Move would make Makoto Shinkai’s hit eligible for consideration at February’s Oscar awards, but does it have a chance of winning?
The visual and directorial styles of Makoto Shinkai, creator of anime movie Your Name, and Hayao Miyazaki, of Spirited Away, Princess Monoke, and Totoro fame, are extremely different. That said, Shinkai is finding himself frequently mentioned in the same breath as the Studio Ghibli co-founder, as his latest film is soaring to heights no other non-Miyazaki anime ever has at the box office.
Soon, Your Name may have another chance to pull off another feat that’s been so far exclusive to Miyazaki, as its North American distributors are gearing up for a theatrical run that would be the first step in Your Name being nominated for, and possibly winning, an Academy Award, an honor currently unique to Miyazaki-directed Japanese animation.
Variety reports that Texas-headquartered anime distributor Funimation is planning to show the film in U.S. theaters before the end of 2016. While such a venture would likely be of the “for a limited time/in select theaters” type, Variety claims that it would still be of sufficient scale to qualify Your Name for consideration in the Best Animated Feature category at the 89th Academy Awards, which will be held in February of 2017 to recognize works released during the 2016 calendar year.
Otaku probably shouldn’t go shopping for cummerbunds just yet, though. Anime has a pretty poor track record at the Oscars, with just one win, Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, out of a total of five nominations (Ghibli’s When Marnie Was There, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, and The Wind Rises have come up short at the last three Academy Awards). There’s also the issue of whether Academy voters would find Your Name’s conventional, if gorgeously polished, artwork to be as recognition-worthy as that of more experimental or technologically advanced productions. And while the film is certainly romantic, its narrative might not be considered artistic, epic, or socially poignant enough to secure the support it would need to take home the award.
Moreover, the Best Animated Feature contest figures to be packed with stiff competition this year, with popular hits Zootopia and Finding Dory, critically acclaimed The Red Turtle and Kubo and the Two Strings, and also the upcoming Moana, which reunites the directors of Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, all eligible. Of the 15 awards to date that the Academy has handed in the category, 10 have gone to Disney or Pixar, and with the two organizations likely to have three entries between them this time, Shinkai’s film coming out on top would be a monumental upset.
But then again, keeping faith in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds is entirely appropriate when discussing Your Name, given that at its heart the movie is a love story between two people who don’t know if they’ll ever actually meet one another. And even if Your Name doesn’t come away with a little gold-plated statuette, simply securing a nomination would make it the first non-Ghibli Japanese animated work to do so, and would be an important step forward for the anime industry in the post-Miyazaki era.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s trying to recall if he’s ever watched anime while dressed in formal wear.