I hate the rating I had to give this Weathering with You, the newest anime film from the rightfully acclaimed Makoto Shinkai (Your Name). Really, I do. It’s not a negative one, mind you, but for reasons I’ll get into below, it just seems incredibly unfair nevertheless. My dad would also vouch for that: after we left the Fathom Events screening of it, he told me that his personal rating for it was a 9/10, and was simply shocked to hear that Chris Stuckmann (a YouTube film critic I often watch) only gave the film a B (in other words, my score), a rating that Stuckmann himself seemed rather hesitant about in his own review of it.
This reminds me of Penguin Highway, a film that I, according to my review, “really, really wanted to give a 9/10”, but was forced not to due to the main character’s annoying fascination with female chest areas (although thinking back to it now, the 8/10 I ultimately decided on was probably fairanyway). Weathering admittedly has some of that too (though at least, unlike Highway, it’s notan adult-like 4th grader peering at, in his words, “boobs” at nearly every chance), but that’s not what my main issueswith it are.
No, those would have to be the rather thin plot and characters, the former of which more or less kicks off following Hodaka Morishima, a high-school freshman who has just run away from home for reasons never explained beyond a brief mentioning of his life there being “suffocating”. The Catcher in the Rye is shown lying on his desk a couple of times, which is very fitting, given how that’s the type of territory the film seems to be heading towards as he aimlessly wanders around Tokyo trying to find a job.
Thankfully, he gets one from Keisuke Saga, the very same man who saved Hodaka from falling offhis boat during a freak rainstorm, and it is then that he meets Hina, a girl that has the mysterious power to stop that exact weather. Not a bad plot, but not an especially great one either, especially considering how disjointed things are towards the beginning.
The animation, however, is something else entirely. Seriously, I have no words to describe how stunningly gorgeous it is, how much it pays attention to even the most minuscule of details, how utterly lifelike it can appear to be at times. (Just watch the film’s trailer–preferably of the original Japanese language version w/ English subtitles instead of the weak English dub–to see what I mean. Right now. Go.) As such, I fear that giving the film it belongs to a mere 8/10 wouldn’t be giving it nearly enough credit, but again, the plot and characters–the latter of which weren't explored nearly as much as they really should have–just didn’t measure up by comparison, so that’s the rating I was forced to take it down to as a result.
Would I still recommend Weathering with You to anime fans and non-fans alike? Absolutely–and I also think it should be shown in film classes as a top example of how a relatively mediocre story can be redeemed by flawless production and visuals.