“Kimi no Na wa”: A New Makoto Shinkai Film, Announced for August 2016
December 18, 2015
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“I am searching for you, whom I have never met yet.” —Movie Tagline
Late in January 2015, Makoto Shinkai posted to his blog that he was working on the storyboards to a new story. Nearly a year later, the film’s title and story has been released. Called “Kimi no Na wa” (Your Name), the new film is going to follow the seemingly disparate lives of two high school students shortly after a comet has impacted Japan for the first time in a millennium. Mitsuba (Moka Kamishiraishi) lives in rural Japan but longs to move to a city its hustle and bustle. She frequently experiences dreams of life as a young man. Taki (Ryuunosuke Kamiki) lives in Tokyo; working part time at an Italian restaurant, he has a particularly strong interest in architecture, but dreams that he’s a female student attending a rural high school. This enigmatic connection seemingly links the two together and appears to form the basis for the main story, leading one to question what secrets said connection entails, and how all of this relates with the impact event. The unique combination of everyday familiarity with a touch of fantasy is distinctly Makoto Shinkai, and as per the post’s title, it will be released in Japanese theatres somewhere in August 2016. A bit of pattern analysis suggests that a home release will follow anywhere from two to six months after depending on its length (so, if it’s an hour or less, it’s quite possible that the movie could be out as soon as September-October 2016, while a feature-length movie exceeding 90 minutes will probably mean a home release in February 2017).
Screenshots and Commentary
- Impact events have a very profound effect on the immediate landscape, and larger impacts can significantly alter the planet’s climate. Sources are painting the impacting object as a comet, although this is technically incorrect: most comets average from several hundred meters to tens of kilometers across. An object with a 75 meter diameter would hit the surface with roughly 100 MT, which would annihilate a major city and yield a 1.5 kilometer wide crater. The smallest of comets, a few hundred meters in diameter, would impact with 15 GT, enough energy to destroy an area the size of Taiwan. So, the translations might not be accurate, and the impacting object is probably an asteroid no greater than 10 metres in diameter.
- Discussions off-site marvel at the level of detail that an iPhone 6 is depicted in. There are just enough differences between the real-world equivalent and this fictionalised version to avoid a lawsuit: while the interface seen on the screen is clearly iOS 9, the fictionalised phone’s edges are more angular than that of its real-world counterpart. I upgraded my Nokia Lumia 520 to an iPhone 6 more than a month ago for iOS development purposes, and because I’m quite familiar with the iOS ecosystem, this phone’s proven to be far more useful than my old Windows Phone.
- I still retain enough of my Chinese knowledge to read the squared-out section as “During the evening” (literally “evening-time”). The trailer was released on December 10, and featured extremities that characterise Shinkai’s specialities: intricate, highly-detailed depiction of mundane subjects (phones, blackboards and what appears to be a loom), as well as stunningly vivid skies.
- The cityscapes depicted in the Kimi no Na wa trailer appear to depict the same areas of Tokyo that were seen in Five Centimeters per Second. Both the previous films (Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below and Garden of Words) are as detailed as Five Centimeters per Second but made use of more advanced lighting techniques to bring scenes to life: I often compare the differences in the artwork for Shinkai’s later works to the differences between Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4, where the graphical advancements were quite subtle but noticeable.
- With that being said, there is an upper limit to how intricate or vivid Shinkai’s works can be: the visual fidelity improved dramatically between The Placed Promised in Our Early Days and Five Centimeters per Second, but since then, have remained quite consistent. Thus, I can be quite certain in saying that Kimi no Na wa will be very similar to Garden of Words in terms of graphics, leaving only the story as an avenue for improvement.
- While Shinkai’s artistic talent and sense are unparalleled, his story-telling comes across as being weaker: Five Centimeters per Second is easily his best film, for being focused and telling a realistic, but melancholic story about one individual’s distance defeating his feelings for a girl he’d known since childhood. However, the ending proved to be somewhat difficult to understand for the audience. I’ve done an exhaustive review and analysis of the anime, hopefully clearing up some of these inconsistencies.
- Distance and separation form the bulk of the themes for Shinkai’s movies, and admittedly, I am not particularly keen on his interpretation of distance in Five Centimeters per Second, which suggested that the process of absence driving longing, and longing begetting melancholy, is outside of one’s control. Consequently, his characters suffer, grow depressed as a result of being unable to affect their circumstances. His later films attempt to step away from this, and while the execution becomes choppier (it would appear that Shinkai is not particularly versed on writing happier stories), I appreciate them all the same for aiming to be more optimistic: Garden of Words was quite fun to watch for that reason, as Takao is actively doing everything he can to connect with Yukari, and even though she ultimately moves, the efforts turn out to be worth something.
- Therefore, going into Kimi no Na wa, I think that the story would stand to gain a great deal if either 1) the romance aspects are outlined in a positive manner to help Mitsuba and Taki understand more about their circumstances or 2) is discarded altogether in favour of a conventional friendship, such that any romantic overtones need not be explored in further detail. The second approach is preferred simply because it would allow for Mitsuba and Taki to explore their dreams much more openly, in greater detail, without demanding inordinate time to reasonably build up a relationship, plus all of the challenges, especially since it’s clear that neither Mitsuba or Taki have previously met.
- I do not believe that the composer for Kimi no Na wa‘s music is known yet. Garden of Words‘ soundtrack was by Daisuke Kashiwa, and previous films featured music from Tenmon. The minimalistic presence of music in Shinkai’s works is fitting: details in the environment and lighting serve to convey particular moods and emotions in place of heavier musical accompaniment, and consequently, the music in most of Shinkai’s films (save Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below) acts to create ambiance.
- The upcoming wait for Kimi no Na wa is anywhere from ten to sixteen months; I’m willing to bet an arm and a leg that Girls und Panzer Der Film will have a home release well before then. Because the release date is so far in the future, I cannot guarantee that I’ll still be in a position to review this when the time comes, but I am going to do my best to try and watch it.
With Shinkai’s previous showings in mind, I anticipate that Kimi no Na wa will probably not be the powerhouse performance that Five Centimeters per Second was: his most recent two works, Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below and Garden of Words both were quite unique and entertaining. Moreover, they carry Makoto Shinkai’s signature style, featuring incredibly detailed interiors, landscapes, lighting details and artwork of common everyday objects. This particular aspect has become something that Shinkai’s become quite renowned for. In addition to his artwork, Shinkai’s love stories are also distinct: they tend towards a more open ending, leaving viewers to speculate what might progress from there. In doing so, Shinkai suggests that life itself is most definitely not deterministic and can’t be predicted; besides Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below, most of Shinkai’s stories take a particularly melancholic outlook on love itself, suggesting that it is unattainable for some. I am hoping that this will not be the case in Kimi no Na wa, as the premise appears to be conducive for two individuals coming together through fate. In fact, I assert that Kimi no Na wa will probably deliver a superior story if love is omitted: Mitsuba and Taki’s encounter should result in a friendship, not relationship, that allows the two to learn more about the secrets surrounding their dreams without introducing additional detritus that limits the main story.