Makoto Shinkai got famous for his movies and short films that were just completely unique and unlike anything else in anime. I always found it really hard to judge these movies, but there is one thing that I want to praise all of them for: their sense of distance.Even after watching so many anime, I never encountered any other anime that portrayed that so well and indescribably.
Now even though I’m saying this: Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo is completely different from his previous work. Apart from She and Her Cat they were all simple romances. This is an adventure movie. In fact, Makoto Shinkai watched a lot of Ghibli movies inbetween directing this one and 5cm/Second, and this really can be viewed as his portrayal of a ghibli movie. With that, I’m not saying that it’s a Ghibli-rip off, by the way. This movie definitely takes the
classic Ghibli style into a different direction compared to Miyazaki’s change over the past 10 years. Clocking in at two hours, this is a slow-paced adventure movie about a random schoolgirl and teacher of her. It makes use of its slow pacing by animating the two characters very life-like. The acting is very realistic without any weaknesses or bad lines. The world it takes place in is very creative and full of ideas, and feels very believable for a fantasy world. A lot of work went into making the characters easy to relate to here, and Makoto Shinkai really succeeded in this.
This movie definitely is more accessible than Makoto Shinkai’s previous movies. That does have its downsides, though. The sense of distance that I mentioned above: this movie has it too, but while the previous movies gave unique interpretations to this theme, in this movie it simply turns into “death”, which has a bit less substance and has been done before many times. And unfortunately, better. Overall the biggest flaw of this movie that it seems to lack a bit of substance here and there. Its messages are simple, the characters are simple, and the setting, instead of going in-depth on one of its ideas instead remains on the surface with a bunch of ideas inspired by random ancient cultures, ranging from Middle America to ancient south-west Asia. It’s pretty much a family movie… for a bit of an older audience than usual, perhaps. This does have gore, so if your son or daughter can’t stand blood then you might want to give this movie a pass.
What stands out the most here are the visuals. Oh my god, these are gorgeous. This movie is two hours long and absolutely chock full of all sorts of visual ideas. I mean, like I said: Makoto Shinkai is inspired by Ghibli this time, but it still is undoubtedly a Makoto Shinkai movie. The artistic direction is a brilliant blend of the two styles and while the budget of this movie may not be as big as your average Ghibli movie, the animation is still very life-like, some frames are incredibly fluid, and the background art is just absolutely fantastic. Here, he actually surpassed Ghibli with its sheer versatility.
And really, this isn’t one of those movies that are all style and no substance. It still stands out as a very solid and enjoyable movie, but I do feel that Makoto Shinkai could have gone more in depth to his material.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – Believable storytelling, slow but very good pacing and kept my attention through the whole movie.|
|Characters:||8/10 – Realistic characters, albeit a bit one-sided.|
|Production-Values:||9/10 – Amazing background art.|
|Setting:||8/10 – Imaginative, though not very deep.|