Looking for something to watch is weekend? Well, here's something worth considering ...
Asian media streaming site Crunchyroll is offering Makoto Shinkai's animated works 5 Centimeters Per Second, Place Promised In Our Early Days and Voices Of A Distant Star to worldwide audiences, except Japan, March 11-13. The anime can be accessed from Crunchyroll.com, tv.com, the free iPad and iPhone application, Android, and the Boxee application.
With his artistically beautiful backdrops and stories of separation, Shinkai is one of the animators being called a "next Hayao Miyazaki." I personally find the "next Miyazaki" label to be bothersomely reductive, but, it's some hint of the regard that some have for Shinkai.
Shinkai made his mark with 2002's sci-fi informed relationship story Voices of a Distant Star. The anime followed a decidedly normal relationship between a teen boy and girl, bent by the girl serving in the anime-typical role of piloting a robot against alien adversaries. The two keep in touch through texts, but the time between messages from her grows more protracted as she travels into space at relativistic speeds. It was a nice, effecting story, told over the course of 25 minutes, taken as a real artistic statement due to the story of its production; Voices was originally written, directed and produced by Shinkai on his Power Mac G4, with characters voiced by Shinkai with his wife.
While fans of anime have boasted about the medium's artistic freedom, financial considerations have always been among its constricting factors. Even in the boom years, anime production, especially for Japanese TV, was still subject to the template that Osamu Tezuka laid out in his Fuji TV/Astro Boy deal, in which it's been said that Tezuka underbid in order to inhibit competition. That yielded the production optimization/work arounds/short cuts for which anime became known, and, it yielded a reliance on sponsors.
Shinkai circumvented the restrictions of large production teams, using the then new technical resources that enabled a dedicated artist working by themselves.
Pointing to the work of experimental or independent animators castsShinkai's story in a less exceptional light. However, what caught anime watchers' eyes and imaginations was that Shinkai was creating something that was not too far removed from mainstream anime (Gunbuster, an early work by Evangelion's Studio Gainax comes to mind as a time dilation driven anime classic), alone, stamped with his own vision.
Not finding his work entirely transcendent, I don't share the full extent of Shinkai adoration possessed by some other anime fans. I wish he'd push further away from ground that anime has already covered and from ground that's he's already covered. Still, given that it looks breathtaking and it that tries to and often succeeds in tapping genuine sentiment, I would recommend that everyone see all of his works.
From Crunchyroll's description of the anime.
5 CENTIMETERS PER SECOND begins with the lyrical image of cherry blossoms falling at five centimeters a second, painting a breathtaking vivid tableau of young love, desire, loss, and hope. Told in three heartbreaking chapters, we follow the young dreamer Takaki through his life as cruel winters, cold technology, silence, and, finally, adult obligations and responsibility converge to crush the delicate petals of true love.
VOICES OF A DISTANT STAR follows Mikako who joins the interstellar battle as a pilot leaving behind her love Noboru, only maintaining her connection to him through text messages sent from her mobile phone. And while she barely grows older in the timelessness of space Noboru ages creating this scenario with two lovers, worlds apart, desperately strive to remain connected as the gap between them widens at a frightening pace.
PLACE PROMISED IN OUR EARLY DAYS traces two friends and two passions: the plane they built together, christened Bela Cielo, and a girl: Sayuri. Oblivious to environment around them, the three create an indelible bond and nothing can ever come between them. However as time passes, war escalates, friends become enemies, and alliances change, Sayuri becomes the key to a new world peace...or a frightening and bitter end to life as we know it.
Not on Crunchyroll, but of note to Shinkai fans, a new trailer for his upcoming Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below
The New York Int'l Children's Film Festival has added a new screening of Welcome To The Spaceshow Sunday March 13, 10:30am at the IFC Center.
With an intergalactic cast of thousands, Kojo Masunari’s colorfully explosive debut feature sets a new high for visual spectacle and sheer inventiveness of character design – in what has to be one of the most gleefully surreal depictions of alien life forms ever portrayed in cinema.
It seems like just another lazy summer is in store for Amane and her older cousin Natsuki. Lolling about the Japanese countryside, the days are blithe and boundless. But boredom quickly vanishes when they find an injured dog in the woods and bring him back to the cabin – only to discover that he is not a dog at all, but Pochi, an alien botanist sent to Earth to track down a rare and powerful plant called Zughaan (better known to Earthlings as wasabi root). Before long, Pochi has whisked the kids away to a space colony on the dark side of the moon, an interstellar melting pot where we experience a non-stop parade of humorous alien creatures, jellyfish spaceships, dragon trains, and – if that weren’t enough – a theme song from UK pop anomaly Susan Boyle. (Really? Yes, really.) The plot twists come fast and furious, and with such a glorious barrage of color and invention washing across the screen, you just want to hit pause and gawk at the wonder of what you are seeing.
Aniplex's preview of the movie
New York's Japan Society will be presenting Yakuza in Popular Media & Real Life: Yakuza in Popular Media & Real Life: Cracks & Chasms with a lecture by Tokyo Vice author Jake Adelstein and a screening of Onibi: The Fire Within Thursday, March 10, 6:30 PM