Weathering With You is a masterpiece of storytelling that doesn't bend the rules to give its audience a happy ending, even if the characters are allowed to have one. The perplexing selfishness of its leads is really pushed home in a finale that will leave you contemplating its narrative wellbeing. And it will have you questioning your own stance on love and what you'd do to be with someone. It's a hard push to cheer for when not standing in the protagonist's shoes. He literally makes everyone else suffer just so he can hold hands with a girl that is made of literal magic.

At once we're supposed to buy into this tragic love story, and give of our selves so these two creatures can ride off into the sunset while the rest of us suffer terrible weather and a landscape that is folding back in on itself. How much you actually grow to care about these two characters themselves will have you weighing the end with both hands. But dragged and screaming into the real world, I'm not quite sure this would sit well with anyone, no matter how fully invested they were in the souls at the center of this metaphorical fairytale.

And that's part of the movie's charm. It really is a masterclass in script writing and plot execution at every turn of the dial. The folks behind the most recent Star Wars trilogy could have learned quite a few lessons from watching this single movie alone, about structure, plot, and not showing one's hand until absolutely necessary. Strangely, the movie was snubbed at the Oscars in both the International Film and Animation category, though I'm not quite clear on whether or not it was even eligible.

The story itself is simple, yet quite complex on a molecular level. It's almost old fashioned feeling in that it allows a male hero at its center, with the female arriving almost as a token of hope and inspiration. A fairy creature that bestows glowing sunshine on those who allow her to share her gifts. She is pure emotion, the feeling you get when you look at that certain someone who can brighten your entire day. She'll have you reflecting on that special someone in your own life, who brings the sunshine into the room whenever they arrive. Though, this girl literally brings the sunshine, clearing a constantly rainy sky for the right price.

Weathering With You was released this past summer in Japan, but only recently made its U.S. theatrical premiere on January 17, which was this past weekend. It was available for dubbed and original language screenings at theaters across the country. Directed by Makoto Shinkai, it has been hailed as a masterpiece in animated film work. The imagery is stunning, and should captivate even the most ardent anime hater. One might not even consider it traditional anime.

Makoto Shinkai made his directorial debut with the international smash hit Your Name, released in 2016, which went onto become the highest grossing anime movie of all time, at the time of its release. The man is considered a rock star in the world of animation, and if you haven't seen his work, you'll understand why after watching Weathering With You. It's a sci-fi fantasy piece that ranks right up there with the best of the best, be it live action or animation, and dare I say it even has a strong E.T. vibe, if they changed out that weird brown extra-terrestrial with a fetching little teenage girl who can control the weather.

Some view Weathering With You as a screed on climate control, and it does have a politic message wrapped around it like seaweed on rice, but at its very core rests an old fashioned love story that is sure to captivate even the most hardened of hearts. Until they realize just how inverted and selfish the main protagonist is. That's one aspect of the engrossing tale that's hard to circumvent, but that's on purpose. And is the structure upon which this whole thing rests. That's its conceit. What are you willing to allow others? And what will you sacrifice?

Weathering With You can be dissected many different ways. It's a fable first and foremost about a runaway named Hodaka who falls inline with a shady operation seeking out Inquire-like stories about UFOs, Bigfoots and other strange unworldly phenomenon that can't quite be explained.

The young teen boy is thrust on a quest to seek out the truth about 'Sunshine Girls', and he eventually finds one of his own. This individual can manipulate the weather. It's been raining a lot in Tokyo. Hina has the power to separate the clouds, and make the sun shine down on various landscapes. She is a mighty mean weather manipulator, and a heartbreaker to boot. Hodaka falls in love with her. He saves her from an unfavorable fate. And together, along with Hina's little heartthrob brother Nagi, they make a business of making the storm clouds go away.

Of course this all comes with a catch, and it's quite complicated. The less said the better, as the narrative slowly unravels to reveal its secrets in a perfected patter of rain drops, stunning heart beats and a lot of humor and pathos. It's for all ages, and will be fondly looked upon as a true masterpiece for years to come.

Weathering With You opens in 4DX theaters starting today. And if you haven't seen the movie, this is the setting upon which you should let it all wash over you. And if you've already witnessed the power this animated movie holds within its colorful soul, 4DX will only help to heighten your love and enjoyment of the movie. With any story prominently featuring a Sunshine Girl, you can guess that there is a lot of rain, and 4DX utilizes this environment to make for one wet night out at the multiplex. The feeling of rain drops constantly on your skin while transfixed on this tale serves as a true bit of immersion. And there's something exciting about feeling the actual wind and weather hit you as it plays out on screen.

Animation and 4DX work quite well together, pulling you into a dreamlike state that is never quite achieved by any live-action endeavors that employ this sweet gimmick. There is a lot of seat jostling, as we take a true ride alongside these characters. We get a pretty great fireworks show that is enhanced by this full immersion into the fantasy world Makoto Shinkai has rendered in shades of true beauty that are captivating at every turn. And it snows. There is literal snow that falls during two different scenes. It's in a word, magical. And does nothing to distract from what is playing out, only helping to inform and push the story home to its utmost enjoyment. If you've never seen a 4DX movie before, this is a great starting point and a perfect example of what it can do to truly enhance the theatergoing experience.

Weathering With You is a masterpiece of animation and storytelling that will appeal to just about everyone. The ending is complex and messy, and will have you considering your own state of emotions and what you're willing to sacrifice. There are some mysteries left wrapped up. It's not all easily laid out on the table. It's simply gorgeous. And arrives this weekend as a near perfect moviegoing experience. You can visit Regal Theaters for a list of Weathering With You screenings closest to your home, office or school.

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B. Alan Orange at Movieweb
B. Alan Orange