Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering With You is officially representing Japan for Best International film at the 92nd Academy Awards. Despite Japanese anime enjoying worldwide popularity and success, this is the first time that the country is submitting an anime film for the International category in almost a generation The last movie was the complex, morally ambiguous nature fantasy Princess Mononoke. While the Hayao Miyazaki-helmed epic became a beloved classic, it did not receive a nomination at the 70th annual Academy Awards.
It’s worth mentioning that Miyazaki’s Spirited Away did go onto win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2001. It remains the only anime film to have done so.
Weathering With You follows the adventures of Hodaka Morishima, a broke and lonely high school student who befriends the mysterious Hina Amano, an optimistic girl who can apparently control the weather, bringing out sunshine on even the rainiest of days. The two meet in Tokyo after Hodaka leaves his island home. Hodaka and Hina eventually start a service that makes use of Hina’s sunny day summoning ability. Makoto Shinkai previously directed Your Name, another romantic, dramatic anime film with fantasy elements. Your Name was the highest grossing anime film of all time, when it was released in 2016. It would eventually be surpassed by Weathering With You in July of 2019. Shinkai’s work is often praised for its emphasis on realistic relationships and emotional complexity combined with simply beautiful animation.
So far, the main criticism of Weathering With You appears to be that it just isn’t on the same level as Your Name for many fans. Still, early Rotten Tomatoes scores for the new work have given it a great deal of acclaim. Japan must have high hopes that the film will be received as a welcome ray of sunshine in the western world.