But he also thinks that may be the secret to the anime’s success.
Thanks to the largely unprecedented and almost entirely unexpected levels of success achieved by anime film Your Name, director Makoto Shinkai’s name has been all over the Japanese media for the past half-year. But while the overall reaction to the movie has been overwhelmingly positive, once a piece of media achieves the level of fame that Your Name has, it’s undoubtedly going to draw some negative reactions as well.
Last month, Tatsuya Egawa, creator of manga Golden Boy and Be Free/frequent picker of fights with anime luminaries, threw a hefty dose of shade at Your Name, condemning it as “not interesting at all.” Award-wining author Ira Ishida may not have been so direct in his criticism, but he still had some less-than-complimentary remarks about Shinkai’s film.
In speaking with Japanese media outlet News Post Seven, Ishida, who’s won the prestigious Naoki Award for literature and had two of his novels (Ikebukuro West Gate Park and Akihabara@DEEP) adapted into manga, said:
“I think Makoto Shinkai, the director of Your Name, is good at grasping the emotions of young people. I figure he probably didn’t have any enjoyable romances in his high school days.”
Ishida went on to say that he thinks that Shinkai channels his imagined ideal of young romance into the anime he creates, and voiced his opinion that “Having a character who’s never had a steady girlfriend or had sex, but who’s still cool, is a fundamental part of a girls’ manga-like world.” And while some have been calling Shinkai “the next Hayao Miyazaki,” Ishida pointed to what he feels is a stark difference between the two anime creators.
“With Miyazaki and his themes of man versus nature, he packs his work with his own experiences. But with Shinkai, I don’t think he’s really experienced [the things being portrayed in his films].”
Ishida wrapped up on a kinder note, though, and even put forth the theory that Shinkai’s possible lack of experience with teen romance is what’s made him a success. “His anime is a utopia that can be made precisely because he doesn’t have those kinds of experiences,” he asserted, finishing with “Maybe that’s the reason why he can understand what young people desire deep in their hearts.”
Despite having never been so squarely in the spotlight before the release of Your Name, Shinkai is proving to be admirably adept at taking backhanded compliments in stride. Upon hearing the Ishida’s analysis, Shinkai responded by saying “I wonder why someone I’ve never even met feels compelled to speak on what experiences I do or don’t have, or the nature of my life, and as though he knows everything about me?” He followed that up with a laugh, much like he did in response to Egawa’s criticisms, showing once again that he’s very much his own filmmaker, and that while Your Name may not be for absolutely everyone, he’s made the anime he wanted to make, and apparently has no regrets about what’s been seen by so very many moviegoers.