The latest Shinkai film outperforms “Your Name”

By Yasmeen Ali 

Staff Writer

Makoto Shinkai has held himself to a higher standard of story writing after the success of his first movie, “Kimi no Nawa.” On Jan. 17, 2020, Shinkai’s second movie, “Tenki no Ko” (known in America as “Weathering With You”), was released, and many fans took the theaters by storm. The movie was highly anticipated after the trailer’s release and gained a lot of attention from the breathtaking cover. 

DISCLAIMER: There are spoilers ahead if you keep reading.

The movie takes place in Japan where we encounter a runaway high school freshmen, Hodaka, taking a boat to Tokyo. We follow Hodaka as he struggles to find a job that will support him as an underaged worker. He eventually finds a small journalism team that provides him with food, money, and shelter.

He eventually meets a girl, Hina, who can control the weather. We also meet other supporting characters of the story; although they don’t gain as much screen time or development, they are able to portray their own personalities through their character designs and are able to help influence and build the main characters, specifically Hodaka. Supporting characters of the story are mostly shown during the scenes of Hina and Hodaka venturing off to earn money through the usage of her powers. The film also presents a small young love story between the two characters as they spend more time together. 

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This is a fanart of Hodaka and Hina falling in the sky by _yami.puff_ on Instagram. ART CREDIT: Yasmeen Ali

“Tenki no ko” is a drama fantasy that sends a message to the audience regarding the weather and how it affects people’s everyday lives. The film exemplifies people’s complex emotions that come with the changing weather and environment through the message it sends to the audience. 

Based on the different interactions Hodaka and Hina encounter with clients, the theme of the story could be identified as a look into what happens when adolescents are faced with life as an adult. “Tenki no Ko” is a beautifully put together story for the audience to enjoy.

Before the release of “Tenki no ko,” Shinkai had multiple works such as ”Voices of a Distant Star,” “The Place Promised in Our Early Days,” followed by “5 Centimeters per Second,” and more. However, one of the more recent and praised animated movies he’s directed is his award-winning “Kimi No Nawa” (Your Name) that engrossed many into the complex story of body swapping and time traveling. This movie created such a large fanbase that he gained much support and anticipation for his next masterpiece.

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This is an image from the trailer to “Weathering With You.” PHOTO CREDIT: GKIDS Films

Although many have claimed him to be the next Miyazaki (co-founder of Studio Ghibli, creator of “Spirited Away”) after “Kimi no Nawa,” he denied the compliment and continued to carefully develop “Tenki no Ko” to dethrone his work from before. For every movie that Shinkai creates, his works improve his message, character development, and plot as he strives to create a better story than its predecessor.

It can be said that Shinkai’s abilities in both storytelling and animation have improved drastically since his first film “Voices of a Distant Star.” His development can be seen through his past works as he’s built up each of his strengths to reach the well-thought-out “Tenki no Ko.” As anticipated and stunning as the movie was, because of the increased fanbase for his previous work, it almost immediately gained a lot of hype, setting increased, unrealistic expectations for Shinkai. He’s expressed his concern about his increased popularity which impacts the number of critic reviews and attention he’s receiving for his works.

On the other hand, I also believe Shinkai’s work is indeed something that should be praised specifically for his development of plot and pacing that works well to keep his audience encaptured within the story.

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This is an image from the trailer to “Weathering With You.” It presents Hodaka (left)  and Hina (right). PHOTO CREDIT: GKIDS Films

Every scene placed in the movie held importance. This is seen especially when Shinkai is able to add his touch of character angst with scenes of Hodaka’s struggle in the movie when he tries to find a place to stay. It emphasizes his inner conflict as a runaway; however, it leaves the audience to ponder about another potential conflict of the main characters since most of them deal with family problems. 

During the movie, we are able to see more of Hina’s background near the climax that eventually leads her to discover her newfound connection to the weather. Through the emotional development of the scene, Shinkai begins to tie together human emotions with the weather through the form of Hina’s wish to bring happiness to the people around her. By giving Hina the ability to change the weather, he portrays her ability as the alleviation to people’s negative emotions; the more they cover or push those emotions down, the worse the outcome is when they finally release their thoughts. 

Every scene of the movie is a beautiful aesthetic masterpiece for the audience to take in. The environment of rain was consistent and was able to express multiple emotions. Shinkai was able to not only produce memorable character designs as he did for his last movie but also breathtaking backgrounds parallel to his attention to detail in “Garden of Words.”  

Compared to Shinkai’s past works, “Tenki no Ko” is an astonishing improvement as a work on its own, and it’s an emotionally touching story centered around climate change. 

Overall, I believe that Shinkai has yet again created another great masterpiece; however, it may be a bit more overhyped than it should be. He creates an engrossing story for people to connect to on a deeper level, but he has the potential for more improvement. His massive amount of followers for his top-grossing movies both pressures him and draws extra attention to his work. This allows him to gain lots of praise but critics as well.

I would say “Tenki no Ko” is a great movie that I would definitely watch again, mostly for the beautiful animation and unique plot, though there are little details of the movie that are left unanswered. It has the emotional depth to draw out the audience’s emotions and can be said to be one of Shinkai’s best works for the time being until his next movie.

Featured Art (at the top of this post): @ricodzart on Instagram and @ricoDZ on Deviantart

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