When you make the second-highest-grossing Japanese movie of all time, you’re allowed to take as long as you want until your next project. For Makoto Shinkai, it looks like the amount of time he wanted to take was three years.
At a recent press conference in Tokyo, the director of phenomenally successful anime hit "your name." revealed not only the title of his new anime movie, but also an outline of its story, the lead voice cast members, and even the release date.
Titled "Tenki no Ko" (“Children of the Weather”) in Japanese, and with the official English title of "Weathering with You," the story begins when first-year high school boy Hodaka Morishima runs away from his home on a rural island and comes to Tokyo. Unable to find any other work, he eventually becomes a writer for a magazine focused on the occult and other mysterious rumors, and meets a girl named Haruna Amano during a rainstorm. However, after she says a short prayer, Haruna tells Hodaka “It’ll stop raining now,” and sure enough, it does, and the sun comes out.
Written in kanji, Haruna’s family name, Amano, is 天野, and thus shares its first character with 天気/tenki (“weather”). Interestingly, it’s also the first kanji in Amaterasu (天照), goddess of the sun and the most important deity in the Shinto faith, while the first kanji of Haruna’s given name itself, 陽, means “sun.” It also seems significant that the film’s story synopsis mentions that Haruna lives with her little brother, and that Amaterasu’s younger brother is the storm god Susanoo, another member of the Shinto pantheon with a connection to the weather. The poster also shows either multiple dragons or a single multi-headed serpent flying around the floating paradise, bringing to mind the Yamata no Orochi from Japanese myth (and, soon, license plates).
Of course, trying to draw those parallels might be overthinking things, and in any case, Shinkai himself stresses that his goal with "Weathering with You," first and foremost, is to entertain, telling reporters: “I think it’s going to be massively entertaining. This probably sounds kinds of cheesy, but I think it will make people laugh, cry, and realize things they haven’t thought about before. I’m making this movie while thinking ‘I want the people who watch it to think it’s fun and interesting.’”
That’s not to say the director doesn’t have any lofty ambitions for the upcoming anime, though.“I want this to be a movie that anyone can feel is a movie for them,” he says, explaining that he settled on weather as an important element to the story because it’s something that everyone is affected by and thinks about.
As for the mysterious and compelling image of a girl flying towards a grassy green field atop a cloud, the spark of inspiration came to Shinkai way back in the summer of 2016, when he was running around to various theaters and press conferences doing promotions for "your name."
“It was so hot that summer. At one point, I looked up in the sky and saw a huge cumulonimbus cloud, and I though how nice it would be to be relaxing in a field on top of it. That’s where the visual image came from, and that’s when I thought I’d like to do a story about the sky.”
While no pictures of "Weathering with You’s" protagonists have been released (barring the ostensible rear-view of Haruna seen in the poster), their voices have already been chosen. Selected from roughly 2,000 auditioning performers to play Hodaka and Haruna were Daigo Kotaro and Nana Mori. This will be the first anime role for the 17-year-old Mori (who’s not to be confused with the established anime voice actress of the same name), though she’s appeared in a handful of TV dramas and the live-action "Anthem of the Heart" movies. 18-year-old Kotaro’s only listed film credit is for 2017’s live-action adaptation of manga "Ani ni Aisaresugite Komattemasu" (“My Brother Loves Me Too Much, and it’s Become a Problem”).
In addition to directing, Shinkai himself will be writing the new movie’s script. "your name." character designer Masayoshi Tanaka will return to do the honors once again for "Weathering with You," having kept himself busy in the interim working on "Darling in the Franxx." Surprisingly, none of the "your name." three credited art directors appear to be attached to Shinkai’s new project, with Hiroshi Takiguchi, and art setting assistant on "your name." and art director for Shinkai’s 2013 "Garden of Words" once again stepping up to full art director status.
Shinkai was also asked if Radwimps, the Japanese rock band that produced the instantly recognizable and insanely catchy soundtrack for "your name." will be involved. “I can’t comment on who’s doing the music,” the director said, but he did give an even more desired piece of information: "Weathering with You’s" theatrical release date in Japan, which is July 19, 2019.
Sources: Weathering with You official website, Cinema Today via Hachima Kiko
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