Updated: Mar 15
Perhaps you’ve heard of the anime movie Your Name, but have you heard the name Makoto Shinkai? Shinkai is the writer and director behind the popular film.
A self-described animation director, Shinkai’s other professional titles include writer, producer, animator, editor, cinematographer, voice actor, manga artist, and graphic designer.
Born in 1973 in Nagano, Shinkai graduated from Chuo University in 1996 with a degree in Japanese Literature. After college he started working for the video game company Falcom (Japanese: 日本ファルコム株式会社, a.k.a. Nihon Falcom Corporation) where he created promotional material for games including short videos and web content.
Shinkai’s first notable contribution to animation was his release of a 5-minute work entitled She and Her Cat (Japanese: 彼女と彼女の猫). It won a number of awards, including the grand prize at the 12th DoGA CG Animation contest in 2000, and has more recently been adapted into a manga and anime series.
In 2001, Shinkai quit his job at Falcom to focus on animation. Over the next 7 years, his career expanded as he released increasingly lengthy animations. After a year off in London in 2008, he returned to Japan where he continues to work in animation to this day.
Shinkai’s most successful work to date is Your Name (Japanese: 君の名は), released in 2016. The movie is the third-highest-grossing anime film of all time, surpassed only by Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away and Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, based on the manga by Koyoharu Gotouge.
Your Name has received numerous awards and nominations, including winning Best Animated Feature at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, the 49th Sitges Film Festival, and the 71st Mainichi Film Awards. Interestingly, Shinkai is on record as being unsatisfied with the movie. He is quoted as follows in The Japan Times:
“There were things that we couldn’t do,” [Shinkai] says, explaining that his team of animators led by one of Miyazaki’s greatest disciples, Masashi Ando, wanted to keep working on it but with money running out he had to stop.
“For me it’s incomplete, unbalanced. The plot is fine but the film is not at all perfect. Two years was not enough.”
Despite the self-criticism, Your Name is a gorgeous film that has proven itself a worldwide success.
According to Shinkai’s IMDb profile, his work is characterized by “vivid and detailed scenic art direction” and “vibrant color palettes.” Shinkai’s stories have a delicate yet dramatic quality to them, tugging at viewers’ heartstrings with relationship-focused narratives paired with stunning visuals and soundtracks. We highly encourage exploring his filmography!
Connect with Shinkai Makoto:
Suzume (2022) - coming to American theaters in April 2023
Gibbons, Fiachra. “Please Don’t See My Animated Blockbuster, Says Japan’s ‘New Miyazaki,’ Makoto Shinkai.” JapanTimes.com. The Japan Times, December 27, 2016. Archived from the original on August 1, 2017.
“List of highest-grossing Japanese films.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, December 12, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highest-grossing_Japanese_films
“Makoto Shinkai Biography.” IMDb. IMDb.com. Accessed December 12, 2022. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1396121/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm.
“Makoto Shinkai.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, December 8, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makoto_Shinkai.
“Your Name.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, December 10, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Your_Name.