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DVD/Blu-ray Review: Weathering With You

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A runaway teenager does not find Tokyo to be a hospitable place until he meets a girl with the ability to change the weather.

Things do not start off well for 16-year-old Hodaka as he nearly gets swept off the deck of a boat and no one will hire him upon arriving in overcast Tokyo.  Penniless, the runaway wanders the streets and intervenes when witnessing a waitress who took pity upon him being accosted and results in a firearm being discharged; a friendship and business partnership develops between them when Hodaka learns that Hina can alter the sky to allow brief periods of sunshine.

Rain is a consistent thematic element in the works of filmmaker Makoto Shinkai with him upping the ante in Weathering With You; it has a beautiful and menacing presence as the residents of Tokyo long for sunshine to literally and figuratively to appear in their lives.  Shinkai explores the emotional impact that weather has on individuals as well the environmental consequences of interfering with Mother Nature.  Having Hodaka take part in an investigative magazine feature about the presence of “Sunshine Girls” is an effective way to integrate exposition into the storyline.

Great attention is paid to details such as raindrops falling onto the lens of the virtual camera, and creating reflections and refractions with the water.  Animating the rain was a monumental task which effectively adds to the imagery without becoming distracting.  The grand finale features a dramatic skydiving sequence that would cause Tom Cruise to smile and belongs in Mission: Impossible – Fallout.  A weak aspect is the police investigation into the whereabouts of Hodaka which feels too contrived.  There is already an organic conflict that is more interesting which is the cause and effect that changing the weather has on Hina and on the environment around her as nothing happens without a cost.

The visual presentation is crystal clear and the DTS soundtrack makes full use of the rain sound effects.  The bonus features allow for the original Japanese voice track with English subtitles as well as the English dub if desired.  The featurette is more of a publicity reel than an in-depth exploration though the inclusion of the talk show interview with Shinkai helps to compensate for this.  It was nice to get a brief career overview of a filmmaker who has emerged out of the shadows of Hayao Miyazaki to gain international attention and acclaim.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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