A Symphony of Rain and Emotion: The Best of Makoto Shinkai's Films


Step into the evocative world of Makoto Shinkai, a director whose name is synonymous with awe-inspiring love stories and breathtaking animation. With "Your Name," he not only charmed audiences worldwide but also played a pivotal role in introducing anime to Western audiences. Shinkai's ability to craft narratives that resonate deeply with the human experience is unparalleled, and this list brings together his most celebrated works.

From the celestial tapestry of "Weathering with You" to the much-anticipated "Suzume," Makoto Shinkai continues to push the boundaries of storytelling in anime. His films are not just animated; they are immersive experiences that tug at the heartstrings and leave a lasting impression. As we explore "The Garden of Words" and "5 Centimeters Per Second," it becomes evident that Shinkai is a storyteller who paints with emotions. Every raindrop and every fleeting moment is meticulously crafted to convey the complexities of human connection.

Join us in celebrating Makoto Shinkai's legacy – a legacy that extends beyond the borders of Japan and speaks to the universal themes of love, longing, and the beauty found in the ordinary moments of life.

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1. Your Name (Kimi no Na wa.) (2016)

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Director: Makoto Shinkai
Cast: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Ryo Narita
Genre: Anime, Romance, Drama, Fantasy

My Take:

I am in awe of this stunning movie. I’ve watched it multiple times, both in its original Japanese release and in English, and I can’t get enough. “Your Name” is a true masterpiece from writer and director Makoto Shinkai, and it takes the fantasy and romance genres to new heights with its unique blend of humour, heart, and heart-wrenching twists.

Every so often, when I wake up in the morning, I find myself crying; I can never remember the dream I must have had. But the sensation that I’ve lost something lingers for a long time after I wake up. I am always searching for something or someone.”

The story follows Mitsuha Miyamizu, a 17-year-old girl who is discontent with her life in a small town and dreams of living in the city, and Taki, a young boy living in Tokyo. They start having strange dreams in which they swap bodies, and they soon realize that these are not just dreams but a true connection between them. As they navigate the ups and downs of living in each other’s bodies, they come to understand the meaning of love, loss, and the power of memories.

The animation in “Your Name” is breathtaking, and the attention to detail in every frame is simply remarkable. Every movie aspect is crafted with care and precision, from the lush landscapes to the intricate character designs. The musical score and songs, composed by Radwimps, are also a film highlight, seamlessly integrating with the story and evoking a range of emotions with each note. The voice acting is top-notch, especially in the original Japanese version, and adds depth and nuance to the characters.

While Hollywood is notorious for ruining beloved films with its remakes, I sincerely hope that they leave “Your Name” alone. This movie is a true gem, and it stands on its own as a landmark film in the anime genre. Despite its tight production schedule and budget constraints, Makoto Shinkai has created something truly special with “Your Name,” and it deserves to be celebrated and cherished.

The tight production period and constraint budget didn’t stop Makoto Shinkai from making “Your Name” a landmark film. The rich composition of beautiful scenery in every frame, heart-warming soundtrack, brilliant storytelling, and heartfelt, unforgettable scenes evoke feelings and emotions.

2. Weathering with You (2019)

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Director: Makoto Shinkai
Cast: Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori, Shun Oguri
Genre: Drama, Romance

My Take:

Weathering with You (2019) is a film that is a feast for the senses. It is the film anime film released in India, and I had a blast experiencing anime on the big screen for the first time. Directed by Makoto Shinkai, the movie explores the themes of love, sacrifice, and climate change. The screenplay is thought-provoking and grounded in fantasy, with coming-of-age elements that make for an enjoyable and emotional ride.

The human mind works in mysterious ways, you just need to see the sun shining in the morning to feel energized.

Shinkai’s experiences during Japan’s rainy season influenced the movie’s development. He was struck by the beauty and power of the rain, which inspired him to create a story exploring the relationship between people and weather.

The two main protagonists, Hodaka and Hina, are endearing and relatable as they navigate life and fall in love with each other. From the beautifully rendered sunshine scenes to the mesmerizing rain scenes, the visuals are a treat for the eyes. The use of weather manipulation and magic also adds a layer of intrigue to the film.

RADWIMPS, who also composed the soundtrack for Your Name, delivers another beautiful score that complements the movie’s emotional and entertaining moments. The songs are catchy and memorable and add weight to the movie’s most poignant scenes.

Weathering with You is an enchanting anime film that immerses viewers in a mesmerizing world of love, sacrifice, and climate change. It stands out not only for its stunning visuals and captivating music but also for the meaningful themes it explores. The screenplay artfully blends fantasy elements with coming-of-age moments, creating a story that is enjoyable and emotionally resonant.

