Year in Review: Makoto Shinkai

You know, Makoto Shinkai made this short which debut on NHK this week about cats.

DANGER CHOBI ROBINSON, DANGER

Unlike his first known work, She and Her Cat, this colorful skit about cats is probably his first comedic work. Aside from the shared namesake of Chobi, anyways, there are not a whole lot in common. A Gathering of Cats is part of a program on NHK that highlights notable animators and have them put on a show for us. The short is merely 60 seconds long, so be sure to grab it and take a look!

Anyways, back to Year in Review: Shinkai is indeed one of the shining beacon of light dotting the landscape of the anime scene for me. This year was particularly remarkable with the release of 5cm. This will be the first post rounding out my favorited spotlights of this ending 2007.

One thing I love about anime is how it takes a very eastern, humanist message and package it in a candy shell. I don’t really care about the usual story so much that drives American television (but sometimes they do offer something interesting), so I take particular notice at this kind of thing. Unlike my more adventurous breathens I don’t steep deep into it; the random jpop tie-in of Studio 4C’s Amazing Nuts is as far as I go with the really weird this year (I didn’t watch it until 2007, bleh), I guess.

But more about Shinkai. I think 5cm is really his first film that he could be truly proud of. Hey, it won foreign film fest awards. Regardless how you like it compared to his earlier works (which definitely depends on your tolerance and affinity to the lo lo sappy romance happy end), Shinkai actually managed to tell a story with his film. In his last movie, Beyond the Cloud, he merely told us a story as a normal film did, and his film played second fiddle (albeit in Tenmon’s orchestra that is still pretty awesome) to the colliding mystery and the romantic reunion of the protagonist couple. In 5cm, the film carried the story like a master chef going at miles long of ramen dough, or insert some other familiar culinary analogy about kneading…things. The three-way partition throws people off, but I believe this all the more highlights the impressiveness of his narrative through telling us a story with what we experience overall, and not merely what we see or hear.

Plus, it sure as pretty. And I mean Pixar/Studio Ghibli pretty. I am dying to see this on 35mm. Com’on ADV!

Makoto Shinkai is definitely the most exciting prospect on the scene right now for independent anime filmmaking, and he’s just starting to make waves. Will he ever shed that arthouse aura? I don’t know, but I don’t care! It’s good stuff.

This is the first part of a series of blog entries highlighting some of the memorable and remarkable points of 2007 in review.


3 Responses to “Year in Review: Makoto Shinkai”

  • chami

    No matter how much I ragged on the editing of the final part of 5cm, I still love the movie and will still rewatch it once a week.

  • Martin

    “One thing I love about anime is how it takes a very eastern, humanist message and package it in a candy shell.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Actually I also think this movie is his best yet – not his personal favourite of mine per se but it shows greater maturity, which gives an interesting paradox in which it’s both more complex and more pure in its messages. Either way, I’d love to see it on the big screen (I couldn’t make it to the Edinburgh screening in time, for shame).

    The Gathering of Cats short looks like fun too…there doesn’t seem to be a listing on ANN as yet so I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled!

  • TheBigN

    “but I believe this all the more highlights the impressiveness of his narrative through telling us a story with what we experience overall, and not merely what we see or hear.”

    I think that’s why I loved Byousoku no 5cm. Because even though I haven’t been in love, I feel like I can still relate to the characters and how they feel. I couldn’t do that for Hoshi no Koe or Beyond the Clouds, and the romance factor in those two works didn’t help things (yes, I’m one of those people :P).

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