The advancement of technology has reduced the time cost of human task. One would expect that such accomplishment in efficiency would give the person spare time, adequate enough to look around, to show concern, and to appreciate his/her existence. However, the sad reality for society turned out to be the opposite. Taking everything for granted, reshaping nature, obsessing for wealth, and employing a system and culture of exploitation, instead of being rewarded more time, the person was overwhelmed with more work.
Not having the luxury of time, for that person, it was as if time was moving relatively fast, accelerating towards a certain direction. And at the cost of happiness, the road was seemingly gloomy, as if one of those days being confined in one somber room, with the undertone of the gray sky casting over what that person was fixated upon. The confinement extended hauntingly in life, where human only tend to look after themselves within the confines of their comfort zones.
Even if people are accelerating towards one specific direction across the gloomy of the rainy scenery and unable to veer away by themselves amidst the impending deluge which would spell destruction, it would take just a simple happenstance of a tremendous force to force them out of that path, to look around, and to see that patch of sunlight amidst the rain.
And upon this relatively rainy month of August came the premier of Makoto Shinkai’s new movie Weathering With You (Japanese Title: 天気の子 ; Hepburn: Tenki no Ko; Lit: Child of Weather) to the Philippine theaters. It centers upon a teenage girl named Amano Hina (天野陽菜; CV: Mori Nana) seeing a pool of sunlight amidst the exceptionally poor rainy weather that was dominating over Japan from her dying mother’s death bed.
In a period where people tended not to care, where the only things that matter to them are the ones they hold dear , where they treat other matters as objects outside of their figurative room to be peered momentarily only through the window that they put up, her overwhelming desire to wish for that pool of light that she saw to grace upon her mother’s hospital room window was what pushed Hina, who just as most people in their youth was ever curious, into departing from that room to see the shrine within that pool of light.
She chose to go there. She chose to care. And she chose to make that seemingly futile wish within her prayers.
And that care was what made the mythical creatures residing within that shrine to choose her as its weather priestess (天気の巫女; Tenki no miko), the one who’ll deliver the sunshine amidst the rain, which was the thing that Morishima Hodaka (森嶋帆高; CV: Daigo Kotaro) was thankful for in its brief appearance within the tempestuous skies hovering over the ferry that he was on. As if it represented the vibrant life that he expected on Tokyo, for Hodaka, that elusive pool of light was what convinced him to run away from home as just like the rain, it represented the gloominess that loomed over it. Even so, Hodaka, knowing how arbitrary metaphors can be, also interpreted the rain as the metaphor for a blessing-in-disguise, a blessing to his freedom.
Just like most things, too much freedom can harm people and so was to the rain, as the freakish downpour almost swept Hodaka away. But thanks to Suga Keisuke (須賀圭介; CV: Oguri Shun), Hodaka was saved from being swept off the ferry. Instead he was swept of expenses of treating Suga-san for a meal and a drink as thanks of saving him. Being delighted of being his savior, Suga-san gave Hodaka his calling card, having a gut feeling that Hodaka would soon find it hard to live alone in Tokyo, especially work for a living.
And indeed, Hodaka struggled to support himself, since he was running low on cash and he was underage to even work legal. He wandered places upon places as he inquired and inquired upon Yahoo! Answers, which in its trademark hilarity, had users suggested being assistant to sex clubs for Hodaka. And upon hoping of being actually hired on those clubs, Hodaka loitered within those red-light districts, while being chased by the police as it was illegal for a minor to go there. He was constantly kicked out, sometimes even on garbage bins, on which he discovered a gun tucked within the pile of trash.
Already living in a Manbo (Computer shop), he further cut his expenses by settling with cheap meals in McDonalds, where Hina was working at that time. Hina, ever caring towards others, treated Hodaka for a free meal.
