In 2014, the legendary animation house Studio Ghibli announced it was taking a hiatus, following the retirement of it’s co-founder, the genius director Hayao Miyazaki. Now anime fans are searching for someone to fill that void, and to deliver beautiful, transcendent animated movies that appeal to audiences of all ages and show that Japanese cartoons are more than just giant robots and scantily clad schoolgirls.
And one name that people are suggesting is Makoto Shinkai. Starting out in videogames, for the last decade or so Shinkai has been producing wonderful, heart-touching films like 5 Centimeters Per Second and Children Who Chase Lost Voices, which tell the tales of relatable relationships and emotions stretched across time and space, and have won him fans across the world. His latest film however, has become a phenomenon in Japan. Your Name is the story of two Japanese teenagers, Taki, who lives in central Tokyo, and Mitsuha, a young girl from the country, whose lives become intertwined when a magical comet causes them to switch bodies at random. It’s an incredible sweet, sad piece of drama, which mixes fantasy themes with realistic teenage heartbreak.
Since its release in its home country in August,Your Name has made over 10bn yen (£76m), and has been at the top of the Japanese box office for seven weeks and counting. It also already has a devoted teenage fanbase, with fans even making pilgrimages to locations featured in the film. And thanks to this success, Your Name is the rare Japanese animation to get a full UK cinema release next month, as well as being the first anime to have been in the official competition at the London Film Festival. Makoto Shinkai was in London for the festival, and we caught up with him to talk about the film’s success, the importance of backgrounds, and playing down those Miyazaki comparisons.