Some people are very detail oriented, directed, motivated, focused and ultimately, verbose.
I can’t quite say that about Makoto Shinkai, but that is how he came across when I spent the good half hour reading the wall-of-text interview on the 5cm DVD (R1 release, thx ADV!). He doesn’t ramble–in fact it seemed like it was well-planned, almost as if he has had time to think up answers to the open-ended questions these interviews tend to make them answer.
What was impressive was seeing the same degree of attentiveness to detail to his works. And it’s not so much in the animation but in the degree of control he exercised over the work that made it seem like he knows what he is doing–what exactly he wanted to say to his viewers, and how he wanted it done.
I won’t parrot what he said in there, but I will say there was even a lolcat moment.
Even though it was well planned, it seemed that he did not have anything to read back from, so the speech was natural (and at parts, edited for brevity) when he hits the various points to answer a question. The question he gets asked all the time (such as “are you telling us a story from your own life?”) he answers rather concisely; but some of the more descriptive questions surrounding 5cm’s production gets much more fleshed out.
And how he transitioned from what lifts him up from his daily grind as an office guy to a way of life; a hobby turns into a full time job. It’s probably worthy of being told in a film all by itself.
In a nutshell, while some advertisers may jump quickly and claim Shinkai’s successorship as the next Miyazaki, I see him as someone who has simply mastered storytelling in this one particular style. Perhaps today’s media industry lacks people who knows how to tell stories, especially in this style, but it will be up to him to combine his talents, dedication, and finding the story that he wants to speak to us about. That’ll be the defining prereq of his true masterpiece.
Still, I have a hard time running out of things to say about 5cm. Sure, it really spoke to me, and many others, but much like Satoshi Kon’s works (and he’s another very detail-oriented person) there’s just a jam-packed amount of stuff in the film. Not only it takes a long time to unpack all that’s in the film, Shinkai has made it fun to do so. In light of the new Spring 2008 offerings, I am still mostly ambivalent about that in light of what has transpired in an year-old film that ran just a tad over an hour.
In one of those soul-searching moments, a stroll in the valley of introspection and self-reflection, things like 5cm is exactly what props me up and reaffirms that there’s something worth being a fan for in this business.
And 5cm says it so simply. Concisely.