Touched by her outward attitude, Hodaka decided to rely upon others and finally called up Suga-san to ask for a job. On the way, Hodaka was still wet behind his ears as he surmised that Tokyo would never run out of wonders, as do that playboy kid that Hodaka encountered who seemingly never ran out of girls to meet. The wonders of technology has brought Hodaka to Suga-san’s office with no issues, where Hodaka was welcomed with the wonders of the sight of Natsumi’s (夏美; CV: Honda Tsubasa) breast, and brought him to his manhood, on which he denied when he was busted (no pun intended) by Natsumi. Seeing how Natsumi freeloaded in Suga-san’s place, contrary to him being hired as a stay-in houseboy and assistant, Hodaka, wanting to place definitions right away to put him at ease, ignorantly assumed that she was Suga-san’s mistress.
Together with Natsumi and as a source for his living, Hodaka investigated the urban legends that surround the persisting inclement weather in Tokyo. The two learned about the legend of the “Sunshine girl” (晴れ女; Hepburn: Hare onna) and the “Rain girl” (雨女; Hepburn: Ame onna), a psychic that supposedly can control the weather.
And amidst the weather that the Sunshine Girl can control, Hodaka crossed paths again with Hina who was being dragged by the shady club boss that he encountered earlier. He could have just turned a blind eye to the atrocity that was unfolding before him, just like most people in society do. Hodaka knew that he would suffer inconvenience if he were to meddle, but still, showing care was the only way to assert and enforce what we deemed as right, even though it was futile. That futility landed upon Hodaka as punches from the club boss who eventually subdued Hodaka and his attempt to save Hina who turned out to be willing into accept the job, being fired from her previous job.
Even so, for Hodaka, it was still outright wrong, and he made that statement through the barrel of the gun that he found earlier. The trailer got us there into thinking that the gun had to do something with the mortality of our main characters. Thankfully, that was not the case. In a string of irony, he asserted that righteousness through wrongful means and Hina was enraged on Hodaka’s interference as she brought Hodaka to the abandoned building where she got her powers. Eventually, upon atonement of the gunshot earlier and communicating his intent infused with courage and concern, Hodaka was eventually forgiven by Hina who then demonstrated to him that she can make the skies clear by simply praying.
The sight of the parting skies giving light also gave light to the opportunities that presented upon the two, and just like a light bulb switching on, Hodaka, inspired by the story of the “Sunshine girl”, suggested that they should make the sunshine-delivering business of Hina into a money-making one.
Even though the intent of their startup business was to deliver light, the humble beginnings of Hodaka, Hina, and her younger brother Nagi were rather shady with their poor art design and their embarrassing “rituals” while donning embarrassing costumes. But of course, convenience was not an option for them, neither to their costumers who simply wished for the skies to clear up for their special events. The intents of their customers varied, like being able to cosplay in public, making the perfect wedding photos, raising the sales of their respective stalls, and even having the fireworks festival continue. Hina’s services gained prominence and so was the attitude of the people of taking her for granted.
But that power came at a great price as Suga-san and Natsumi investigated the urban
legend surrounding the “Sunshine Girl”. Sunshine girls are actually weather shrine maidens who ultimately sacrificed themselves for the sake of good weather. Even so, for Hina, she found her passion into further offering her services as she found her place in the world and her purpose in life with appreciation from people like the folks in the Tachibana residence, including Taki from Shinkai Makoto’s previous work Your Name triggering a wild reaction from the movie-goers, or rather normies who thought of themselves as otaku by simply watching Your Name, while the real otakus like me were just like “cool”. Also my girlfriend, who was watching beside me, became puzzled on why people were making a great fuss about Taki’s appearance.
Unlike her not realizing that it was Taki right away, Nagi was quick to realize that Hodaka was crushing on his elder sister. He offered Hodaka a sage advice, which had Hodaka begun to refer to Nagi as his “senpai”, and which had my girlfriend looking at me in slight contempt as if my playbook that was hiding was discovered. Nagi’s advice had then Hodaka looking for something to give, in order to connect more with Hina. And who’s more reliable into giving the connections than Mitsuha herself (hence another wild reaction from the normies) – still donning her kumihimo hair ornament – who suggested gifting Hina a rather intimate item, just like Suga-san gifting his daughter a moment of sunshine in order for them to be together as his mother-in-law regularly disallowed him due to the inclement weather that would be dangerous for his asthmatic daughter. While the main cast spent time in the park, Natsumi informed Hina that despite her best intentions, there were rammifications due to her actions.
