I was very reluctant to do so. My eyes got tired a lot, I couldn’t stay up all night speeding through a novel anymore and frankly, reading an e-book didn’t appeal to me at all and I buying non-essential books on a student budget was not feasible at the time.

So now, eight months into 2018, I have challenged myself to do more reading. I have always told my friends that “I can’t wait to start reading again after graduation.” A full-ish month later, here I am in my room not reading a book. To be fair, I pretty much jumped head-first into an internship with full-time work hours and a three-hour total commute… but the sentiment still stands.

I have been reading a lot of Financial Times, mostly because I have lulls during my internship where I technically have to tasks to do so I while away the time by reading my highly curated myFT list of articles – I like to enjoy it while I can, seeing as I piggyback from my university’s subscription and I don’t quite know when my access to FT’s website will stop.

Back to the September Reading Challenge, here are three books I want to finish reading when September ends. (See what I did there?)

LiberaTarts September Reading List

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, a book by Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, a book by Yuval Noah Harari

Bought for £9.99 at WHSmith.

I read Harari’s other book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, at least two years ago back when I was on my year abroad in Japan. I was feeling homesick and wanted something lengthy to read in a language I could understand completely. It was a great read, very insightful, and I look forward to enjoying Homo Deus as much as I did Sapiens.

 

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge book coverWhy I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Bought for £4.49 at WHSmith.

I bought this at the same time as Homo Deus, making use of the Buy 1 Get 1 Off offer the store was peddling at the time. The reason I chose this book was because I always feel wrong-footed whenever the subject of race, ethnicity, or my vague sense of ‘Otherness’ is brought into conversation. Hopefully this book will help me find the middle-ground between “Yes, I’m brown, deal with it” aggression to “Yeah, let’s move on from this…” timidity.

 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan book cover

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

I am loving the hype that the movie adaptation of this novel is getting recently, and I am super upset that the UK will not be showing this film in cinemas until November at the earliest. I half-joked with a friend that I will fly to the US and brave the Trump administration, even for just a week, so that I can have the chance of seeing this movie on the big screen ASAP.

I am a sucker for films and TV shows that are hedonistic in its materialism, and while I understand that there is a heartwarming narrative in this novel, I am just looking forward to a piece of work that features Asian in a context that not revolve around poverty, persecution, and all the troubles that come with that.


So those are my three books to finish by September. I’m taking it easy, choosing pieces that already immensely interest me and giving myself the second half of August as well as the whole of September to reading. If this goes well, I might consider a reading challenge for every month – perhaps even a Halloween themed one for October!

Bring on the -ber months!

Over to you guys: What do you think of my book choices? Tell me about your favourite book and the story behind why they became so! I’m truly curious.