Release Date(s)2019 (January 4, 2022)
Studio(s)CoMix Wave Films/Story Inc./Toho Studios (GKids/Shout! Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: C
Director Matoko Shinkai (Your Name—see our review of the Blu-ray here) returns to tell the story of Hodaka Morishima (voiced by Kotaro Daigo), a young high school freshman who escapes to Tokyo, fleeing his unhappy home on the island of Kōzu-shima. Hodaka scrapes out a meager existence on the city’s streets until he’s given a job by a young man named Keisuke Suga (Shun Oguri), who publishes an underground occult magazine with the help of his niece Natsumi. Their mission is to investigate a series of legends relating to the local weather, which has been unusually rainy. A psychic tells them to seek out a mysterious “sunshine girl” who can control the rain, so Suga tasks Hodaka with finding her. In the process of trying, Hodaka encounters a young woman named Hina (Nana Mori), who’s being harassed by the owners of a back-alley gentlemen’s club that’s trying to recruit her. Hodaka scares them off, but Hina flees, so he follows her into an abandoned building. Not only does he discover that Hina is the girl seeks, he falls head over heals in love with her. But it turns out there’s more to Hina’s powers than meets the eye.
Never let it be said that the Japanese aren’t a wildly romantic people, because this is certainly a wildly romantic animated film. As evidenced by both Your Name and this work, Shinkai is clearly a filmmaker who’s interested in exploring the chaotic interactions between Japan’s older cultural traditions and the technological intrusions of modern world. He’s dealing with magic here, not to mention climate change, and of course young love and the idealism of youth. The result is a charming and hopeful character drama, with elements of fantasy and romance co-mixed in a way that only anime seems to excel at. The animation style is breathtaking, combining traditional hand-drawn artistry with computer animation and heavy atmospherics (rain, cloud, and fog) to create a moody and evocative visual tapestry. The Japanese voice cast is excellent. If you should choose to use it instead, the film’s English dubbed audio features the voice talents of Lee Pace, Alison Brie, Riz Ahmed, Ashley Boettcher, and Brandon Engman.
Weathering with You’s production is a bit complicated. Some hand-painted background artwork may have been scanned in 2K or 4K, but most environments were rendered in CG. All of the characters were drawn manually and scanned, colored, and finished in the computer, then rendered in vector and finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate at the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. For this Ultra HD presentation, that source has been upsampled to 4K and graded for high dynamic range (both Dolby Vision and HDR10 are included on the disc). The image quality is tremendous, as is almost always the case with animation (upsampled or not). While subtle details and texturing are only slightly improved over the excellent standard Blu-ray presentation (owing to the higher data rate and thus less compression), the 10-bit HDR really enhances the film’s palette, allowing you to see every bit of the color depth and nuance while also deepening the shadows and making the bright rays of sunlight and the shine of raindrops a bit more bold. I wouldn’t say the difference between the Blu-ray and 4K is huge, but there’s absolutely no doubt that UHD is the best way to view this film.
Audio is available on the 4K disc in the original Japanese and dubbed English, each in lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio format. The soundstage is medium-wide up front, with the surrounds used for music and atmospheric effects. There are occasions where wind, rain, and other elements move around the listener, panning smoothly from channel to channel. Dialogue is always clean and clear, and the playful Radwimps soundtrack and score are presented with pleasing fidelity. Note that 5.1 English Descriptive Audio and 5.1 French Dolby Digital are also available, as are optional subtitles in English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, English for the Original Language Version (the default when you select the Japanese audio), and both Spanish and French for the Original Language Version. There are also optional Lyrics subtitles in English only for the film’s songs.
This GKids/Shout! Factory wide-release version (like the Limited Collector’s Edition package reviewed here) includes the film on 4K Ultra HD, with no extras. However, you also get the film in 1080p HD on a Blu-ray, which adds the following special features:
- Interview with Director Matoko Shinkai (HD – 11:14)
- Exploring Makoto Shinkai’s Filmography (HD – 13:00)
- Weather Front (HD – 24:08)
- Talk Show: Makoto Shinkai and Yumiko Udo (HD – 60:02)
- Trailers & TV Spots (HD – 9 clips – 10:35 in all)
All of these include English subtitles. The director’s interview is the most interesting, while Weather Front seems to be a Japanese TV special celebrating the film’s opening day. Talk Show is also a Japanese TV program, featuring host Yumiko Udo in discussion with the director. Unlike the Limited Collector’s Edition however, this package does not include the exclusive bonus Blu-ray with The Making of Weathering with You documentary, nor do you get the 31-track soundtrack CD, the 108-page softcover book and other swag. This release also comes in a standard Amaray case with a slipcover only, instead of the hard slipcase.
Weathering with You is a remarkable piece of work from a remarkable filmmaker. The 4K presentation from GKids and Shout! Factory is terrific, making this wide-release Ultra HD a welcome (and now more affordable) upgrade. Personally, I’d love to see Shout! and GKids give some of the Studio Ghibli titles they distribute 4K upgrades. In the meantime, this UHD release is definitely a better overall value for more casual fans of this particular film.
- Bill Hunt