Weathering with You is not just another Your Name
Ach ja, yesterday, I watched Weathering with You with two friends and we really liked it. To be perfectly clear, my honest intention was to low-key clown on the movie, given as my impression of it up to this point, solely based on the surprisingly few comments I heard about the movie, was it being a weaker version of Your Name – a movie I don’t even consider to be actually that bad in a lot of ways, but can’t bring myself to like also and thus it claims the spot of “Popular anime I don’t want to like because everyone else sees so much more in it than I do and I don’t understand why”. Really, I am the worst kind of reactionary critic.
Also, Weathering with You basically begs to be compared to Your Name. Though I haven’t seen all of his prior movies, Makoto Shinkai does seem to pretty closely follow a certain formula in his works: A boy and a girl trying to close the distance between them caused by supernatural happenings and overcoming their own hang-ups via their love for each other. And no, I do not remember the plot of The Garden of Words anymore, so no point in correcting me in my potentially wrong assumption, but, I am pretty confident applying this reading to both movies at hand is not that far-fetched, so let’s run with it.
However, I am normally not that big a fan of singing praises of single media by comparing it to another one. Weathering with You is a good movie, whether Your Name exists or not, but considering how much Weathering with You addresses and improves upon flaws I found myself annoyed by in Your Name, the comparison comes naturally for me, even if my point is not to put one above the other. It is also not like I could ever make a case for it, considering how the consensus seems to be that Weathering with You is a weaker Your Name. Like, I obviously disagree and am about to explain why, but who am I to argue against something I barely understand myself. There are many hills to die atop, but this one ain’t mine.
In general, I think Weathering with You is quite tightly written and has some good clarity to it with the supernatural aspect being less intertwined into the narrative structure, even if it might cause a subsequent rewatch to be less interesting, as the bulk of the movie doesn’t necessarily need to depend on the supernatural. For the most part, the story is really simple with two people meeting under their own circumstances, eventually falling in love and then overcoming the third-act climax that is apparently necessary (It is not, really). Compared to the convoluted mess that is Your Name’s half-way twist, this gave Weathering with You time to breath and fully focus on its characters, whether you think the relatively small amount of time sells the romance between Hodoka and Hina or not, though I could at least read it a bit more as a romance than the special connection between Mitsuha and Taki in Your Name, which was then played as a relatively straight and classic romance in its own right (I am still not over Your Name being a completely different movie compared to what I wanted it to be).
But while Your Name was then carried by its plot, Weathering with You takes a more slice-of-life approach with less high stakes, giving us a greater focus on the extended cast instead. To be frank, everyone besides the two main characters in Your Name do not matter that much. Taki’s friends are mostly just there, Mitsuha’s friends help with the plot and not even the hot older woman character holds up. Compared to Your Name, Weathering with You builds actual characters and interactions between them. Keisuke, beyond just being a fun character, not only has his own things going on, but builds himself up as a sort of parallel to Hodaka, having experienced similar circumstances beyond just having ran away from home. Him being one of “sunshine girl”’s clients was also a nice touch. Hina’s brother also gets time to shin, with him not only being limited to interaction between his sister, but Hodoka and other characters as well. He is also just a giant chad. Using his ex- and current girlfriend to fool the police was hilarious and a massive W. Natsumi falls slightly flat, but still does get to act on her own and is not reduced to following and helping any character around
If there is one character I don’t consider that well written, it is Hina. While I don’t think agency is a must, and her still being a fun character to be around and bounce off Hodaka’s less confident charisma, I was still disappointed that she was kind of reduced to a plot device by the end. It was Hodaka who actively made decisions, while Hina was mostly subjugated to the supernatural events happening to her. It always bums me out a bit if the two main characters don’t get the same importance ascribed to them. Hodaka has his own arc, started his own journey long before meeting Hina in the first place and I fully believe him becoming the character in the end of the movie, deciding to save Hina instead of the weather. On the other hand, I feel like the role of the “sunshine girl” could have been taken over by a plethora of characters, not limited to Hina specifically, as she barely does something on her own beyond deciding to sacrifice herself and causing the climax of the movie.
Another aspect I feel like Weathering with You handles better than Your Name are the consequences of the supernatural on everyone “not in the know”. This is a more general gripe I have with most supernatural series, but I often feel almost uncomfortable with characters doing something if it concerns other people outside the characters acting upon the supernatural and Your Name is a peak example of that. Mitsuha not only convinces her two friends to take over the village intercom and blow up a transformer station, but also tries to evacuate everyone from an incoming meteor. Sure, she and the audience know this is necessary and true, but for everyone else, this must seem like she has lost her mind. Even Taki’s goal to find a girl he doesn’t know exists looks tame and almost reasonable by comparison. Scenes like Mitsuha confronting her father are great drama and can utilize the dichotomy of the aforementioned situation to great effect, see Re:Zero, but personally, they always make me cringe and uncomfortable to the point I would rather not like to see them.
Weathering with You basically dodges this “problem”, by layering its conflicts with more grounded problems only indirectly connected to the supernatural happenings. Just imagine explaining the climax of the movie to any sane in-universe person: “The girl didn’t run away, but was taken to the world above the clouds, I have to go through this toori gate at the roof of this abandoned, partially destroyed building to reach her and bring her back and I don’t care if Tokyo will be submerged by rain because of it” and then there is the police officer like, “Boy, I am here because you ran away from home and somehow got hold of a firearm. What are you even talking about?”. The Weather is simply allowed to be, with almost everything revolving around it being connected to something else too.
I am pretty glad the adults in the movie don’t have to actually acknowledge the supernatural elements in the world to give them validity. Im mean, Keisuke didn’t help Hodaka because he necessarily believes him, but instead understands his feelings for Hina due to his own lost love and the police is not some evil force that tries to stop our two teenage protagonist from doing an important thing, but a… well, a police doing their job. Hell, even other kinds of unnecessary conflict were omitted by not bringing up characters like the pimp Hina and Hodaka had an encounter with early in the movie. This all makes the movie flow a bit better, because you don’t get the feeling of having another rock thrown in your way of enjoying what the actual movie is about.
This all hopefully brings me to my main point: Maybe Weathering with You and Your Name might not actually be that similar at all. Sure, the premise might be the same and both movies try their best to end on a similar note, though Weathering with You’s climax is arguably more personal and closely connected to the bulk of the movie, but everything inbetween could be described as its own, at least to a point where I would never call one its another. Your Name is a supernatural movie that leads into a romance by twisting its initial slice-of-live premise, while Weathering with You feels more akin to a movie about characters coming together in several ways and dealing with their problems using their new-found bonds, with the supernatural simply being another layer of, but not intrinsically part of it. And if anything, I hope I made the point of Weathering With You not simply being a watered down version of Your Name.
Of course, if someone wants asks for recommendations, these two movies will fall pretty closely to each other, but it is not like one could not explain the individual appeal of each movie. Basically, Weathering with You is not just another Your Name and I hope other people will be able to see it as well. At the very least, one has a Pretty Cure reference and the other one doesn’t.
Fun fact: I initially wanted to name the article “Weathering with Your Name”, because I thought this would be a very clever title, but considering it makes no sense, or at least not in the way I want it to, I had to unfortunately drop it.
Weathering with You is available on Netflix.
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