Makoto Shinkai is a highly successful Japanese animator with over 20 years of experience in the industry, often compared to legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. Our article ranks his filmography, which includes his blockbuster hit “Your Name”, the third highest-grossing Japanese film to date. We also delve into Shinkai’s latest masterpiece, “Suzume”, which is now showing in Hong Kong cinemas, and explore why it is a must-watch for anime fans.
Makoto Shinkai is a highly successful Japanese animator since the early 2000s. His films often feature young female protagonists with narratives about humanity’s relationship with nature, fantastical themes, and stunning visuals. “Your Name”, released in 2016, is his highest-grossing film, ranking third in Japanese box office history. Shinkai’s style has drawn comparisons to Hayao Miyazaki, and he predominantly focuses on the story of young lovers separated by space, time, or the elements. His films depict lonely characters yearning for a passionate reunion that is often left unfulfilled.
Shinkai’s aesthetic revolves around the sky, with stunning depictions of clouds, sunlight, stars, and even destruction. His latest film, “Suzume”, marks the final chapter of his loose disaster trilogy, following “Your Name” and “Weathering With You”. It premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and is now showing in Hong Kong cinemas. In this article, we rank Shinkai’s films from worst to best, taking a look back at his impressive body of work.
Here is the List of Makoto Shinkai’s Movies, from ‘Your Name’ to the ‘Suzume ‘
8. Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011)
“Children Who Chase Lost Voices” is a 2011 anime film directed by Makoto Shinkai. The movie tells the story of Asuna, a young girl who discovers a mysterious connection to a fantastical underground world. Asuna embarks on a dangerous journey to uncover the secrets of this otherworldly realm and protect it from those who seek to exploit it.
The film features Shinkai’s signature stunning visuals, particularly in its depiction of the mystical underworld. The soundtrack, composed by Tenmon, adds to the film’s emotional depth and impact.
While “Children Who Chase Lost Voices” may not be as well-known as some of Shinkai’s other works, it is still a beautiful and compelling film that explores themes of loss, love, and discovery.
7. The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004)
Makoto Shinkai wrote, directed, and produced the 2004 anime film “The Place Promised in Our Early Days.”
The story follows three teenagers who dream of flying a plane to a mysterious tower in the north. The tower holds the promise of fulfilling their deepest wishes and reuniting them with a childhood friend who moved away.
The film explores themes of friendship, sacrifice, and the consequences of pursuing one’s dreams. Shinkai’s use of color and lighting creates a dreamlike atmosphere that beautifully captures the nostalgic and romantic tone of the story.
“The Place Promised in Our Early Days” marked the beginning of Shinkai’s career as a renowned anime filmmaker, receiving critical acclaim for its captivating visuals and poignant storytelling, despite its initial limited release.
6. Weathering With You (2019)
Weathering With You is Makoto Shinkai’s sixth feature film, released in 2019. The film follows the story of Hodaka, a high school student who runs away from his island home to Tokyo. Where he meets a young girl named Hina. Hina has the power to control the weather, and together with Hodaka. They start a business to help people in need. However, their actions have unintended consequences, and they soon find themselves in the middle of a natural disaster.
The film is notable for its stunning animation. Which captures the bustling streets of Tokyo and the ethereal beauty of the sky. The weather plays a significant role in the film, with Shinkai using it as a metaphor for the emotions and struggles of the characters.
The film also explores themes of sacrifice, love, and the impact of human actions on the environment. As with many of Shinkai’s films, Weathering With You features a bittersweet ending that leaves a lasting impact on the viewer.
5. 5 Centimetres per Second (2007)
This hour-long film explores themes of distance, separation, and unrequited love through three romantic encounters in a young man’s life. Unlike Shinkai’s other works, it is grounded in a completely realistic setting, without any fantastical or science-fiction elements.
The film’s first and longest segment follows Takaki as he struggles to reach his girlfriend. Akari on a wintry evening before she moves away. The void she leaves in his heart continues to haunt him for years until a chance meeting provides some relief.
4. Suzume (2022)
In Shinkai’s latest film, the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake serves as the setting. The story revolves around our protagonist ‘Suzume‘. Who stumbles upon a door in the ruins of an old resort with the help of a mysterious young man. However, opening the door triggers a destructive elemental force that poses a threat to the entire country.
Thus, Suzume embarks on a cross-country adventure to find the keystone that can close the door and contain the danger. Once again, Shinkai blends magical elements with real-world issues in a captivating way, highlighting his recurring concerns with the traumatic and the inspiring.
3. Voices of a Distant Star (2002)
Although technically a short film. Shinkai’s early hand-drawn work displays a remarkable ambition and fascination for many of the themes that would come to define his career making it essential to include it here. The story follows schoolgirl Mikako, who is recruited to fight in an intergalactic war in 2047.
She sends emails to her classmate Noboru on Earth from the cockpit of her mech robot. But as her mission takes her further into deep space, the messages take longer and longer to reach him. Mikako’s isolation is magnified by the fact that she remains a teenager while her love grows into adulthood and tries to live his life. The result is one of the most heartbreaking portrayals of time dilation on screen.
2. The Garden of Words (2013)
Shinkai’s adoption of computer-generated animation in “The Garden of Words” marks a style shift, allowing him to create a photorealistic look for the backgrounds. The film also uses handheld camera movements, adding realism that his earlier work lacked.
The story follows the relationship between Takao and Yukari, two strangers who meet in the same park on rainy days. Their age difference keeps them apart, but the film’s daring and mature exploration of themes offers a glimpse into a filmmaker challenging himself to create something more profound.
1. Your Name (2016)
All of Shinkai’s predilections and powers converge in this monumental work, which remains the director’s crowning achievement to this day.
When country girl Mitsuha discovers that she is body-swapping with city boy Taki, who lives three years into her future. It sets in motion a mind-boggling, high-concept romantic comedy infused with parallel timelines and traditional folklore. And the looming shadow of impending apocalyptic disaster.
From its dazzling visuals to its chart-topping soundtrack from Radwimps and its relentlessly innovative storytelling. Your Name is the perfect confluence of everything Shinkai has been striving to articulate on screen, realized with greater clarity and catharsis than ever before.
In conclusion, Makoto Shinkai is a critically and commercially successful animator in Japan, known for his visually stunning and emotionally poignant films that explore themes of distance, separation, love, and humanity’s relationship with the natural world. His films often feature young protagonists and blend elements of the magical with the mundane to create a unique cinematic experience. Shinkai’s 10 films, ranging from his early hand-drawn short film “Voices of a Distant Star” to his latest computer-generated animation “Suzume” have cemented his place as one of Japan’s greatest anime directors. While each film has its own strengths and weaknesses, they all showcase Shinkai’s impressive storytelling ability and artistic vision.