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Archive for February 25th, 2012

By Bob Clark

Makoto Shinkai’s origins as an amateur animator, creating a pair of shorts in his off time as an illustrator at a Japanese game company, are now something like the stuff of otaku legend. There’s an inspiring quality in the way that a single artist using little more than Photoshop could produce impressive, sometimes even stunning works and quickly move to making features on the scale and scope of veteran directors like Miyazaki, to whom the young director has most often been compared to. Indeed, at 38, he’s one of the most successful and youngest animators in the modern era, surpassed only by Hideaki Anno in recent memory, who at his age had already completed the magnum opus of Neon Genesis Evangelion and its apocalyptic film finale. Shinkai’s accomplishments so far are a little more modest, but only just quite– his two features, The Place Promised in our Early Days and Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below have won droves of accolades from critics and fans around the world, who both liken the director to the older masters of Studios Ghibli and Gainax, while also marveling at his own unique sensibilities, especially the way that he manipulates light and color to create immersive and convincing expressionistic landscapes both on the ground and deep in the sky. But for all the ways his longer works have solidified his esteem in online establishments, it’s his shorter works that have both earned and continued that respect, even in their slightest of forms.

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