3. Suzume (2023)

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Director: Makoto Shinkai
Nanoka Hara, Hokuto Matsumura, Eri Fukatsu
Genre: Action, Adventure

My Take:

"Suzume (2023)" ventures into the poignant realm of mourning for places, a departure from Makoto Shinkai's traditional romance narratives. As Japan grapples with deserted spaces due to demographic shifts, Shinkai seeks to explore the mourning process for locations, a sentiment often overlooked. The film's genesis lies in Shinkai's observations of abandoned buildings across Japan, prompting him to question the absence of prayers for these structures compared to the rituals observed for people.

How much meaning must we overcome before we reach our destination?

The narrative revolves around Suzume Iwato, a 17-year-old high school girl who encounters a mysterious young man, Souta Munakata. Their journey unfolds as they collaborate to prevent disasters caused by a colossal, supernatural worm. Suzume's ability to see through doors reveals a world fraught with magical intricacies, connecting her to the Ever-After, a realm where souls reside post-death. The film creatively weaves elements of fantasy, grief, and self-discovery, diverging from conventional romantic arcs.

Makoto Shinkai's decision to shift away from traditional romance is evident in Suzume's unique storyline. Initially conceived as a sisterhood narrative, it evolved into a tale centered around Suzume's peculiar connection with a talking chair, a departure from conventional romantic tropes. Shinkai's artistic choice to focus on a more human story, transcending gender and sexual commentary, adds depth to Suzume's character, making the film relatable beyond traditional romantic narratives.

As Suzume embarks on a journey with a stranger named Souta Munakata to prevent a supernatural disaster caused by colossal worms, the film becomes a metaphorical exploration of grief, trauma, and the resilience of the human spirit. The animation in "Suzume" is a visual marvel, showcasing the same level of artistry seen in Shinkai's previous works. The film's background scores and editing contribute to its immersive quality, elevating the emotional resonance of the story.

4. The Garden of Words (2013)

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Director: Makoto Shinkai
Miyu Irino, Kana Hanazawa, Fumi Hirano
Genre: Drama, Romance

My Take:

"The Garden of Words" (2013) is a visual and emotional masterpiece, a poignant exploration of unrequited love and the unexpected connections that blossom in the most unlikely of places. Directed by Makoto Shinkai, the film follows the story of Takao, a high school student aspiring to be a shoemaker, and Yukari, a mysterious older woman who finds solace in the same garden during rainy days. Set against the backdrop of Tokyo's Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, the narrative delicately unfolds, revealing the complexities of love that transcend age and societal norms.

A faint clap of thunder / Even if rain comes or not / I will stay here / Together with you.

Inspired by Japan's oldest collection of poems, the Man'yoshu, Shinkai weaves a tale around the central theme of loneliness. The term "koi," representing lonely sadness or a longing for someone in solitude, serves as the emotional core of the film. "The Garden of Words" becomes a love story for those who feel incomplete in their social relations, capturing the essence of loneliness without the need for resolution. Rain, a recurring motif in the film, symbolizes the force of love—uncontrollable and unstoppable.

In this visually stunning 40-minute movie, Shinkai cap tures the beauty of fleeting moments and the melancholy of unfulfilled desires. The animation is a testament to the director's meticulous attention to detail, creating a world where every raindrop tells a story. The narrative unfolds with a delicate balance, allowing the audience to immerse themselves in the emotions of the characters. Shinkai's ability to capture the essence of loneliness and the beauty of unspoken emotions elevates this anime to a level of artistry rarely seen.

5. 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007)

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Director: Makoto Shinkai
Kenji Mizuhashi, Yoshimi Kondou, Satomi Hanamura
Genre: Drama

My Take:

"5 Centimeters Per Second" (2007) stands as a poignant reflection on the bittersweet nature of life, love, and the passage of time. Directed by Makoto Shinkai, the film derives its title from the speed at which cherry blossom petals fall—a metaphor for the slow, inevitable drift of people apart. The narrative unfolds in three distinct chapters, each capturing a different phase of separation between two individuals. Shinkai, departing from his usual fantasy and science fiction elements, offers a realistic portrayal of life's struggles against time, space, and the complexities of love.

In the first chapter, "Cherry Blossom," we witness the blossoming friendship between Takaki and Akari during their adolescence. The convenience store serves as a backdrop to their encounters, and as their connection deepens, the cherry blossoms become a powerful symbol of their bond. However, circumstances force them apart, setting the stage for the subsequent chapters, "Cosmonaut" and "5 Centimeters Per Second." The film explores the themes of nostalgia, desperation, and disillusionment as the characters navigate the challenges of distance and the inevitability of farewell.

"5 Centimeters Per Second" becomes a beautifully flawed film, capturing the complexities and imperfections of human relationships. It becomes a meditation on the ephemerality of moments, the inevitability of change, and the enduring impact of connections forged in adolescence. The emotional depth of the narrative is accentuated by Shinkai's meticulous attention to visual details and the evocative use of symbolism, particularly the wristwatch that becomes a silent witness to the characters' journey.


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