Those moments of happiness made people cling on to their present, to wish that the happiness would last forever, and to wish that they would always be together. Every time we take advantage will incur consequential aftermaths, as if they were debts. There would be a time where those debts would be exacted from us as consequences. Maybe both Hina and Hodaka took advantage on the turn of events too much, as their supposedly futarikiri (only two of them together in a room) and his impending love confession was interrupted by the police knocking upon the door.
Maybe both Hina and Hodaka also turned out to be guilty like most people, into not caring. Maybe they were so much preoccupied into treasuring their present together that they forgot to care what circumstances surrounded them. At Hina’s place, while Hodaka was hiding in the bathroom, the police (one of them maybe a fan of Josuke Higishikata from Jojo) question Hina if she encountered Hodaka before. Hodaka’s parents were revealed to have filed a missing person report and the police were there to bring him back. And just like that, the situation deteriorated further as the police informed Hina, who along with her brother were minors with no legal guardian, that social services would be called in to have custody of her brother Nagi.
The police also questioned Suga-san about Hodaka and being his accomplice. Thus, not wanting to have his application for custody of his daughter go in jeopardy, sought out Hodaka to fire him, to give him his severance pay, and to warn Hodaka that he would be facing further consequences if he were to aggravate the situation. Also wanting the best for Hodaka, Suga-san also gave him a hat as a parting gift. And not wanting to part ways with both Hina and his senpai Nagi, Hodaka made up his mind to run away with both of them.
The three sought accomodation, however due to the deteriorating weather – with the rain transforming into snow – most of the hotels that they went it had full booking. Also the trio had their hands full of evading the people. They were almost caught. But a prayer of desperation from Hina sent a bolt of lightning to hit a truck causing it to explode violently.
That reminded Hina that she maybe was using her powers too much and that holding on to everything was meaningless as her demise loomed upon the shocking discovery that much of her body as she revealed to Hodaka in a not-a-strip-tease moment (not strip tease, because she’s becoming transparent, so there’s nothing to show) that she’s slowly disappearing and that the only way for the abnormal weather – that she herself caused – to disappear was for her to disappear as well. Hodaka didn’t want that to happen. And pitting himself against the world that didn’t care, he promised to Hina that he would protect her as he presented the gift that he was holding on for so long: a ring.
But Hina, always caring for others, decided to disappear, but not before giving her farewells to the people that she cared. Both Hodaka and Nagi were terrified and anguished by the realization that Hina sacrificed herself to the sake of many. But to rub salt to the wound, the people didn’t seem to care as they took the unusually hot morning that followed as the police didn’t heed their cries for help as the two were apprehended.
Just like how Hina lied about her age (revealing that she was younger than Hodaka) in order to work, the society that unveiled before Hodaka was a utilitarian one who only cared about the numbers and the benefit of the many. In a utilitarian world where the convenience of many was the only concern, not bothering that they had to sacrifice a few in the process, the only way to rebel against and exposed the stench behind the righteousness of that world was to defy its machinations. Hodaka forcefully escaped from the police station. The situation was now in testy waters, not only figuratively but also literally with the flood waters slowing down all activities, including the police that were chasing after Hodaka who then hitched a ride upon Natsumi’s motorcycle. Natsumi found her passion into becoming a speedy police officer, only after those literal testy waters…ergo knee-deep waters… finally stopped her fast-and-the-furious motorcycle on its tracks.
