Believe it or not, some people don’t like Makoto Shinkai’s newest anime, and one comment in particular has him feeling angry.
With its phenomenal critical and commercial success, both in Japan and abroad, it seems like almost everyone loves Your Name, the latest anime film from director Makoto Shinkai. Of course, “almost” is just another way of saying “not,” and even a movie with as near-universal popularity as Your Name is going to have a few detractors.
Shinkai was a guest on the December 18 broadcast of TBS Radio program Yozo Dojo’s Health Dojo, where the topic of conversation turned to those who’ve criticized his most recent animated work. Among the complaints that have been lobbed the director’s way are:
“If you make a movie with lots of catchy, trendy elements, it’s not hard to making over 10 billion yen (US$85.5 million) at the box office.”
“Shinkai threw away his artistic style to make the movie a hit.”
“He sold his soul for financial success.”
“He just mixed together various common motifs, so of course the movie is gonna be popular.”
One of the harshest reactions to Your Name, though, came Tatsuya Egawa, the manga artist of Golden Boy, who’s also worked as a college math professor and live-action pornography director. During an appearance on Japanese TV in October, Egawa dismissed Shinkai’s film by declaring:
“Looking at the film as a professional, it’s not interesting at all.”
As one would expect from Shinkai’s penchant for tenderly emotional storytelling, he didn’t fly into a tirade when these biting critiques of Your Name were brought up. However, he didn’t crumble into despair either, and instead made the following rebuttal.
“Well, maybe they’re exactly right [about Your Name not being very good. But at the same time, if it’s that easy for them to make a successful anime, by all means, they should go right ahead and make one too. I didn’t aim for the big box office numbers; those are just the result of the movie being what it is. After all, it’s hard to sell something that’s specifically created to be sold.”
Shinkai wasn’t done, either. In describing Your Name’s production, he recalled “For two years, we struggled and struggled and struggled. So when I hear people saying ‘It’s a movie that combines catchy, trendy things,’ I get pretty angry.’”
Nonetheless, the director wrapped up his comment with a laugh, seemingly secure in the knowledge that Your Name, which has Shinkai’s personal style in droves, has struck a chord with far too many satisfied viewers for him to worry too much about those it failed to move. And as for Egawa, well, there’s a chance that he just likes to pick fights with anime creators.