Weathering with Makoto Shinkai

BFI Southbank held an early screening of the Japanese animated film Weathering With you, followed by a Q&A with Makoto Shinkai, who directed and wrote the film’s script.

Weathering with You is set in a Tokyo that is experiencing months of non-stop rain. A teenage boy named Hodaka runs away to the perpetually rainy megapolis to escape the monotony of rural life. He discovers and befriends an orphan girl who has the magical ability to summon brief spells of sunshine at will.

Makoto Shinkai is best known for being the director and scriptwriter of the widely acclaimed Japanese animated film Your Name. Your Name was the highest-grossing anime film of all time at the time of its release in 2016, and was only knocked off its perch to 2nd place in 2019 when Studio Ghibli re-released its 2001 classic Spirited Away in China. Your Name remains the 8th highest grossing traditionally animated film, outgrossing traditionally animated classics like Disney’s Bambi and Cinderella.

Weathering With you, which has already been released in Japan on the 19th of July this year, is also on track to become an international blockbuster hit. Weathering with You is currently the 6th highest-grossing anime film of all time and the 28th highest grossing traditionally animated film. Weathering with You is also the Japanese submission for the 92nd Academy Awards International Feature Film category.

During the Q&A, Shinkai confirmed rumours that Star Wars J.J. Abrams will produce a live-action version of Your Name. Shinkai mentioned that he visited J.J. Abrams about “two months ago”. Abrams told him that he “couldn’t believe that” the two directors were “doing a simultaneous release around the world in two months time”. Shinkai said that Abrams’ comment was “very reassuring” for him because “we’re all the same”.

When asked if he trusts Abrams with the responsibility of producing the live-action remake of Your Name, Shinkai replied that Abrams and his team are “talented people” and he is “looking forward to seeing what they do with it” and see how it turns out as a live-action film” Shinkai added “I don’t know if it will turn out well or not” but he is “interested to see the outcome”.

As Weathering with You is set in a Tokyo that experiences non-stop rain, Shinkai was asked if London’s notoriously gloomy weather served as an inspiration for the film, as the Japanese director had lived in London for a year in 2008. Shinkai replied that he didn’t remember London’s weather being this “dark and cold” since he last visited 3 years ago.

Shinkai did say that the main inspiration for the film is the current climate crisis, as Japan gets heavier rains and more flooding every summer.

“In the past the seasons in Japan has always been gentle and beautiful, and you’ve always looked forward to the next season, but I feel like in the last few years rather than looking forward to the next season, you have to prepare yourself for it, you have to prepare for the cold, you have to prepare for the heat, or for the disasters that it might bring.”

However, Shinkai insists that he was not trying to send “a political message” about global warming. Rather, he wanted to “show young people today living in this crazy world where things have gone out of control that they are not just sitting there and complaining about it, but are getting on with their lives, laughing and loving”.

Weathering with You will be released in the UK on 17 January 2020.

Words, pictures and video by Nicholas Foo