I like that title better, but alas, as we all know, a direct translation is never the best option. Shinkai Makoto’s latest film 天気の子 (Weathering With You) came out in July 2019 after which time I was hoping to catch as an inflight film later that autumn, but I was out of luck.

This meant catching an international release date at my local multiplex (as I did with 君の名は。 3 years ago) but I was in Malaysia when it came out in the UK, and then with COVID, I wasn’t too keen to go to the flicks which meant I didn’t even bother checking if it was still on. All I had to do was to wait for the Japanese home media release which was at the end of May this year (the international date is this coming October and I didn’t want to wait that long). I had seen the trailer, and I knew it had a fantasy spin to it like 君の名は。 but I avoided reading anything about it as I didn’t want to know the plot. So much so, I didn’t even know who Shinkai got to do the voices. I knew RADWIMPS is back doing the music/film score.

So, when my Blu-ray order arrived from Japan last Thursday, I was pretty excited. However, I waited for Friday night so that I could sit down in buangruang3 (aka the media room) with a glass of ice cold Diet Coke to enjoy the film. This is a Shinkai Makoto film, so I think there is no need to say much more about the animation – the Tokyo cityscape is genuine and unlike anime on TV, actual corporate names like McDonald’s are used in the film scenes. What about the story? I would like to begin that I was fearful of a repeat in formula. Tokyo, a fantasy theme to the tale, RADWIMPS – I think these three is enough to make me feel that I may be disappointed.

Suga with Hodaka and Hina at a park. Can’t believe Oguri Shun did Suga’s voice and I had to rewatch to go yup, it is him.

The basic premise of the tale is about a middle schooler named Hodaka (Daigo Kotaro) who dropped out, and ran away from home from somewhere down south to go to Tokyo by ferry. An incident on the ferry during a storm saw Hodaka being saved by Suga (voiced by Oguri Shun!). Suga told Hodaka to look him up in Tokyo if he needed any help. Despite Hodaka’s valiant attempt to do things by himself, as someone who comes from a small town, he finds himself somewhat helpless in a metropolis like this. He finally took up Suga’s offer and worked for him buy assisting Natsumi (Honda Tsubasa – another surprise!) go out to interview people and write articles worthy of the National Enquirer (think MiB type stuff). It was during this time Hodaka had a chance encounter with Hina (Mori Nana) a part-time McDonald’s floor staff who gave him a hamburger on the house as she felt sorry for him. Hodaka encountered Hina again but this time in rainy Kabukicho, which is notorious for its hostess bars and sex-related businesses. Thinking Hina might be in trouble, Hodaka fumbled his way to help Hina get away from a young shady chap who was enticing her to enter one of the local business premise. It was after this that Hina revealed that she could make the rain go away after praying, which coincidentally was an article he and Natsumi investigated about – a temple maiden, one for every town, who could pray for good weather. Hodaka then suggested that Hina could offer her services to make good weather for a fee. See the pattern yet? For some reason, it always seems rain – so much so, a dry spell began to be a rare occurrence ever since Hina been providing her weather services and business has been good. To know if Hina indeed is the cause for the unabating rainy weather you gotta see the film.

Hina before revealing her secret to Hodaka.

I have to admit the pace and the story itself was a bit disappointing in the first and part of the second act. I admit I am subconsciously, and unfairly, comparing this with 君の名は。. Shinkai’s 2017 opus had the fantasy element subtly woven in the story, whereas the exposition concerning Hina’s weather controlling ability is there from the get go. However, as the story picked up from the middle of the second act, all the way to the third act, I felt more invested in the story to see how things pan out for Hodaka and Hina. I actually like the conclusion of the story which is a bit of a surprise. And just to add – this is the same universe as 君の名は。 because Mitsuha and Taki are in the film too. They have no involvement in the plot of the story but you need to keep your eyes open for them.

Natsumi cheekily teasing Hodaka by asking if he was checking out her oppai when she was asleep. Like Oguri Shun, I couldn’t believe Honda Tsubasa did her voice either.

The Blu-ray I got from CDJapan is one of the limited edition box sets that are available. The Japanese never cease to amaze me with the different versions made available. The one I got was the second (or was it third) most expensive, because the über limited edition version includes a framed picture and/or two commemorative drinking glasses. It’s fine – just give me the 5-disc version (with extras I haven’t checked out yet), a photo book with interviews (in nihon-go), a book containing (what I think is) the film script, and a clear decal of Hodaka, Hina and her younger brother, Nagi.

It is a good yarn. Don’t let anyone tell you “oh, it’s just the same Shinkai Makoto things all over again” – it’s well worth watching. Or owning a copy – and you don’t need to go the whole hog of getting a limited edition version to enjoy this.

As a post-script, the RADWIMPS stuff was quite good but in my opinion nowhere near as good as those in 君の名は。. However, do check out two songs featuring Miura Tōko – Grand Escape and Celebration. Miura’s got a lovely voice.