I finally watched Your Name (Kimi no Na wa), the biggest film in Japan last year, and I loved it. When the movie came out and was breaking box office records, I started looking into its director, Makoto Shinkai, and really enjoyed everything I watched. Just like the rest of his work, this movie is a visual treat, with the amazing colorscapes you tend to see in all of his movies, and environments that feel so familiar if you’ve spent time in Japan. It’s a great story too, and more complex than I was expecting — and I’m glad I never got spoiled on most of it before watching it.
I really do need to make a point of highlighting every episode of Toco Toco TV here, because it truly is my favorite online video series. The episode before the latest (on Shinji Tsuchimochi) covered musician Daisuke Kashiwa, who has been composing the soundtracks for the animated films of Makoto Shinkai, whose latest film, Your Name, is now (or about to be) the top grossing film ever in Japan.
I first heard the name Mokoto Shinkai the other day when my wife mentioned that his latest film, the animated Your Name (reviewed here by The Japan Times), had scored a huge box office opening since its release last week in Japan (grossing close to $40 million during its first 10 days). Not really knowing anything about him and his films, I did some digging, and decided to watch some of his work last night. I started with the film 5 Centimeters Per Second, which is made up of 3 slightly-interlocking chapters. The story of young love didn’t really grab me, but what did grab me was the stunningly beautiful animated world we’re presented with, both in terms of its hyper-real portrayal (it’s a Japan you recognize as true) and its inspired use of color. Add to this an intriguing structure and edits, and it resulted in a film I loved taking in. I then followed this up with a 6-minute short film he also directed, called Dareka no Manazashi, which I loved as well. I can’t wait to watch the rest of what he’s produced so far.