It’s probably best not to overindulge in pre-drinks at the cinema bar before taking your seat, the lights dim and Weathering With You’s deluge of exquisite hand-drawn rain hits you square in the bladder for the next two hours. If you’re anything like me, you may feel uncomfortably twinned with Tokyo as it slowly floods in Shinkai’s simple and bright coming-of-age story overflowing with magic and charm.
We open on wayward teen Hodaka Morishima (Kotardo Daigo) on a passenger ferry sailing into Tokyo shrouded by endless rain clouds. A freak rainstorm of oceanic proportions filled with sky-fish no less, almost washes Hodaka overboard and into the arms of occult magazine writer Keisuke Suga (Shun Oguri), it’s an unlikely and yet pivotal meeting, but they soon part company after all the ramen and beer is gone. Hodaka is left to scrap it out on the capital’s rain-soaked streets avoiding policemen, gangsters and hunger.
Of course, Hodaka scrolls and taps away looking for minimum wage jobs on social media, which paints him as a modern teenager navigating a cold and digital world that is bereft of tradition and magic. But it is the most analogue of things, Mr Suga’s business card that chips a tiny hole in the known universe and Hodaka falls into the life of a live-in writer investigating the perpetual rain blighting the city.
A literal ray of sunshine and fast food waitress Hina Amano (Nana Mori) crosses paths with Hodaka as he establishes himself in the city. In an early encounter in a Mcdonalds restaurant, Hina flips her cute meet with Hodaka into a big cute meat with fries. Later Hodaka returns the favour by sloshing in and rescuing Hina from a nasty bar owner on the prowl for fresh meat and they escape to a secluded rooftop and in a dreamy swirl of sunlight, crystal rain drops and blue skies Hina floats skywards revealing her true identity as a mythical Sunshine Girl.
Naturally, Hodaka and Hina go into business together brightening up Tokyo for a small fee. Their slow-burn romance feels pulled from a much simpler time and one that doesn’t dig too deeply into the complexities of teenagers getting to grips with love and intimacy in a tinderfied society.
In Tokyo’s stunningly animated city streets, humming with metropolitan life beaten by the biblical weather (forty days and forty nights, and then some). Makoto Shinkai’s eye and artistic sensibilities are drawn to unpicking the mundane fabric of illness, rebellion and tragedy and infusing it with a whimsical abandon that trots from sunshine dances to a galloping climatic chase sequence that will touch the most jaded of hearts (mine included) and rain has never looked so wet and beautiful onscreen.
Ultimately, Hodaka and Hina’s tempestuous romance maybe seen as a little selfish by the end, but then again teenagers often are.