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Archive for March 3rd, 2012

By Bob Clark

In honor of this film’s showing as a part of the New York International Children’s Film Festival, this piece is being rerun. A schedule for the entire festival, including one morning screening for this film that’s still open as of this posting, can be found here.

For years now, writer/director Makoto Shinkai has been called “the next Miyazaki”, a kind of praise that arrives sounding more like a challenge, and for years he’s managed to do his best at avoiding it, lest he be burdened with the prospect of living up to it. Never mind the fact that his previous efforts all betray less similarities to the master’s work than that of more modern directors– Voices From a Distant Star and The Place Promised In Our Early Days especially owe a far greater debt to Hideaki Anno than his mentor in the Nausicaa days. Perhaps with Five Centimeters Per Second we began to see more of a Ghibli-esque tone, with the realistic setting and sentimental romance, but even then it feels closer to efforts like Whisper of the Heart than the epic fantasies that Miyazaki has made over the course of three decades. Well, with his latest effort, and from the looks of it perhaps his first made expressly as a work of feature theatrical-bound animation (all the rest of his work betrays their OVA roots, even at their best moments), Shinkai finally rises to the challenge and delivers on the promise of those hyperbole compliments. It may be early to say that Children Who Chase Voices From Deep Below earns Shinkai a place in the canon of anime-auteurs alongside the likes of Miyazaki, Anno, Oshii or the late Satoshi Kon, but I’d rather be early than fashionably late to the party on this one.

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