Not so long ago, the next film by Makoto Shinkai, "Weathering with You", was released, which we translated as "Weather Child". Polygon spoke with the film's director.
The anime "Weathering with You" feels familiar, but it brings to the fore what is often present in his films: the connection with the environment. Hayao Miyazaki also emphasizes this, with whom Shinkai is compared. His past films Your Name, The Garden of Fine Words, Catchers of Forgotten Voices have focused on how different seasons affect our feelings, especially love. These motifs permeate the scenery of his films, representing the beautiful backgrounds for which his paintings are so famous.
"Weathering with You" is the story of a 16-year-old fugitive Hodaki, who moves from the hinterland to the ever-rainy Tokyo with nothing but clothes on his back.
Eventually, he finds a place to live and work with a man named Suga, a detective who maintains a yellow occult magazine. Hodaks are assigned to lead a column "Urban Legends", and asked to find a girl with magical powers to stop the rain and saddle the sunlight. His quest eventually leads him to Hina, the girl who once offered him food while he was starving. It turns out that Hina can actually rule the sky - a gift that can bring happiness to depressing and eternally rainy Tokyo.
After the film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, Polygon sat down beside the director to discuss WeatherChild, the current state of the industry, and a remake of Your Name.
You worked on Your Name right up until the release, were there any problems that you struggled with while creating Weather Child?
It was equally difficult to create "Your name" as "Weather child". The problem lies in the current state of animation in Japan: not enough people, not enough time and not enough money. I think one of the things we need to do in the anime industry is to create a better system to help production. During the creation of Weathering With You, we had a personal massage therapist and acupuncturist who came to the studio to take care of the staff. We also brought lunch boxes with us, so you know, there is good food. I think that the massage therapist worked the most during the creation of the painting, because we spent a lot of time hunched over.
Aren't you afraid to follow the road of success that your past painting left behind?
I don't think I was under pressure during creation. I originally made "Your Name" a hit that will appeal to many people. I planned to create exactly what many wanted to see for a long time. There was a feeling that the circumstances were just successful, so I don't think that such an atmosphere can be simply recreated. This time, I just wanted to do what I want to see myself and see how the audience reacts to it [laughs].
Well, that was pretty good.
I'm happy that we were able to do what many liked. However, when I first saw the film with the public, I never stopped noticing things that could have been done better than they were. I mean, people laughed when they needed it, but then I saw a bunch of things that I would change. Now I want to make the next film with all this in mind.
You did Voice of a Distant Star almost alone in 2002. How has working in a large team influenced the creative process?
There is actually a big difference between making a film yourself and with a huge team, but overall, nothing has changed. I still do all the storyboards myself, but the difference is that I am talking to a lot of people now. And now that I have already worked on one project on my own, I am satisfied with the current state of affairs. In fact, teamwork is much more fun. Even if I do the whole storyboard myself, I can draw, get feedback from colleagues, and then fix or change things. Having this kind of communication with my team is really fun. Presenting the project to the audience and collecting their impressions is also a lot of fun.
Your work is often compared to the work of Studio Ghibli, and generally called "the second Miyazaki." How do you feel about this comparison?
I think in Japan the term "next Miyazaki" is applied to everyone who has created a commercially successful project. It is true, I was inspired by Mr. Miyazaki; he has those same universal themes in all his works, to which people are strongly attached, something from that specific era, which was then heard and relevant. I want to do something similar in my films. In Weathering with You, I tried to account for the ongoing environmental disasters that have become more prominent in Japan. I wanted people to feel that there is something relevant in my film.
Did you think about climate change when creating the project?
I had two topics that I wanted to touch on. First, this is unconditionally, climate change, because there have already been so many disasters because of it, we see it in the news every day and this problem is directly related to our lives. There are people who die from this, buildings that are destroyed during cataclysms, and it touched me so much. That's what I'm worried about, so I wanted to include the issue [climate change issue - WorldOfTopics]. Well, secondly, oppose the hero's personal desires with the desires of society and the benefits for him, and the confrontation between them.
Many of your works, for example, "The Garden of Fine Words", "Weather Child" are closely related to nature, especially rain. Are you building a connection between them?
Garden of the Graceful came out in 2013, Weather Child in 2019. I think over the past six years, people in Japan have changed their attitude towards rain and the seasons. The rain used to be beautiful and the seasons seemed to follow each other slowly, the color of the leaves and the like. In The Garden of Fine Words, rain was something that brought people together. But in recent years, these seasonal changes are fleeting and seem to attack us at great speed. That is why I wanted the rain to be more aggressive and dangerous in the new picture.
Earlier, you said that anime is very rare to see at international festivals. You introduced Weather Child here, and Japan chose it as a country Oscar film, do you feel like anime is becoming equal to films?
When I was chosen, I was surprised, honestly. I thought, "Why did you choose this painting?" In Japan, everyone watches anime more than animated films. Today anime is a part of Japanese culture, and is associated specifically with our country. But as far as Oscars are concerned, I don't know if we can compete with real films. I think I'll find out more when the film comes out in North America.
Actually, when I was doing anime, I was targeting Japanese youth. Music, lyrics - they have a lot of meaning, but at the same time the pace is so fast to keep up with their rhythm of life. But I know that children or seniors fall into the same category as the global audience. I'm a little worried about whether I've done enough to entertain people outside of this target audience. Sorry to worry too much, but I'm worried about that.
However, your recent work has been an international success! Let's talk about the plans for an American remake of Your Name. Have you already spoken to the people who do it?
The fact is that everything is fine with the last film, and even more so with the new one. It's just my essence to be always concerned. As for the Hollywood remake, I cannot divulge information. But I do talk to the Hollywood team, especially screenwriter Eric Heisser [he may be familiar to you from the movie Arrival]. I got the script, made edits and got feedback. So yes, I am constantly in touch, but I can't talk about a lot, although I leave a lot to their discretion. What they want is cool, and I look forward to seeing the result.
The Topic of Article: ”Weathering with You” is as big a creative challenge as ”Your Name” - Makoto Shinkai.