With the announcement of Makoto Shinkai’s latest film project, there has been a lot of discussion and hoopla going around the internet otaku communities and fandoms about his past works. Many folx feel that they are formulaic and boring, or just seem to regurgitate the same exact messages and themes over and over again. Then are the few who strongly see the uniqueness to each Shinkai film and what it represents as a stand-alone work of art. I’m one of the latter, going to be blunt here.
While I do agree that Shinkai’s works all have a similar overall tone and artistic storytelling style, I disagreethat they are all about the same exact messages. This is actually one of the reasons that I’m not as big of a Studio Ghibli fan as the majority of the community. Ghibli’s films are almost always centred on coming-of-age themes as the priority that make them feel heavily clichéd, but even then, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that each movie tells a doppelganger tale.
Every artist has their own unique way of creating, of imagining and concocting the worlds, individuals, stories, and subjective propositions of life, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of “seeing the sameness” across works. However, I also think it’s extremely important to respect each creative project as its very own entity, and that is what I want to focus on for during Spring and Summer with respect to the works of Makoto Shinkai.
Shinkai is one of my favourite filmmakers, regardless of genre or industry. Everything he has ever made has incited an utterly different reaction and a wholly separate line of consciousness to sprout from my brain and my heart. Some works I have thought about for a day or so, others a few weeks to a month, and even a couple that hit me once in a while long after its viewing. Because he can elicit such a response from me, emotionally and intellectually, I adore the dude.
I won’t be able to review each and every single title in his repertoire due to streaming and availability limitations, but beginning next Friday, I am going to concentrate on a short film or a feature film per week and analyse what it meant to me as an individual. What did I see and learn from watching that title? How did it impact the way that, not only how I view anime, but Japanese storytelling and culture, as well as life as I know it with the lived experiences that I have. What makes this different from that?
I shall be doing them in release order for the most part (again subject to streaming and availability limitations), and they will not be spoiler-free. Since the goal is to do a subjectively deep dive examination of super specific parts of the film(s), I want to disclose that the chances of my dropping big spoilers shall be high. I can’t guarantee that each write-up shall be safe for the ones who have yet to see the particular anime being discussed. Sorry, chum.
This announcement was done separately because I really wanted to dedicate some time to chat about why this project is so important to me, as well as the driving thoughts and passion behind putting it together. I hope that over the course of the next one to two seasons, you can join me on this positively mind-opening journey of creative discovery via works of Makoto Shinkai. Some of the works that shall be discussed are highlighted below.