I’m not a big animation watcher, at least not of the big Disney/Pixar variety. But anime is a different story. Films like Spirited Away or Akira feel every bit as “real” as any live action film. The stories are complex and the visuals stunning. I haven’t watched many lately though. But I was happy to return to the genre with Weathering With You. It’s the story of a climate disaster and a teenage girl who has a mysterious power to fix it, alongside a love story set in Tokyo with a runaway boy. It’s a narrative that will probably resonate most with adolescents, but adults will certainly appreciate it for it’s jaw-dropping animation.
It begins with Hodaka running away from home and heading to the big city on a ferry where he nearly loses his life to an enormous storm. He’s saved by an older man who then hits him up for a free meal. Once Hodaka gets to Tokyo though, his dreams of finding work and making his way are dashed. Not only does everyone see that he is underage, but the weather has become one long rain storm and he soon runs out of money for a roof over his head. So he asks the only person he knows in Tokyo for a job. That guy he met on the ferry is an Internet tabloid journalist and hires him to be the office helper, paying him with a roof over his head and food.
When Hodaka was still living hand to mouth, he hung out in McDonald’s and one of the workers was kind to him. That would be Hina, who he later saves from some unsavory men who are trying to force her into working in a club. Not exactly meet cute, but they become friends and it turns out that Hina has a superpower that she hasn’t told anyone about. She can stop the rain and make the sun shine! And soon, Hodaka has talked her into using it to make money. A sunny day for a wedding. A rain-free day for an outdoor market. She’s booked solid. But can it last?
The mythology around a Japanese “sunshine girl” is part of the story and there are definitely supernatural elements that become even more important as the film goes along. There’s also an action film scene or two towards the end. But at it’s heart it’s a love story between two lost teens in a mad world. And it is visually spectacular and somewhat funny, if not the most original story told. I recommend it to anime fans, and to people with teenagers. I think they’d really love it.