Japanese animation is unlike any other of its kind. The West has Disney and Pixar to push the limits of animation, but these companies are now focusing more of their resources on ultra-fine 3D content.
In contrast to these, we have studios like Studio Ghibli celebrating the world of 2D as a timeless style.
But while every movie fan knows about Hayao Miyazaki and his numerous Ghilbi masterpieces, it’s also important to know about Makoto Shinkai and his filmography, especially now that he has a new film.
Shinkai’s Pursuit of Teenage Innocence
The 46-year-old director has always been fascinated with the youth and how they grapple with changes in life: leaving school, experiencing love and heartache for the first time, letting go of one’s dreams to have a mundane yet stable office job.
These are almost universal experiences that he hopes to capture. Thankfully, Shinkai knows exactly what he wants in his films. He has the vision, the resources, and the skill to make a distinct and vibrant anime movie.
His first feature-length film, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, combined childhood friends with international political tension and space technology.
Then came the lush and heartbreaking 5 Centimeters Per Second in 2007, which was arguably his most popular and best creation for some time.
In more or less an hour, the film showed three chapters of two people growing apart. It is this film that resonates the most with young adults who’ve lost their passion.
The Pressure for the New Movie to Succeed
What made Shinkai a household name was Your Name., released in 2016 not only to critical acclaim but also record-breaking box office success.
The film was so popular in Japan it raked around $190 million, making it the second-highest-grossing local film in the country, second only to Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, Your Name. also made waves around the world. The movie got over $80 million in China. This was enough to make it the most successful 2D animated movie there.
It also debuted at No. 1 in South Korea and it’s the highest-grossing Japanese movie in Thailand. What’s more, the US wants to make a live-action remake.
As for the accolades, Shinkai couldn’t keep up with all of them. Your Name. won as the Best Animated Feature Film at the 49th Sitges Film Festival and won in both the BFI London Film Festival and the Bucheon International Animation Festival.
A Good, Promising Start for ‘Weathering With You’
Now we have Weathering With You, which premiered in Japan in July. The hype was immense, and the box office results were fantastic: Shinka’s film got $15 million in three days.
That is $2.5 million more than what Your Name. had in the same timeframe. Plus, it’s now been at No. 1 for three weeks straight.
Of course, Weathering With You is poised to take over the world. While Your Name. was released in 130 countries, the new film will come out in 140.
Thousands of fans in India also signed a petition to have it screened in their country. Furthermore, it’s already planned for release in North America and Australia.
Still, we have to keep watch. The current reviews aren’t as stellar as the ones for Your Name., and this could affect how Weathering With You performs over the coming months in Japan and beyond.