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Weathering With You Shows Us the Importance of Found Family

Raffy Ermac

Weathering With You—director Makoto Shinkai's follow-up to his critically-acclaimed, 2016 work Your Name—is finally being released in U.S. theaters this week, and although there are plenty of timely, urgent messages about the environment and the world's drastically-changing climate, another one of the strongest themes in the highly-anticipated anime film is something queer audiences can definitely appreciate: the importance of found family.

Warning: minor Weathering With You spoilers ahead!

Featuring the gorgeous, hyper-realistic animation that has become a trademark of Shinkai films, the visually-stunning story centers around a teenage boy named Hodaka Morishima and his best friend/love interest Hina Amano.

After running away from his small, rural town, Hodaka moves to Tokyo to try and make a new life for himself. With little money and no (legal) job prospects, he finds himself befriending, living with, and working for a man named Keisuke Suga and his adult niece Natsumi Suga, writers who specialize in reporting stories about strange, supernatural occurrences that happen in Tokyo. Through his work and some twists of fate, Hodaka meets Hina, a girl who, through prayer, can control the weather (a particularly useful skill in a city that is experiencing some of the heaviest downfalls of rain in history). With the help of Hina's younger brother Nagi, Hodaka and Hina decide to use her mysterious weather powers to start their own business, charging a fee to people who want good weather for their special events. Because of how regularly dreary the weather in Tokyo has been, their business becomes a huge success, and the three make a ton of money from clients from all walks of life who simply want to see the sun come out for their memorable occasions. 

Without giving away too much of the plot, it's later revealed that Hina and Nagi are both orphans, and with no legal adult guardian to look after them,  they are at risk of being separated by child protective services. Authorities are also on the lookout for Hodaka to try and bring him back home after his running away. In a last-ditch effort to try and stay together, the three decide to run away (again). 

While Weathering With You is filled with plenty of emotional (sometimes melodramatic) scenes, some of the most heartfelt moments in the film happen when Hodaka is interacting with his motley crew of misfits that he was able to assemble out of the need to survive in a new setting. While we never really learn specifically why Hodaka ran away from his small town, something happened that was obviously traumatic enough to make him want to start a new life in the big city, and in the midst of all the chaos that comes with change and unfamiliarity, he is able to find peace with the small, caring, and loving group of friends he has surrounded himself with. As worn as they may seem, the need to belong and be loved are universal themes that Shinkai, an expert crafter of young, teenage love stories, explores very well in Weathering With You, and any audience member would probably have to be completely heartless not to find themselves rooting for Hodaka and Hina.

When compared to Shinkai's previous masterpiece Your Name, Weathering With You falls short when it comes to overall character development and nuance, but it will still pull at your emotional heartstrings in the same way, and with its almost-too-beautiful-for-words animation, is definitely worth a watch. 

Weathering With You's U.S. theatrical run begins January 17, with a special, two-night preview event on January 15 & 16. Get your tickets here!

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