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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Weathering with You is a teen-friendly animated adventure from Japanese filmmaker Makoto Shinkai (Your Name). It follows 16-year-old runaway Hodaka (voiced by Kotaro Daigo), who finds a home and a job as a reporter in Tokyo, where he falls for beautiful teen orphan Hina (Nana Mori), who can magically change the weather when she prays. The movie (available either subtitled or dubbed in English) should appeal to manga-loving tweens and teens, especially those who enjoy romance with folktale/fantasy elements. Expect occasional language ("bulls--t," "a--holes," "bastard," "hell") and some suggestive material: Men want a teen girl to work at a strip club, a teen guy thinks a college-aged woman is an older man's mistress, and a young woman reveals her body under a robe (but it's transforming into water). The action/violence includes Hodaka getting bruised in street fights, shooting a gun to scare off those who are trying to hurt him, and a chase scene. Romance is mostly focused on an obvious crush, but not much more than an embrace and hand holding is shown. With themes of courage and teamwork, the movie also values the strong bonds between friends.
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What's the story?
WEATHERING WITH YOU is a Japanese animated romantic fantasy about Hodaka Morishima (voiced by Kotaro Daigo), a 16-year-old boy who runs away to Tokyo and ends up meeting and falling for Hina (Nana Mori), a mysterious teenage orphan who's caring for her younger brother and can manipulate the weather. Hodaka nearly dies during a storm on his journey to Tokyo but is saved by Mr. Suga (Shun Oguri), who offers Hodaka his business card. After a sketchy time looking for work, Hodaka seeks help from Mr. Suga, who offers him room and board in exchange for housework and his reporting skills. With Tokyo suffering from too many days of rain, Hodaka is assigned a story about the legend of "weather maidens" -- girls who can supernaturally cause either sunshine or storms. Soon after, Hodaka realizes that Hina can pray the rain away and bring sunshine to areas around her. Hodaka helps Hina come up with a way to market her "Sunshine Girl" skills, but the more she does it, the more it becomes clear that there's a personal cost to her supernatural abilities. (An English-dubbed version of the film is available, but this review is based on the subtitled original.)
Is it any good?
Writer-director Makoto Shinkai has crafted another charming, visually impressive animated story that's both magical and romantic. This movie, like Shinkai's Your Name, is an exploration of friendship, family, and folklore, as well as a slow-burning first love story. There's also an underlying but not heavy-handed environmentalist message about the way weather can affect people and even cause disaster. Hodaka's coming-of-age plot burns brightest, as does the blooming romance between him and Hina. Irresistibly sweet and brave (if occasionally too courageous for his own good), Hodaka is easy to root for, even though Shinkai doesn't delve into the reasons he runs away from home.
The music includes soaring J-pop songs that are subtitled and nicely accompany major turning points in the movie. And the supernatural sequences are stunning with swirling storms and fires. Hina is portrayed as a special, beautiful force of good, and it's plain to see why she's a beloved older sister -- and Hodaka's crush. Fans of Japanese anime won't need much convincing to see Weathering with You, but it should also appeal to older tweens, teens, and adults who appreciate more mature animation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether you prefer to watch foreign-language animated films in their original language with subtitles or dubbed into your language. What makes one more appealing than the other?
Discuss the romance in the movie. What do you think about the way the relationship between Hodaka and Hina progresses?
What are the movie's messages about friendship and family? What do you think about how the movie ends?
- In theaters: January 17, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: September 15, 2020
- Cast: Nana Mori, Kotaro Daigo, Sei Hiraizumi
- Director: Makoto Shinkai
- Studio: GKIDS
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship
- Character strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: suggestive material, some violence and language
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: September 14, 2020
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