Shinkai’s films are always an experience for me. While I haven’t seen all of his works, the ones that I have seen have completely changed the way I view anime films in general, but I suppose my perspective on anime films is a bit different than what would normally be expected from an anime fan.
It’s no secret (or if it was, it’s not anymore) that my experience with anime in general doesn’t extend far beyond the reach of prior 2010 works as I began watching anime in early 2012. It was a sort of time when Shinkai films were already well-known because of 5 Centimeters per Second and others being released around that time, but I had never gotten into any of his films until later in my anime “career” (around the end of 2014).
Lately I’ve been binge-watching anime films as I still haven’t seen several influential films that I probably should have by now, especially with 200+ anime series now under my belt. Specifically, I’ve started catching up on Ghibli movies, as they’re the ones I’m lacking from my anime background the most. I’m already a huge fan of Makoto Shinkai and seeing how popular Your Name. is in sales, even surpassing some classic Ghibli films, I wanted to find out why Ghibli has always been popular among Western fans while directors like Shinkai are only finally breaking into the market. While Your Name. is most likely an excellent film (please no spoilers), it’s very tonally Shinkai in both art style and narrative, yet it’s gotten so much more hype than his other works. If it is so stylistically Shinkai, then why is it that very few works of his, minus arguably Five Centimeters Per Second, are not even mentioned by most well-versed anime fans, yet almost every Ghibli film is known even to those who just dabble in Japanese animated films?