Your Name is the latest film from visionary director Makoto Shinkai, and it lands in JB Hi-Fi stores this week.
Your Name follows the lives of Mitsuha, a girl from rural Japan, and Taki, a boy living in Tokyo – two teenagers that randomly swap bodies when they fall asleep. It’s an innovative and beautiful take on the classic body-swap scenario, and an accessible entry for many into the world of anime – a realm that tends to frighten and confuse a lot of people. Rest assured, Your Name doesn’t feature supernatural creatures, giant naked bodies, or digital monsters. Its themes of time and relationships will resonate with everyone.
So who is the man behind this Japanese masterpiece? Starting out as a video game graphics designer, Makoto Shinkai began creating short films and publishing them on the internet. His first two, Other Worlds and She and Her Cat, were the start of what would become a long and illustrious filmmaking career.
“Your Name’s themes of time and relationships will resonate with everyone”
Having created the aforementioned films while still working at the game development company, Shinkai believed he could do better still if he devoted more of his time to the art. He quit his job to work solely on his next project – Voices of a Distant Star, which follows the story of two lovers maintaining a relationship through time and space. It was a 25-minute short that took eight months to complete, and gave the world its first real taste of Shinkai’s magical technique.
Voices of a Distant Star was the showpiece that propelled Shinkai into the animation hall of fame. The film won awards around the world – both theatrically and in its home entertainment format – for its touching plot and otherworldly score. Shinkai credits his work’s resonance with audiences to the fact that he creates movies that he himself would want to watch; films that would also delight and enthral viewers.
Prior to the release of Your Name this year, and in addition to Voices of a Distant Star, Shinkai is best known for his work on Garden of Words. The film follows the relationship that develops between a schoolboy and a teacher, after a number of meetings in a park where both are avoiding their responsibilities. Garden of Words again reiterates Shinkai’s flair for combining relationships with picturesque locations within a striking visual palette.
Shinkai’s art style is immediately recognisable in his work; he favours the use of lighting, especially backlighting, to set the mood, and a lot of his films focus on the passage of time and its repercussions.
Despite his success, he remains a decidedly humble artist; one that has drawn many favourable comparisons to legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.
Films by Makoto Shinkai
- Other Worlds
- She and Her Cat
- Voices of a Distant Star
- 5cm Per Second
- Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below
- Garden of Words
- Your Name