Tag Archives: Makoto Shinkai

Anime and the Environment

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You ever just think about how are existence on this planet is becoming increasingly fragile and that human activity is largely contributing to our own demise? Yeah, me too. The amount of immediate world issues that are important tend to overshadow environmental policy, even during a time when these issues are too crucial to ignore. Luckily, the lineage of great anime directors seem to understand their importance. In my column for this week, I touch on Anime’s environmental messages. Enjoy!


If the quarantine regarding COVID-19 has revealed anything, it is that human impact on the environment is still at an all-time high. The empty roads, the parks littered with trash and gas stations are all a reminder that humans have, for the better but mostly for the worse, altered the planet to suit our needs, causing pollution and the rise of man-made climate change. 

While its oftentimes quirky and abundantly random nature may make it an odd choice for messages about the environment, directors like Hayao Miyazaki and Makoto Shinkai have already used anime as a way to warn people about the importance of environmental awareness.

Miyazaki’s work on this topic goes back to his earliest films working as a director. In “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” Nausicaa attempts to learn the secrets of an ancient forest that has been attempting to communicate with her. However, she has to do so before the kingdom of Tolmekia succeeds in wiping it out for good. The film subtly represents the idea that humans are not above nature, but rather a part of it.

A similar concept appears in Ghibli and Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke,” where a young prince named Ashitaka must find a cure for a disease given to him by a demon. After journeying to a place called Irontown, he finds out that the mining and crafting of iron products have polluted the nearby area and made the spirits of the surrounding forest angry. Again the film shows a conflict between humans who wish to alter the environment for selfish gain and nature itself. 

Rising star and director of the 2016 hit film “Your Name” has also contributed to environmental consciousness. His latest film “Weathering with You” features a story about a girl named Hina who gains the power to control the weather. However, after using her powers in order to make money, she is forced to join the sky with the weather spirits, although not before being rescued by Hodoka, a boy who recently moved to Tokyo. 

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As a result of not paying the price for her powers, Tokyo becomes cursed with constant rain, leaving much of the city underwater. These depictions of a new dystopian world reflect the director’s concern for climate change, not just as a threat to nature but as a threat to human existence. 

However, these depictions of human impact on the environment in anime are not surprising given the cultural context of Japan. Ever since Japan’s emergence as a world leader on environmental policy in the late 1980s, its government has continued to emphasize reducing citizen impact on the environment.

Much of this has been done by introducing recycling in major metropolitan areas, such as Tokyo, as well as across the country. Japan has also asked private businesses to consider the environmental impact of their day-to-day operations. They have even gone as far as to introduce a number of voluntary programs and campaigns encouraging citizens to participate.

While it is true that younger people are increasingly skeptical of the government’s efforts, many in Japan are of the opinion that environmental regulations should be stronger, not weaker. 

It seems common knowledge at this point, but the media people consume can affect their positions on political issues. Even though environmental issues can seem far removed from people’s everyday lives, they are an ever-looming presence that is inescapable. Both Miyazaki’s and Shinkai’s films are not only great entertainment but emphasize one of the defining issues of this generation.   


How do you all feel about these issues? Are you fans of Ghibli and Shinkai? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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“Belle” and Mamoru Hosoda

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It was announced recently that Mamoru Hosoda would be premiering his next film in Japanese theaters come 2021. As this article from Variety explains, “Paris-based sales company Charades is set to reteam with Japanese auteur Mamoru Hosoda on his next directorial outing, ‘Belle.'” The article also explains that the movie will follow a female lead and interaction within the virtual world of “U.” (Note: The Japanese title is “Ryu to Sobakasu no Hime,” which in English would be “The Dragon and the Freckled Princess.”

While this will probably already be old news by the time this post comes out, I want to take today just to celebrate this new film and Mamoru Hosoda.

Now, while he never started there, Mamoru Hosoda has slowly become one of my favorite directors of all time. His works like “The Girl Who Lept Through Time,” “Mirai,” “The Boy and the Beast,” and “Summer Wars” have slowly become some of my most cherished first time viewing experiences. On top of that, all of these films have a the sort of timeless feel that radiates from a lot of Hayao Miyazaki’s and Ghibli’s work.

After the release of his latest smash hit “Weathering with You,” There was a point in which people were starting to wonder whether which of Makoto Shinkai or Mamoru Hosoda would be considered Miyazaki’s successor. While it is certainly a fun conversation to have, ultimately I do not think it does any good to pit to great directors against each other. Still, if I had to pick one…it would probably be Hosoda.

While Shinkai does a great job at capturing feelings of youth and romance, it is rare that his films are ever grounded in any kind of substance. In fact, “Weathering With You” was probably the closest he has come so far, and even then the themes about Climate Change and the need to act are kind of secondary.

Hosoda and Miyazaki, meanwhile, do a lot to work substance into their films at nearly every turn. Miyazaki is a lot more concerned with the environment and the need to protect it, while Hosoda tends to focus on the idea of how we interact online and the need for family. For a good example of how he deals with both these themes at the same time, I would highly recommend watching his 2010 film “Summer Wars.”

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“Summer Wars” actually has a pretty similar storyline to “Belle,” at least from what is known so far, with the only major difference being the gender of the main character, though knowing Hosoda, this will probably matter quite a bit.

The internet, while having been around now for around a generation, is still a complex web of interwoven communities existing both separately and often within the same spaces. Looking at nearly any popular social media site will give a good example of this. Even here on my own website, while I am usually the only person who writes on it, there are still people like you who are reading, commenting, interacting, sharing, etc.

