Weathering with You
Year:  2019
Director: Shinkai Makoto

It's Tokyo. And it is raining. But it is always raining in Tokyo. Sometimes a whisper of a drizzle or a steady rain like a drumbeat that plays at an all night party and then at times the torrential rains come suddenly and drown the city in a minute of a moment. And even more peculiar are the times the sky just buckets down on a few feet of land with a huge blast of water leaving fish flopping in their surprise to be earthbound. When momentary rays of sunshine cut through the clouds, people hang on to it as you would a long lost lover that you know will disappear on you again.

Hodaka, a 16 year old runaway from a small suffocating town, is on a boat to Tokyo when one of these rain blasts catch him and almost drags him overboard but he is caught at the last moment by Suga, who then bums a meal off of him. Once in Tokyo Hodaka can find no work or place to stay and ends up sleeping in doorways or napping in McDonalds - where a young girl working there takes pity on him and gives him a burger. Later he sees her being accosted by a Sex Recruiter to work in a bar - when she agrees Hodaka grabs her and runs away. Meet cute with Hina. Two years older than he is and taking care of her young brother since their mother died. Hodaka ends up finding Suga again and stays with him and Natsumi who is always accusing Hodaka of starring at her cleavage - what 16 year old boy wouldn't. A fortune teller tells him that there are Rain Girls, Fox Girls and Sun Girls with powers. Turns out Hina is a Sun Girl who can stop the rain in a small area for a short period of time - she is connected to the sky. But with powers come sacrifice and she is disappearing.

This animation from Shinkai Makoto is rather marvelous. A teen love story in a world sinking in water where magic and the mystical converge. He directed the earlier Your Name (2016) which I thought was dazzling. The animation here matches it. Sometimes it feels as if the story itself is almost secondary to the animation which is just so satisfying. Incredibly detailed at times as he pictures Tokyo as a city of neon, ads, small shops, sex parlors, winding alley ways, vending machines and droplets of reflecting rain. And then he pulls back and amazing cityscapes emerge of a city going about its business - trains running, people rushing to work, cars honking - all dwarfed by the giant skyscrapers that surround them and keep the water in.

It is perhaps too long coming in near 2 hours, the ending felt like it needed some work on it, I wish he didn't use the standard anime faces but gave them more detail (weird when he gives a cigarette pack more detail than faces - but that is the anime way), not sure if the many pop songs add to the mood or detract from the narrative - but these are small criticisms for a wonderfully ambitious film. I wish I understood the creative process behind something like this because to me it looks so complicated.

After each Japanese animation I watch, I give the same old complaint like a broken record - why can't American animation be more like this. The Japanese combine a great emotional story with artistic ambitions while American animation from Disney or Pixar is just consumable computer generated pap. Funny yes; even emotional yes, but ultimately something to watch and forget. No one raves about the actual animation. I think we are so dumbed down in our expectations of our animation that we are satisfied with such pedestrian workmanship. Just my opinion.