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  • Shona McCarthy

天気の子 : Weathering with You (2019)


(Copyright Madman Entertainment, 2019)

Hina is a very special girl. When she prays, the weather changes. But it comes at a price.

Thanks to some wonderful friends, I had the delight and pleasure of seeing "Weathering You" or "Tenki no Ko" in Melbourne Museum's IMAX Theatre last year. Why am I writing a film review in a travel blog? When you're done reading my review, maybe you'll understand.

The film opens with young Hodaka deciding that he wants to leave his hometown for the big city; Tokyo. Something you need to know is that when the film's maker, Makoto Shinkai, depicts Tokyo, he is always referencing reality. It's his hometown. So, as with Your Name. (2016), people who know Tokyo well will be able to spot landmarks and streets they recognise.

However, Shinkai's films should be understood to represent a kind of heightened reality. Shinkai depicts water, light and the sky so that you feel weightless as you watch his films. You can feel how much Shinkai loves his homeland and how much he loves sunlight itself in each frame where Hana reveals her powers. And each time she does, Shinkai knows how to make it feel as though you're seeing sunshine for the first time.

(Copyright Madman Entertainment, 2019)

Having visited Tokyo only earlier in 2019, I found Hodaka's bewilderment at Tokyo highly relatable. "Tokyo is scary." He says at one point. Indeed, someone who starts out in a relatively quiet region will find Tokyo busy, loud and confusing. Something that the films of Makoto Shinkai beautifully depicts is the Japanese traditional belief that all people are on some level connected. We get this sense in the scenes where Hana gives Hodaka a free Big Mac (and yes, you can get all kinds of delicious burgers in Tokyo, including the Big Mac). You also see this in the scene where Hodaka is given work and a place to stay by Keisuke. Outwardly, Keisuke seems like he doesn't care about anyone or anything. But the implications of his words and actions always give his true heart away. It's this kind of subtlety and depth that makes the characters in Shinkai's films feel somehow more real; more alive. You feel as though the characters somehow become your friends, or that they are like people you already know.

(Copyright Madman Entertainment, 2019)

One of the things that makes this film remarkable is that it is like a quiet tour through anime feature history. People who have seen Spirited Away (2004) will recognise the scene where Hana and Hodaka are floating in the sky together. Viewers who watched the original Battle Angel Alita (1993) will find the scene where Hana and Hodaka argue in the abandoned building oddly familiar. And fans of Tokyo Godfathers (2003) will find the scenes of Hodaka sleeping rough somehow haunting. The images of a flooded Tokyo might be a reference to Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995). There are probably other pop-cultural references I didn't pick up on. But the most exciting for Shinkai buffs are the cameos made by Taki and Mitsuha, the main characters from Your Name (2003). I won't tell you where to look for them, since finding them for yourself is part of the thrill.

But what is hard to really communicate in written form is how truly magical and beautiful the film is in terms of how it depicts Tokyo. In another post, I made it abundantly clear that I had a really difficult time making my way through Tokyo's main stations, including Shinjuku, which is depicted in both Your Name (2016) and Weathering With You (2019). You get to go on a journey through so many distinct scenes and scenery with the characters; to watch them interact with that specific vision of Japan. If you can't go on a vacation but you could use one right now, this is one movie you should see. Even as we left the theatre, one of my friends remarked that they had been finding their course very stressful, but that watching the film had made them feel somehow better.

So go watch Weathering With You (2019). Even if anime isn't really your thing. Even if films aren't really your thing. Even if Japan isn't really your thing. Even if all of these things are the case for you, watch it with both eyes open and be transported into a land above the clouds.

You can visit the official Australian website for the film for information on how you can access the film in Australia: https://www.madmanfilms.com.au/weathering-with-you/ Or if you are from other countries, you should be able to Google for more information.

(Copyright Madman Entertainment, 2019)

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