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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