Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Art of Animation



When a piece of art, a movie, or a composition connects with you, there’s that electric moment of first contact. It is at the moment when you catch a glimpse of a film or hear the first notes of an artistic work and for a brief moment you feel pure bliss. The sensation is unfiltered and genuine. For that fraction of a second, you’re unjaded and become a kid again.

I had that electric moment when I watched the trailer to Makoto Shinkai’s latest project, 5 Centimeters Per Second. Click here to watch the trailer on youtube. Higher quality versions of the trailer can be found on the official website.


The trailer explains little, but as is common in Japanese dramatic works, it offers glimpses of ideas, emotions and quotes that connect with the story. The quotes which appeared in the trailer are translated below.

"Do you Know?"
"The Speed at Which Cherry Blossoms Fall…"
"5 centimeters per second."
"At What Speed Must I live…"
"…to be able to see you again."

The director’s notes translated courtesy of Daike at Makoto Shinkai Fan Web is edited for length and the English is polished.

"Byousoku 5 Centimeters (Speed of 5 Centimeters per Second)" is a serial short consisting of 3 independent works. The story at its core is about a boy set in Japan from the first half of the 1990s to the present day.

Sci-Fi or fantasy elements do not appear in this work. Our daily life rarely includes dramas, dramatic treachery or sudden revelations. Nevertheless, the world is filled with flavor and beauty and it is worth living.

We try to depict such an aspect of real life through this film...

-Makoto Shinkai


I am a big fan of Makoto Shinkai’s work and I have watched his first two commercial works, the short film, Voices of a Distant Star (reviewed here on my movie blog) and his feature film Beyond The Clouds also known as The Promised Place in our Early Days.

Shinkai came to prominence in the Japanese animation community in 1999 as an independent filmmaker. His first short She and Her Cat, youtube linked below, was a one-man project which he completed during his spare time off work at a major video game company. The short went on to win many animation awards in Japan and attracted the attention of a Japanese animation company CoMix Wave, the entity currently funding all of his projects.

What makes Shinkai’s films so watchable and endearing is the warmth of his subjects. They are young people with good intentions trying to live life the best they can in an often chaotic world. A common theme in his work is War and its impact on the young protagonists. His stories impart a nostalgic sense of yearning for a simpler time. They try to capture the purity and the good things found in the human experience. She and Her Cat explored the life of a cat and his owner, a young woman, through the eyes of her pet cat in the span of a year. Voices of a Distant Star dealt with a very simple high school love story while The Promised Place in our Early Days delved into the subject of 3 friends, a childhood promise made between them, and the aftermath of their lives when they go their separate ways.

Makoto Shinkai's [She and Her Cat] -Short-

1 comment:

The Ronald said...

The first time I saw GI Joe, I was captivated by the sweaty dudes running around saving people.

But yeah, when I was growing up, Saturday mornings were my time to escape. I would always wake up earlier than anyone else (as early as 6am), plunk myself in front of the TV and just watch my favourite cartoons. It was a tradition for me that spanned a number of years until I found myself too old for it. I biologically grew out of that phase and much to my dismay, I psychologically grew out of that phase. I didn't want to nor did I think I ever would but I did. Sad thing is, I can't enjoy the cartoons I did when I was a kid But atleast I'll always have my childhood memories of them.