Shinkai is losing his magic.

As we wait for any news on his upcoming movie in the end of 2015, I revisit once again 5cm/s and grumble about his storyline choices.

Makoto Shinkai is my favorite director from the current industry: known fact.
5cm/s is one of my favorite stories ever: known fact.
If I were on a romantic relationship with this guy, this is the time I’d ask for him to take a seat over there and have a serious talk.

He had something that made me fall in love with …HIS WORK, and I believe he’s somehow losing it after his two recent premiers.
I’ve followed his career ever since he started with indie production “Kakomareta Sekai”, so I’m sure there are others who feel the same way.

His magic is within the drama realm.
And his wand/grimoire/staff is no other than the script.

It is the way he manages to load the story with so much emotional weight that makes they shine.
Honestly, emotionally damaging stories aren’t that rare in this medium. We got Clannad, Ef, Wolf’s Rain and even Suzuka.
However, none of them are so subtle on it, so -on the lack of a better word- sneaky on it like his works.
He builds the script like a common slice-of-life, slowly and carefully, but very silently sets some landmines along the way, that when you’re making the path back, gathering all the pieces of the story together, you step on those accidentally, unprepared and they hit you hard.
No tearjerker trap, no forced violin OST, no sudden character death, no unexpected illness, no DEADLY Japanese Flu, just the combination of unfortunate life factors that miserably lead to the event.
When you notice, the sweet little romance you were following is shattered to pieces by… Life itself.

Here is the tripping point.

His works used to be like this, and I loved it.
No needless violence, no antagonist, and the inevitability of life as the bad guy.
Some social criticism, but low. A lot of symbolism and existentialism.

Then Hoshi wo ou Kodomo premiered.
I was speechless.
The overall quality is still top tier, but… What is the meaning of the script?
Patterned Ghibli-Approved family afternoon movie time!
Cliché fantasy, no romance, unreal relationships, no symbolism besides the average repetitive stuff, and no emotional load. Nothing.
You could watch iM@AS and get a stronger drama than this one.

That was “fine”.
Perhaps people were calling him so much “the next Miyazaki” that he decided to try something like that, but surely, his next work would come back to his roots.
Or so we thought.

Kotonoha no Niwa, (aka: foot-fetish paradise, aka: rain porn, aka: lewd teacher)
Top quality animation, as always, partially developed characters, average romance…
Forced drama, tear-jerking ending.
No message, no symbolism.
I was glad he returned to romance, but this was so dull and meaningless that bored me.
Don’t tell me that “real romance” is meaningless because I’ve seen a hell lot of romance -as it’s my favorite genre- and this was just dumb.
Boy meets girl -> dialogue -> oh my life sucks -> tearjerker -> the end.
Where’s the slow painful development of 5cm/s? The struggle from Beyond the Clouds? The angst from Hoshi no Koe? The reflection from She and Her Cat?
Did he thought using a taboo relationship was enough to play some heartstrings? A relationship with no feeling, no depth, except a shared taste in Japanese literature?
Hell, even Dareka no Manazashi was more sweet and touching than this. That whole parent/daughter development was beautiful on that commercial.
The endings isn’t even worth mentioning. Acoustic ED + characters crying? Talk about a cardboard technique.
What happened to the classy and powerful ending sequence of 5cm/s? Did he forgot how to do it?
I shed more tears with 5cm/s’ ending than those two during that scene.
-don’t even trigger me on the epilogue! Since when he does cheesy epilogues?-
Jesus tap dancing Christ.

“Are you not entertained? Is this not why you’re here?”
Is surprisingly a ‘meme’ that fits here.
If I wanted that QUALITY of romance, I’d watch some 13eps rom-coms like Seto no Hanayome (which is great, btw).

[…]

Yea… This was a analysis-disguised rant that I had to post. It’s been bothering me for a while and I found it nice to share just to see how many others think the same.
So here I hope that his next movie is the masterpiece I’ve been hyping for the past two releases, otherwise, as I finally finishes reading Gunslinger Girl manga, his spot as best romantic drama writer is really endangered.

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2 comments

    1. Ah, I had quite a bit of trouble finding that one myself.
      Sadly this shitty Windows 10 update nuked my HDD and I lost a bunch of stored anime, so I’m afraid I can’t be of much help. *sorry*
      Still, you might wanna try asking around on animesuki or google’ing some russian trackers/players, somehow it seems they’re quite found of Shinkai work.

      Like

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