Nagi, meanwhile, concocted an escape plan with his sidechicks, namely Kana (CV: Hanazawa Kana!!!) and Sakura (CV: Sakura Ayane!!!), from custody. They were such clever kids. And so was the director, Shinkai Makoto. It was a conscious meta-representation of his previous works. No longer was he tackling the theme of loneliness tremendously. No longer was he using the trains too much as a literary tool for obstacle. In a self-deprecating manner, he presented us with a story of having our main characters running across the train tracks themselves.
For the people who didn’t care, Hodaka was just a mere daredevil running across the train tracks, not caring that unbeknownst to them, someone that he treasured was just sacrificed so that the people could enjoy the clear weather. But knowing the necessity of that sacrifice, no matter how wrong it was, Suga Keisuke set out from his flooded office to the abandoned building to convince Hodaka to turn himself in, so that the mayhem would come to an end. And again, wanting to assert his moral ascendancy over the cold utilitarian option, Hodaka found the gun on the floor again and his desperate screams for help into saving Hina culminated into a gunshot that resonated across the dilapidated walls where the police emerged from.
Hodaka, so determined to save Hina, overcame the trembling of his hand and used the gun as a leverage for an attempted escape. However, he was overcome by bull-like tackle of the police officer. He wailed Hina’s name and his desire to see her once more. That was enough for Suga, who also longed for his deceased wife, to sympathize and care for Hodaka’s predicaments and helped him escape by tackling the police officer. Another police officer stood before Hodaka’s way, but Nagi’s just there in the nick of time to give an opportunity to escape for Hodaka who finally jumped into the opening of the shrine.
Hodaka then found himself falling from the realm of the sea above. The sky creatures led him to Hina whom he finally rescued. Upon rescuing Hina and witnessing that the world that Hina just rescued was not worthy of rescuing as they took the wonders of nature for granted and attempted to alter its laws through her. Seeing the selfishness of the world that Hina selflessly saved with her sacrifice, Hodaka pleaded to Hina to start living for herself. With the selfish world not worthy of their selflessness, Hodaka exclaimed:
“I want you more than the blue sky.”
And the blue sky was gone in a flash as Hina returned to the world, so was the downpour which finally put most of Tokyo under water. That’s not how to put it. Rather, nature had reclaimed Tokyo back to its original state, washing off the human interference that it let off as the people then constantly sacrificed their weather maidens through the years.
That all happened within the span of three years after he rescued Hina. He was brought back to his home island in probation until he graduated from high school. He then returned to the half-submerged Tokyo, learning that Suga and Natsumi acted as Hina and Nagi’s legal guardians. He sought to start a new life with Tokyo with Hina whom he also sought to reunite with.
On his way to her house, Hodaka saw Hina praying, but he no longer was seeing a patch of light coming after for she’s just praying for herself. Or maybe perhaps, that patch of light was something in a figurative sense as the two were overjoyed by their reunion. The film ended contrary to what Shinkai Makoto usually did with his movies. The film was self-conscious about the themes and plot elements previous tackled and used by the films that preceded Weathering With You. Maybe it was out of pressure of making the good follow-up for Your Name. Maybe it was just Shinkai Makoto trying out new elements in his story.
However, it was apparent that it was the former as my girlfriend opened up about being disappointed after expecting a tear-jerker in this film too, just like in Your Name. Weathering With You was not about delivering tear-jerking scenes, but rather the film had a greater purpose, which was to remind us to care and be aware of the consequences of meddling with the environment. It was a good message to convey across. Well, I do hope that the message went across, even though this film didn’t meet the expectations stemming from Your Name.
And just like how I was struggling with writing the 2nd half of this piece, the film also struggled with the 2nd half. Well, perhaps, it was just me expecting the same level of climatic tone from Your Name.
Even so, there was one thing that the Shinkai Makoto films never failed to deliver: the stunning visuals. And finally, we get a definitive happy ending in a Shinkai Makoto film, unlike the depressing 5 Centimeters Per Second, and the open-ended Voices of a Distant Star, Garden of Words, and Your Name.