Okay, most people in Asia would saying I’m shockingly behind on discussing this topic. However, although I have quite a few friends who are avid anime watchers, I’ve only been able to discuss Makoto Shinkai with one person.
Everyone knows that Hayao Miyazaki is the anime king, but there’s a new player in the game, and his film Your Name. surpassed the iconic Spirited Away as the highest grossing anime movie of all time. I watched it for the first time a few weeks ago and even a minute after the final credits ended, my best friend and I were still sitting there with our mouths hung open in shock.
Your Name. was perhaps the single most heart-wrenching, aesthetically pleasing, and mind-bending film that I’ve ever seen. It was so realistic that you felt as though you knew the characters personally, yet at the same time, the limitations of the human body and spirit and the linearity of time are malleable. The soundtrack sounded like crystal and raindrops, if that’s even possible, and the story line was complex and often dark; a love story lost in time. Just listen to the first words of the film:
Why do we wake up crying from a dream we’ve already begun to forget? Why does the feeling of loss linger after the memory of that dream has faded to a vague feeling of something that should be there but isn’t? How can we long for something we cannot even give a name?
His first film, Our Early Days, came out in 2004, and his second 5 Centimeters Per Second, was released in 2007. The latter film was the masterpiece which won him the attention of many respected critics who accurately predicted his future triumphs. However, Shinkai’s commercial success skyrocketed in just the past few years.
Shinkai has the unique ability to create complex characters, magical soundtracks, and story lines that we have never seen before. His animation alone makes it impossible for the view to tear their eyes away from the screen. Like Miyazaki, his films present the viewer with powerful moral lessons.
Makoto Shinkai drew a lot of inspiration from Studio Ghibli and admires Hayao Miyazaki, even stating that his favorite anime is Castle In The Sky. Miyazaki, who has always been open in honest criticisms of other films and animators, spoke in an interview about how impressed he was with the animation of the sky falling in Your Name.
There seems to be no hostility between these two famous animators, but a mutual respect and admiration. Miyazaki is incredibly talented, there is no denying that. But there was bound to be a time when another animator would join him in the spotlight, perhaps as an equal. Even though Makoto Shinkai is seeing success on par with Miyzaki’s, it does not take away anything from Miyazaki or make him less than. They are two powerful, gifted individuals who have treated the world over and over again to beautiful stories that we hold dear to our hearts.