Tag: Makoto Shinkai

Makoto Shinkai – A Bibliography of English-language Scholarly Writing

The start of the year’s movie awards season is always a good opportunity to reflect back on what the year has offered to audiences in terms of anime – and what anime continues to offer to viewers. This year, understandably, much of the attention that was directed towards new Japanese animated feature films went to Hayao Miyazaki’s 君たちはどう生きるか / How Do You Live / The Boy and the Heron. But that it was neither the only anime feature film released this year, nor the only one that is receiving recognition now that the awards season has launched. And, perhaps, if The Boy and the Heron represents Japanese animation looking back, the other prominent film that opened this year worldwide – Makoto Shinkai’s すずめの戸締まり / Suzume is inevitably both the present – and the future – of Japanese animation.

And for that matter, in the same way that The Boy and the Heron is the capstone film for Hayao Miyazaki’s career as a director and creator, Suzume, globally successful and critically acclaimed, eligible for the 2024 Academy Awards, and already nominated for the Golden Globes, is a great summation of the work that Shinkai has done up to now, from his first days as a video game artist, through his earliest solo projects, and through more and more sophisticated and elaborate films. So far, Suzume has gathered significant critical attention, though no scholarly responses yet, but watching this film and thinking about it is also a great time to reflect on how scholars are now approaching Makoto Shinkai – because scholars certainly are!

Total: 20 publications (15 journal articles, 5 chapters in edited essay collections)

2023

Izumi, Katsuya. Saviours of the world: Impersonality and success in Shinkai Makoto’s animated films.
In Shih-Wen Sue Chen & Sin Wen Lau (eds.). Representations of children and success in Asia: Dream chasers (pp. 202-211). Abington, UK. Routledge.

  • “This chapter analyzes how Shinkai Makoto, a Japanese animation film director, has built a new image of the teenage hero who reflects shifts in cultural values during the Heisei period (1989–2019). Focusing on the teenagers, Mitsuha and Taki, in Your Name. (2016), this chapter argues that impersonality, rather than strong individualism, enables Shinkai’s characters to become heroes in the sekai-kei genre. Shintoism and classical Japanese language constitute the key elements in Shinkai’s concept of impersonality, or the state of an individual character in which they empty themselves to become a medium for others’ agencies and voices.”
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Director Bibliography: Makoto Shinkai

The names of Hayao Miyazaki, Mamoru Oshii, and Satoshi Kon are familiar to pretty much anyone who has an interest in Japanese animation. And it is no surprise that these are the three directors who have also received extensive attention in the English-language scholarly writing on anime. But, as was widely reported and discussed last year, Miyazaki has now effectively retired from working as a feature film director. Oshii’s last anime film was 2008’s Sky Crawlers – he has since been working primarily on live-action projects. Kon passed away in 2010.

The question of who will be the next truly major anime director has been raised time and time again in discussions about the current state of Japanese animation, and anime’s prospects for the future. Some names that have come up include Hideaki Anno, Kunihiko Ikuhara, and Mamoru Hosoda – but none of them have received the same kind of acclaim or attention as did Miyazaki, Oshii, or Kon. Granted, there were definitely quite a few responses in the literature on anime to Anno and Neon Genesis Evangelion, but, important – transformative – as that series was, it was also very much a product of a particular point in time, and he has not been able to follow it up with anything else that would be as prominent. (more…)

New Issue – Science Fiction Film and Television

sff.7.3_frontAnime, as anime scholars will never tire of repeating, is not a genre, it is a “form” or “mode” of animation, and anime films and television series can include a wide variety of genres. At the same time, it is also true that anime’s stereotypical genre is science fiction. The two films that first really got anime noticed outside Japan, Akira and Ghost in the Shell – are the epitome of science fiction cinema. And so, one of the most common approaches to anime that scholars take it to focus on anime as science fiction.

For example, the only anime director (in fact, the only animator) profiled in Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction (“a collection of engaging essays on some of the most significant figures who have shaped and defined the genre”, Routledge, 2009) is Ghost in the Shell‘s Mamoru Oshii. “Manga and anime” is a section in the Routledge Companion to Science Fiction (2009). Among the chapters in Science fiction film and television: Across the screens (Routledge, 2012) is one on Cowboy Bebop. And some of the most seminal scholarly essays on Japanese animation to be published in English – among them, Carl Silvio’s Reconfiguring the radical cyborg in Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell (No. 77, March 1999), Michael Fisch’s Nation, war, and Japan’s future in the science fiction anime film Patlabor II (No. 80, March 2000), and the three articles by Susan Napier, Sharalyn Orbaugh, and Christopher Bolton in the special issue on Japanese science fiction (No. 88, November 2002 – appeared in the journal Science Fiction Studies – these include).

With this in mind, ever since Liverpool University Press launched the journal Science Fiction Film and Television, the only peer-reviewed scholarly journal I am aware of with that specific focus, I have been looking forward to the kind of scholarship on Japanese animation the journal would feature. Until now, it was limited to reviews of books (and edited collections containing chapters on) anime, as well as one review of a particular anime film. And now, “science fiction anime” is the specific theme of the journals’ new Autumn 2014 issue. (more…)