Story by Makoto Shinkai
Art by Wataru Kubota
Edited by Kristi Fernandez
Translated by Melissa Tanaka
Produced by Risa Cho & Lorina Mapa
Weathering With You was a film that fully took advantage of the animated medium, to the point where it’s hard to imagine it working in any other format. This places the series’ manga adaptation in a tough position by having to depict its world statically. Thankfully, not all hope is lost, and Weathering With You’s manga is far better than you’d expect.
The first volume of this adaptation covers roughly one-third of the film’s runtime. The story centers on high schooler Hodoka Morishima, who runs away from his island home to Tokyo, where he eventually encounters a young girl named Hina who can change the weather. Like Shinkai’s previous work Your Name, the narrative emphasizes the exploration of youth and the struggles that come with it. Having left his home, Hodoka attempts to live a more invigorating life in Tokyo and attain the freedom he desires. Meanwhile, Hina has lost her mother, forcing her to mature and become self-sufficient for herself and her brother. While Hodoka and Hina come from different circumstances, they both want to live happy lives. Their “Sunshine Girl” service is the culmination of these ideals, allowing them to bring happiness to other people. Both Hina and Hodoka want to provide joy to even the smallest of moments, no matter how ephemeral.
While this manga closely follows the original film, it adds a few things to further flesh out the narrative. In particular, the manga places a heavier focus on Hodoka’s past and why he ran away in the first place. Hodoka felt trapped on his home island and its mundane lifestyle. He wanted to explore the outside world before he became complacent, but now that he’s in Tokyo, he questions whether he made the right decision. Hodoka could have waited until he was an adult to move to Tokyo, but instead he risked his life to experience the outside world prematurely. Hodoka forced himself to grow up too fast, and now he’s feeling the consequences.
Wataru Kubota’s artwork is critical to the success of this manga, and while it doesn’t fully capture the spectacle of the original film, it’s still solid on its own merit. Kubota does a fantastic job of showcasing Tokyo’s spectacle, emphasizing how intimidating the city is to Hodoka. As rain plays a central part in Weathering With You, the manga also ensures that it looks natural in the environment. The minor changes in rain droplets and sound effects help give the series’ frequent rain scenes plenty of charm, and enhance the visual experience. It’s a new but familiar way to see Weathering With You’s world.
Weathering With You’s manga is a solid adaptation, capturing the themes that made the original film so compelling. The manga expands upon the film’s story, and gives further context to its characters and world. I’m looking forward to seeing how this adaptation fairs in the coming volumes.