Calling him unlikeable is mincing words.
A lot of people adored Makoto Shinkai’s latest animated movie, Weathering With You. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them.
My review has since received flak and attacks from Shinkai fans and weeaboos who apparently think that Weathering With You is the greatest anime masterpiece since 2016’s Your Name and that it’s a crime for anyone not to like the movie.
Sure, Weathering With You featured breathtakingly-beautiful animation and visuals of unparallel quality. But it had several glaring problems and flaws, including its extremely unlikeable male protagonist, Hodaka Morishima, and its ridiculously nonsensical plot.
I will be discussing full spoilers from Weathering With You below, so if you haven’t watched the movie yet, this is your last chance to stop reading.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that I hate Hodaka with an unbridled passion. He is one of the most unlikeable male protagonists I’ve ever had the displeasure of knowing. In Weathering With You, Hodaka is a 16-year-old boy who runs away from home and escapes to Tokyo to find a new life there.
And that’s literally all we learn about the character for the entirety of the movie. Shinkai couldn’t even take a few minutes out of the movie’s almost two-hour-long runtime to explain why Hodaka is running away from home in the first place.
The one and only attempt to flesh out and develop Hodaka in the movie is in a scene where he reveals that the reason why he can’t go back home is because he finds living with his parents too suffocating.
What exactly does “suffocating” mean? Did his parents abuse him either physically or emotionally? Did something happen with his parents that forced him to run away from home? No, all we know is that his parents were too “suffocating”.
This makes him come across as a spoiled brat who ran away from home for seemingly petty and selfish reasons. He sounds like a naive delinquent in his rebellious teenage phase who doesn’t care about how his actions negatively affect others.
Hodaka acts rashly and impulsively throughout the movie, never thinking about what long-term effects of whatever he does. Some people would say that this behaviour is considered normal for a teenager his age, but that doesn’t excuse what he does throughout the movie.
Thanks to Hodaka’s status as a runaway minor, he brings problems to both female protagonist Hina Amano and supporting adult character Keisuke Suga. It turns out that the police have been looking for him, bringing dire ramifications for both Hina and Suga.
The police inform Hina that social services will be called in to take away Nagi (Hina’s younger brother) because they are minors with no legal guardian, while Suga refuses to help harbour Hodaka any longer for fear of negatively impacting his ongoing custody case for his daughter.
What is Hodaka’s reaction to all this? Not to give himself to the police and go home like a sensible and responsible person would, but instead what he does next is to further drag Hina and her brother to run away with him.
Hodaka even has delusions of somehow being able to sustain living with just Hina and her brother at hotels with just the one-time severance pay Suga gave him. That further proves just how childish he is, and how his actions will only endanger those around him.
It all comes to a head when Hodaka commits the ultimate selfish act during the climax of Weathering With You. In the lore established within the movie, Hina is a sunshine girl or weather maiden who must be sacrificed in order to appease/stop the increasingly-aggressive and unpredictable weather.
Hina sacrifices herself to stop the torrential rain from flooding the city of Tokyo, but Hodaka, blinded by his love for her, engages in a frantic chase from the police to try and save her. At one point, Suga gets involved again and Hodaka points a freaking gun at him (and several cops) like an unhinged maniac.
He ultimately succeeds in saving Hina from being sacrificed but in doing so, caused the crazy weather to return and ravage Tokyo.
After jumping forward three years into the future, we find out that Hodaka finally graduated from high school (while on probation) and that half of Tokyo is now flooded and submerged in water.
That’s right. Hodaka’s actions caused a whole Waterworld situation to happen in Tokyo, but it seems that the inhabitants are seemingly fine with it and shrugging it off nonchalantly. We’re supposed to be okay with Hodaka causing countless citizens to be displaced with nowhere to go (now that their homes are underwater)?
It must have been chaotic as hell in those three years while Tokyo started to slowly drown in rising water levels. It would’ve been a nightmarish situation for everyone in the city.
But no, we’re supposed to accept it all on the basis of one senile grandma saying that this is all just Tokyo simply returning to how it was in olden times when it was a bay.
The guilt of being single-handedly responsible for all of that should be psychologically-devastating for anyone, let alone a naive teenager. Hodaka must be a psychopath of some sort if he’s seriously perfectly fine with everything that’s happened.
Weathering With You expects us to not only sympathise and relate with Hodaka but somehow celebrate his relationship with Hina. He saved Hina at the expense of a city with millions of people whose lives were disrupted by a massive environmental change.
I’m sorry but as touching and emotional as it all was, I just couldn’t bear to support Hodaka in any way. His only redeemable quality is that he’ll do anything for love and to recap; that includes stealing a cop’s gun and pointing it at the man (Suga) who gave him shelter when had none and causing irreversible harm to millions of people by submerging half of Tokyo.
You can like Weathering With You all you want, especially in lush and detailed animation, but no one in their right mind would say that Hodaka is a ‘good’ protagonist.
If anything, the plot and character course for Hodaka in the movie seems fitting for the origin of a supervillain, or at the very least a mentally-disturbed individual.