"Weathering With You," her first feature since the 2016 "Your Name" record, confirms Makoto Shinkai's place among the leaders of the new generation of anime directors and writers. In both films, Shinkai turns a seemingly ordinary youth novel into a magical-realistic journey – and a meditation on real social concerns.
Hoping to find a more interesting life than the local school offers, Hodaka Morishima flees to a rain-soaked Tokyo. Fiery and impractical, he brought in very little money and forgot the student card he would have to show to apply for a part-time job. He takes refuge in alleys and a manga cafe all night to escape the incessant rain. Fortunately, he meets two people who offer him life lines.
Unstoppable Keisuke Suga saves Hodaka when he almost gets off the ferry in a storm and gives him a secret job searching for articles for a hidden two-bit magazine. While living on the streets of Shinjuku, Hodaka meets Hina Amano, a kind orphan who is trying to take care of herself and her precocious younger brother Nagisa.
Hina's modest demeanor hides legendary power. She is a time girl, a modern incarnation of a shaman from ancient fables. When Hina prays, the clouds open and sunlight passes through them – for a brief period. Using his skills on the web, Hodaka markets his talent. People hire Hina to get some hours of sunshine for a party, a wedding, a memorial service.
Success brings happiness to Hina, Hodaka and Nagisa and more money than they have ever seen in their difficult existence in the post-bubble Japanese economy. But their idyll is short lived. Hodaka is still a fugitive whose family is looking for him; Hina and Nagisa are minor without legal guardian. The escape from the police forces them to make choices that lead to an unexpected conclusion.
"Weathering" is a brilliantly beautiful movie. Shinkai artists capture micro and macroscopic: the wonder of a raindrop acting like a prism, casting refractions on surrounding surfaces, and the glow produced by light shining through the clouds. Tokyo almost becomes another character in the movie, and the light and water falling over the city offer a counterpoint to Hina and Hodaka's actions. As he did in "His Name," Shinkai suggests that magic exists in the everyday world if the viewer just looks for it.
Hodaka and Hina may not have the intelligence and determination of Taki and Mitsuha, the incompatible couple in "Your Name." But they are attractive characters, and their adventures allow Shinkai to examine two terrible problems that many young people in Japan feel powerless to overcome.
Even if he had the necessary ID card, Hodaka could not make a living as a part-time in Tokyo. He and Hina would remain trapped on the margins of society with little hope of progress. The lifetime employment and comfortable wages that characterized the postwar "economic miracle" in Japan are fast becoming things of the past. An increasing number of young people face limited prospects for financial security and marriage.
The constant rains flooding Tokyo in "Weathering" suggest a metaphor for global climate change. As young people from around the world, Hodaka and Hina are trapped in the increasingly inhospitable, warming planet that previous generations have left them. Shinkai's sensitive treatment of these real-world problems gives the "Weathering With You" fantasy a thought-provoking advantage that many of America's most upscale animated films lack.
& # 39; Resist with you & # 39;
In Japanese, with English subtitles and dubbed English versions
Rated: PG-13, for suggestive material, some violence and language
Runtime: 1 hour, 51 minutes
Playing: Begins on January 17 in limited version; with fan show January 15 and 16