The anime follow-up to Makoto Shinkai’s record-breaking Kimi no Na wa (Your Name) is about to hit cinemas in Japan and I think I’m right in saying that the film is what you’d call—a hotly-anticipated release.
In cinemas in Japan from Friday, July 19, Tenki no Ko (Weathering With You) tells the story of a high school boy and his relationship with a girl who has the uncanny ability to control the weather.
Writer and director Shinkai has been frustratingly reserved in revealing details about the film, and other than the main premise and a few character names, not a lot is known about the movie. Along with a just-released special compilation of Shinkai’s films which includes a preview of Tenki no Ko, there are only two trailers for the film.
In a recent press conference, Shinkai was also reported to have expressed concerns that audiences may be divided by the film’s story—which only turned up the heat around the upcoming release.
So what exactly do we know about Tenki no Ko so far?
The story of Tenki no Ko
Tenki No Ko follows Hodaka, a troubled high school freshman who runs away from his home on a remote island of Japan and travels to Tokyo. Unfortunately, the big city isn’t everything he expects it to be and he quickly finds himself short on funds and struggling with urban life. Luckily, he finds work as a writer for an occult magazine that covers all things supernatural. Then, one rainy day, he meets Hina.
The hero of the film, Hina is “[a] bright and strong-willed girl [who] possesses a strange and wonderful ability: the power to stop the rain and clear the sky,” as described by GKids Inc., who have licensed the film for its English-language release in 2020.
The second trailer teased audiences with more details about the characters and the story. Hina and Hodaka are shown looking at a computer screen, followed by shots of a website which has an order form where people can order sunny weather from the “100% Sunshine Girl.” So it looks as though the two will work together to harness Hina’s weather powers to lift the spirits of Tokyo citizens who have been hit by a torrent of rainy weather.
Narrative themes and music
The most obvious theme in the film is the weather, and how it can affect people in a complex way. With Hodaka leaving his remote hometown to move to Tokyo, there is also an allusion to one of the biggest problems currently afflicting Japan: rural exodus.
As with almost all Shinkai films, the story is also told through the music. Shinkai has again teamed up with popular Japanese rock band, Radwimps, to compose the soundtrack for the film.
In both Shinkai’s previous films Byosoku Go Senchimetoru (5 Centimeters Per Second) and Kimi no Na wa, the theme songs distilled the essence of the story and portrayed the emotions and thoughts of the main characters. In Kimi no Na Wa, Radwimps’ “Zen Zen Zense” (“Past Past Past Life”) captured Taki’s plight to travel in time to find the girl he cares most about in the world.
In Tenki no Ko, “Ai ni Dekiru Koto wa Mada Aru kai“ (“Is There Anything Else Love Can Do”) seems to be an indication of another intense love story between the two main characters.
Only two lines of the film’s theme song have been revealed in the trailers:
Ai ni dekiru koto wa mada aru kai? (Is there anything else love can do?)
Boku ni dekiru koto wa mada aru kai? (Is there anything else I can do?)
What do these lines tell us about the film? Well, there will likely be the classic themes of love and loss which are present in numerous Shinkai works. The song also hints that there will be an obstacle which the protagonists face that may be too difficult for their love to overcome. Are you crying yet?
Living up to Kimi no Na wa
Writers are always at the mercy of their most famous work and with Kimi no Na wa now the highest-grossing anime film of all time, Shinkai has set a very high bar for himself. For critics, the film directly after Kimi no Na wa will be an indicator of whether or not Shinkai really has got what it takes to be the next Hayao Miyazaki.
Whether or not he lives up to his name, one thing is for sure; the release of Tenki No Ko couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time given this year’s never-ending tsuyu (rainy season). If only Hina was a real person!