Makoto Shinkai


It’s out for viewing at Veoh, and subbed. Here’s the link to the video.

I haven’t watched it yet; got a lagging Internet connection at the moment and it’ll take some time. Once I have, rest assured I’ll go analytic and spoilerific. 🙂

Meanwhile – enjoy watching this!!! If you’ve been waiting as eagerly as I have to see this, and the third and last instalment in the Shinkai’s latest work, definitely go to Veoh.com and check them out.

Thank to Seow-chan for letting me know!

*flips back to Veoh tab*

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Thoughts on the DVD of Makoto Shinkai’s first real production. (****)
Hoshi no Koe

“Luke Skywal – ah! Ie, Noboru-kun wa daisuki…” …heh, come on, you thought the same thing…

Makoto Shinkai‘s status as a heavyweight in the Japanese animation industry is only disputable in that ‘heavyweight‘ is a severely ill-chosen word for Shinkai. You’d need to have watched some of his work to understand – in terribly insufficient words, Shinkai’s productions are highly-tempered, finely-tuned, reflective, retrospective, introspective; a confection of delicate (and sometimes surreal) beauty with a central, solid core of some true observation on life. His latest work, Byousoku 5 Centimeter, was essentially a treatise on distance, love, and longing – while Byousoku focuses on spatial distance, Hoshi no Koe focuses on a more abstract form of distance: time. His characters in Hoshi are removed from each other by miles, yes, thousands and thousands of miles, but their situation is compounded by their being unable to communicate in any form other than by cell-phone messages, and those messages, like delayed carrier pigeons facing the approach of winter in the olden days, take increasing amounts of time to reach each other. By the film’s last quarter, this length of time, as Noboru reflects, pretty much means ‘forever’.
Being only 25 minutes long, Hoshi no Koe doesn’t actually have a whole lot of emotional journeying to take us on. An air of the bittersweet introduces, surrounds, and concludes the film; in between, we get more comfortably (uncomfortably? disturbingly? I rather think that we all enjoy getting depressed in this movie though) acquainted with melancholy and longing. And yet, at the end, there’s also hope – Mikako’s meeting with her own self, imagination or projection, is reassuring, and probably a little cathartic. Besides, if you watch with a careful eye for Noboru’s newspaper clippings and the sign he glances at towards the end of the film, Shinkai seems in favour of reunion. Perhaps a little surprising, considering that Shinkai chose to go the realist’s way in Byousoku 5 Centimeter, and perhaps not, because one gets the feeling Shinkai is really a sentimental fellow at heart. All the same, I don’t think the conclusion is the most important part of Shinkai’s work so much as the characters’ persistence in love and remembrance, and yet in acceptance, is significant. It looks like Shinkai’s aim is in portraying the conflict between moving on and ‘staying here’. Like good short stories and manga, he leaves the problem open and doesn’t attempt to solve it for us. That would be pre-emptive. We would be indignant.

Tracers!

Graphics-wise, Hoshi no Koe was Shinkai’s garden in new spring. He’d already established a kind of balance between CGI and pen-and-paper that was significantly his own: take, for example, the outset scenes of Mikako entering her school’s staircase up to the classroom. The flitting between sketchy lines and fully-shaded animation was intriguing – perhaps it reflects Mikako’s brief journey into a place from her past, into the unreal. While it isn’t quite the same effect, I’m reminded of Byousoku‘s transitions between shots of unnervingly realistic environment detail, like the moving floors of the train carriages, against the two-dimensional faces of the characters. And all of this is combined with an ethereal beauty throughout: curtained snow, single sakura petals, crested roads, ruffled leaves, the looming, wondrous backdrop of Jupiter, the sleek, smoothed edges of the Tarsians. Note that while Byousoku dwelled heavily on the daily and the ordinary, Hoshi takes advantage of the surreal space setting to inject a sense of wonder, of alien-ness (the what am I doing here? pressure), of the unbelievable and the impossible and vast loneliness.

The DVD I borrowed from my (most accommodating) local library also had a bunch of special features that made it worth putting a 25-minute film on DVD – a ‘director’s cut’ (more…)

Byousoku 5 Centimeter Wallpaper

…I’ve been waiting desperately for a subbed version of the next 2 episodes of Byousoku 5 Centimeter to come out, especially after reading Cardcaptor’s review of them. Click that if you like spoilers. *laugh* I love them. (Update 17/08/2007 – episode 2 and 3 are available for viewing already! Subbed!) My reading style usually ends up with peeks in the middle, at the end, and here and there in between – if I hated the beginning, I look ahead to see if it’s worth struggling through the initial boredom, and if I’m totally hooked, I look ahead anyway because temptation is my worst enemy and patience my worst ally. Anyway, here’s another link, to the Makoto Shinkai Fan Website, or more precisely, the Byousoku 5 Cm website. There are briefer summaries of the next 2 episodes on that.

And here, we have the official Japanese site’s download page, which has several exceedingly pretty wallpapers for download. Just looking at that page you can tell Byousoku is a very introspective kind of movie – screenshots of a snowy night almost (more…)