Over a long course of time and attempting to decode the ending of several of the movies I have viewed, I have broadly come across two kinds of endings. The first kind are more factual, imploring the viewer to ask what actually happened, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for the audience to pick and arrive at the intended conclusion.
The second kind are more thematic, dealing with the “why” or “how” part of it, with underlying messages and motifs. ‘Weathering With You’ and the surreal world of rain, teenage love, Tokyo and unshaking faith it immerses you in over its roughly two-hour runtime ends on a note that is a bit of both. On the surface, what appears to be a perfectly happy ending may actually turn out to be bitter-sweet. Here, we examine that and more.
The Ending, Explained
The way anime primarily differs from the mainstream cinematic medium, apart from of course the animation, is just how it makes the metaphysical, and anything surreal feel absolutely normal. There is a heightened sense of disbelief that demands that you submerge yourself within, completely, lest these works come off as absolutely ridiculous to you, in which case you must realise that the medium is not for you. Luckily enough, ‘Weathering With You’ ended up working big time for me, and more than half the strength of this picture lies in the art of the medium.
In the process of exploring its ending, we rewind our clocks to when Hodaka, Hina and Nagi are on the run and seek refuge from the law and the weather in a hotel, as they enjoy a hearty meal and karaoke, with Hodaka praying in that beautiful moment to let things remain as they were, having finally found a sense of family.
In a tender moment, Hina reveals to him how being the “sunshine girl” has slowly allowed parts of her body to be turned into water every time she prayed and brought upon the sunshine. Confirming the weather maiden prophecy told earlier in the film, she is convinced that she needed to sacrifice herself completely in order to make the rains stop, and she does, disappearing without a trace. She is transported to a mystical realm above the clouds, resembling a large green field, and finds that her body was now completely composed of water with the almost magical “flying fish” now surrounding her, leading to the ring Hodaka gave him being dropped back on Earth. The rains in Tokyo stop that night and summer returns.
Meanwhile, Hodaka is puzzled by her disappearance, yet sure of how praying at the same Torii gate that Hina showed him she got her unique gifts from would bring her back. However, the police find their whereabouts and take both him and Nagi into custody from which he escapes to find his way to the dilapidated building with the shrine on its roof.
After overcoming great odds and escaping the police with help from Natsumi, Nagi and Suga who experiences a change of heart after seeing his desperation and resolve to get Hina back, he finally reaches the Torii gate, prays with all his heart, and is then transported to the same mystical land above the clouds, where the two reunite and Hodaka rescues Hina.
The two fall to Earth in a beautifully animated and scored sequence with Hodaka declaring that he didn’t care about the weather and the incessant returns her return to Earth would probably bring as long as she stayed with him. Hodaka implores Hina to not use her abilities anymore to conjure the sunshine, and to live for herself. As soon as the two return, the rains resume torrentially and the police find them both unconscious at the shrine, taking Hina into custody and sentencing Hodaka to probation.
Three years pass, and the rains never stop leading to Tokyo being partly submerged permanently. Hodaka returns from probation, now graduated, and goes to see Sugo who has expanded his business and inspires him to go and find Hina, who he has not spoken to for the last three years. He also goes and visits the old woman who hired their services back then. She tells him of the history of Tokyo and how a few centuries ago, Tokyo was all ocean, implying that in a way, they were just returning to how things were, further inspiring Hodaka to find Hina. He does, while walking on the same path that they took a walk earlier on in the film, their eyes filled with tears upon finding each other. The two then lovingly embrace, reassuring each other that things were going to be okay from now on, as the rain continues pattering.
Love In The Time of Climate Change
Hidden underneath the surface of a beautiful looking teenage romance is an unshakeable allegory for climate change that has plagued the planet over the years, and has now reached a fever pitch. The environment has been a major theme and source of inspiration in almost all of director Makoto Shinkai’s works, from ‘5 Centimetres per Second’ to ‘Children Who Chase Lost Voices’, to even ‘Your Name’ to a certain extent.
However, here it assumes a more pertinent voice, even if through an underlying theme and deeply placed metaphors. My only qualm is how it never assumes centre stage, given the number of impressionable youth this film is going to reach, letting the idea of climate change, and the power of the message, only partly utilised in favour of a completed romantic arc. However, I still believe as I mentioned in the opening paragraph that even the underlying messages are enough to incite a discussion, and that is exactly what we are going to do here.
Through the torrential and continuous down pouring that drench and submerge Tokyo in ‘Weathering With You’, Hina through the medium of an urban legend, that of the weather maiden, is presented as a force of nature, all consuming, the very incarnate of mother Gaia. Her ability to control the weather, her constant withering away every time she made the sunshine miracle happen implying the exhaustibility of her gift, and that she must sacrifice herself for the sunlight to prevail again are all allegorical to the same idea.
Furthermore, there is another interesting thread revealed when Hodaka meets the old woman who had earlier requested some sunshine in her backyard. She reveals that Tokyo was originally only a bay, built from land reclaimed from the sea, implying that things were merely going back to the way they were through the constant rain submerging half of Tokyo. This is not too different from the currently looming threat over the island nation if climate change continued its current pace.
Through the submergence, a point is also made about the inevitability of nature, and the very phenomenon of climate change being nature reclaiming what originally belonged to it in the first place. In fact, the most significant and currently relevant message is delivered by Hodaka’s willingness to essentially let go of the sun forever, especially after seeing the state of Tokyo, now half submerged and most of the infrastructure rendered useless, for his desire to get Hina back, thus drawing a very real parallel between a desire for short term human wants, and the evasion of or the absence of farsightedness with respect to the environment; the price of which we all are currently paying.
Read More: Weathering With You Review