All of this rambling aside, Mamoru Hosoda has come a long way since his days directing “Digimon: The Movie,” and while it is clearly to early to say anything definitively, his next film will likely end up being a powerful statement about the nature of communication online, and I for one am extremely excited.


How do you feel about Mamoru Hosoda? Do you think he is a better director than Shinkai? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

Final Thoughts: Weathering With You

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In the three years after the worldwide success that was “Your Name,” director Makoto Shinkai spent his time hard at work on yet another film, or at least that is what he said in an interview shown after “Weathering with You’s” premiere in U.S. theaters this week.

“Weathing With You” tells the story of Hodoka, a high school boy who runs away to the city of Tokyo, only to find out it is a little more than he bargained for. After finding a stable place to live Hodaka meets Hina, a girl who has the power to control the weather. Soon, the two decide to start a business, only for things to go horribly wrong.

The film certainly has a lot of interesting things about it, and so here are my final thoughts.

Weathering With You as a Message About Climate Change

Another thing Shinkai mentioned in the interview is that stuck out to me was that part of what inspired him to writer the film was the ever-looming threat that is Climate Change. Initially, I thoughts this was kind of posturing, and was something he only said to make the movie feel deeper than it really is.

However, the more I thought about it the more it maid sense. After all, the story focuses on a coporation (Hina and Hodaka) using the earth for profit at the expense of those around them (The people living in Tokyo), and Hina is almost made to pay for it. I suppose its fair to say, though, that this interpretation is a little mean, and that the message is much more general.

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The Guest Cameos

If you were not paying attention much at all while watching the movie, it would be pretty easy to miss the fact that the two main characters of “Your Name,” Mitsuha and Taki. While it is not super weird to see the two in the new movie, given that they are set in the same place at roughly the same time, it still kind of messes with my head a bit. Speaking of “Your Name,” though…

The Legacy of Makoto Shinkai

“Your Name” was an incredibly successful movie in every sense of the word. Not only did it become one of the highest selling Japanese films of all time, it also has had a cultural impact far beyond just the borders of Japan. It is certainly an epic tail that will be remembered well past 2016.

However despite the experience that “Your Name” was, I find myself gravitating much more towards “Weathering with You.”

Shinkai’s newest film actually feels like a departure in a lot of ways from his previous films. While movies like “Your Name” and “5 Centimeters Per Second” focused largely on the experience of the film, i.e. the overall atmosphere and feeling, “Weathering With You” feels a lot more grounded in its characters, which makes them feel a lot more human and not just random actors in a modern TV commercial.

Conclusion

Despite not feeling that great when going to watch it, “Weathering with You” managed to bring me on the emotional roller-coaster that only Shinkai films can, while also briging fresh ideas and interesting story lines as well. While maybe as ambitious as previous Shinkai films, the feelings it brings are real just the same.


How do you all feel about Weathering With You? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

This Week in Anime: 11-16-17

Welcome, everyone once again to This Week in Anime, the series where I highlight some of the more important stories to come out relating to anime in the past week. This week was certainly a lot less busy, but the stories that did break were well worth taking a look at. Without further ado, here are this week’s stories.

A Damning Indictment of the Idol Industry

Love Live
Source: Love Live Wiki

An article published in Goboiano last Sunday, writer Simonzi documented some dark truths behind the idol industry at large. In it, they talk about the beginning of the industry and how it quickly turned from a nationwide talent search to a borderline sex ring, with middle age pimps often posing as promoters. It gets worse when she explains that often times the lives of Idols are controlled by these promoters and that moving up in rank in idol group might mean sleeping with powerful people, even when some of these idols are as young as twelve. You can read the full article here.

Ichita Yamamoto Apologizes for his Comments Around Recent Murders

Ichita-Yamamoto
Source: Goboiano.com

Takahiro Shiraishi was recently arrested after it was discovered that he had been luring suicidal people into his apartment and killing and molesting them, after which he would chop up their body so they would be easier to contain and hide from neighbors. This news was deeply disturbing to many, but one politician was quick to exclaim there was a simple reason for his behavior. Ichita Yamamoto last week was quick to blame anime and video games as the reason for Shiraishi’s killing spree, saying that they corrode the distinction between real life and fantasy.

This week, Yamamoto walked back his statements after much public backlash, including many pointing out that it was an odd comment coming from him, considering he was a member of the Cool Japan Committee, a program meant to help people move to Japan while pursuing careers in things like anime and manga. Yamamoto has since apologized saying “To all the people involved with and who love anime, I am truly sorry! I will take proper care never to make such baseless comments again.”

Makoto Shinkai is Not Interested in the Your Name Live Action Film

shinkai1
Source: Awardscircuit.com

Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name has become one of the most successful anime films of all time, surpassing the expectations of many, including Shinkai himself. Shinkai had said that he was “…excited with anticipation” for J.J. Abrams live-action adaptation of his Smash hit film. Recently, however, Shinkai sent a much different message. He was at an exhibition celebrating his career where he said: “I often think of the anime I’ve created as my children, but I’m not really that interested in what happens to those children afterward.” This came off as an odd response from someone who is known for his passion for every project he does. Ultimately, he compared his work to his children and said that “The Hollywood version was announced, and though I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out, at the same time, it’s like my son setting off on his personal journey. What kind of adult he grows into is something for him to deal with himself.”


How do some of these stories make you feel? What is your take on them? Let me know down in the comments. Bye for now, Friendos!