It’s unpopular opinion time.
Around when I first started the Spellbook I watched Children who Chase Lost Voices and a few weeks ago I watched 5 Centimetres Per Second.
I can tell you two things about them:
- They had really pretty visuals and I respect a man – heck, anyone – who can make their visuals that pretty on a consistent basis with a small army of animators and other staff under their command.
- To be honest…they were kind of dull…5 cm moreso than the other one.
It probably doesn’t help I read about Shinkai movies around the time I finished the first one – I started checking them out after wanting to avoid Your Name while actually taking a look at what Shinkai can do as a director, to ensure I eventually wouldn’t go into Your Name “cold”. (Considering I saw the movie on discount at a local shopping centre, it’ll be no surprise that I’ll watch Your Name eventually. I just want the hype to blow over first, or else I’ll go in all judgemental…because I get judgemental when it comes to a lot of megahits, regardless of what medium they’re in.)
After watching Lost Voices, I read this Anime News Network post on Shinkai movies and I think I let that get to my opinion of them quite a bit…perusing the forums reveals people think Lost Voices is “Shinkai trying to do Ghibli” and that’s what I think, about a year out from watching it. Loss is no stranger to Ghibli – just look at Totoro‘s conflict – but I do think having watched a stack of Ghibli movies before any Shinkai ones makes me uber-biased that Totoro‘s childish whimsy beats out the melodrama of Lost Voices. Heck, one of my earliest memories of anime – it might have been after Pokemon, although I’m not sure exactly how early it really is – is of the flying machine from Laputa.
However, people think highly of 5 cm and, from the visuals, I get that. I recognised a bunch of images I’d downloaded off the ‘net to use as backgrounds (or seen other people using as backgrounds) in that one movie alone, but somehow most of the shots were from Cosmonaut and Cherry Blossom, since the title segment reuses footage from the other segments to tie itself together, which automatically meant the title segment had the hardest fall. Not to mention the short runtime – only about 1 hour, about half the length of Lost Voices – threw me because Lost Voices made me believe all Shinkai movies were the length of Ghibli ones.
Then again, romance is nowhere near my favourite genre of fiction (I had a period where I avoided any and all YA which used romance as a selling point), plus it was a piece that sold itself mostly/entirely on its atmosphere and emotional resonance to the audience, which probably affected how I saw it…For one, Kanae – as a tomboy who’s on the painful receiving end of unrequited love – was clearly meant to be someone I saw myself in, but I saw her as “pointless” and “tacked on” because the story was so focussed on Takaki and Akari, plus the themes that tied them together.
Either way, the fact I haven’t found a Shinkai work I really agree with is fine and I know I might not ever find one. I can live with it.
So what’s your opinion on Shinkai movies? Are they really masterpieces, or are you more like me?