Let’s Talk A Little About Makoto Shinkai

Disclaimer: This is a non-photography related post.

Recently, the release of a new anime movie titled “Kimi no Na Wa” (Your Name) has stormed the world with great reviews and everyone was talking about it. I watched the movie myself and I couldn’t agree more. This is a movie from Makoto Shinkai, a film director and former graphic designer, an extremely talented creative artist.

I’ve enjoyed his movie since the early days. I can still recall the first movie I watched from him was “Hoshi no Koe” (Voices of a Distant Star), a story about love and distance between the young couple who were separated light years apart. Although the graphic of this anime is not that pretty, the meaning and the story behind was indeed meaningful and touching. If you are in a long distance relationship while watching this, you will sure feel the pain and roll your tears. This movie has marked his name in my heart ever since.

Later on, Makoto Shinkai released another movie titled “Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho” (The Place Promised in Our Early Days). This is another love story with some sci-fi essence in it. The story revolves around the mystery between the tower built on their homeland and the lady who was loved by these two young gentlemen, about their dreams and their love story. It’s a rather slow paced movie which you need to slowly indulge in it to dig in the feeling and atmosphere. Graphics are certainly much better than the previous movie, and you can slowly see the style and signature of Makoto Shinkai all over the movie.

The next movie released from his production is a short movie titled “Byousoku 5 Senchimetoru” (5 centimetre per second). This is probably the movie that signifies the breakthrough of his graphical production as every scene of the movie is just so well illustrated and perfectly executed. This movie consist of three short stories that talk about the love story between a childhood couple, how they endured the pain of long distance relation, and how their relation changed as they were further apart and as they grew older. It’s a very sad and painful story, but yet they are so true and they feel so close and so real. This is the “magic” that Makoto Shinkai managed to evoke in his movie. A sense of connection to the viewer where we can really understand and relate the story to our memories in our life. I have watched this movie for countless time, and I can’t help but to cry every time I watched it.

Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo” (Children Who Chases Lost Voices from Deep Below) is probably a movie with least of Makoto Shinkai’s signature. To me it’s more like a Studio Ghibli kinda movie production. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s not a good movie. It is a very nice movie of its own. It’s a story about an adventure that this young lady embarked on in search of solving the mystery of the sounds and voices she heard. There are some very nice meaning behind the story which will make you feel heart warming and touching at the same time.

The next production from Makoto Shinkai was “Kotonoha no Niwa” (The Gardens of Words). This time around, he is backed to his signature love story with beautiful graphics and soundtracks that simply touches the deepest memory and feeling in your heart. This is a story about a young man, an aspiring shoemaker, who happened to meet this lady in the garden during the rainy season. Soon, they are meeting each other more often but when the rainy season is over, their relation was put to the real test. A very nice movie indeed.

Last but not least, “Kimi no Na Wa” (Your Name) was released this year and this movie has marked a new milestone for Makoto Shinkai in many respects. To me, this is probably the essence of all the greatness of Makoto Shinkai and Japanese Anime concentrated into one perfectly executed movie. This is a story about two teenagers who had their body “swapped” from time to time. They didn’t know why this happened, but when they do, they realized that their fate and their love were in real test and danger. Again, superb graphics and soundtrack as you would expect from any of Makoto Shinkai’s film. However, this time around more story elements had been added into the movie which provides a greater perspective and broader meaning and message to the viewers. Hence, the great success it achieved.

So what is the “signature” of Makoto Shinkai you may asked? Well, to me here are some of the reasons why I loved the movie he produced thus far. But this is just me, others may felt differently and it’s totally okay.

  • Scene are often taken from real life location which makes you feel “closer” when you have been to those places before, or during your next visit to those places
  • Timeline of the story is usually “current date” with a twist of fantasy in it, it makes you feel real and surreal at the same time
  • Love story portrayed by him was usually very lovely, but at the same time it came with a splash of sadness, which is probably what we all had been through in our real life
  • Story telling through scenes and background musics which pulls you into his world
  • There’re always some room left for your own imagination
  • Stories and scenes extracted from daily life which echoes and resonates with our memories, giving you more engagement with his movie

Other than animation movie, Makoto Shinkai also get himself involved in various projects such as music video production, script writing, short video creation for other media such as game or TV commercial and so on. Do check out his other works. I’m looking forward to the next production from Makoto Shinkai and hopefully it will not disappoint me. Till then.

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