The Garden of Words is Makoto Shinkai’s latest film, returning to his favorite subject of star-crossed romances being jerked around by fate. I think it’s the emptiest of Shinkai’s films, but this one does seem to be more about the craftsmanship than the content.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices (Hoshi o Ou Kodomo) is the fifth major film by Makoto Shinkai. It’s a fantasy yarn about Asuna, a young girl living in a rural Japanese village, who visits a certain mountain to listen to signals on an unusual radio. One day she hears a haunting melody, and soon after meets a young man named Shun. This sets off a chain of events leading to Asuna’s discovery of Agartha, a world underneath the earth where the gate between the living and the dead is believed to be.
5 Centimeters Per Second consists of 3 short stories, “Oukashou,” “Cosmonaut,” and “5 Centimeters Per Second.” They each show the life of a young man, Tohno Takaki, at different stages as he deals with his feelings for a childhood friend. As time passes, they drift further apart, but Takaki seems unable to move on.
The Place Promised in Our Early Days is Shinkai Makoto’s first full length feature, and second widely distributed anime work. It is set in an alternate history, where Japan has been split into two – the mysterious Union controls Ezo (formerly Hokkaido), and the Allies control the south. Even from far away Tokyo, everyone can see a gigantic tower; it is said that the Union is somehow using this tower to develop a weapon. To three middle school kids, the tower is the object of their dreams. Fijusawa Hiroki and Shirakawa Takuya have been building a plane in secret so that they can one day cross the sea and reach the tower in Ezo. They befriend Sawatari Sayuri, who has had a crush on Hiroki for a while, and promise one day to go to the tower together. Before this can happen, Sayuri disappears suddenly, only to turn up later in a comatose state. The National Security Agency believes her dreams have something to do with the experiments the Union has been conducting around the tower, and before anyone can say anything, war is declared. Three years later, Hiroki leads his own life, but is haunted by dreams of Sayuri. It seems like she’s trying to tell him something, but he can’t quite piece it together. All he knows is that he has to fly to that tower, despite the impending war.
On Mars, one of the earth’s colonies has been attacked by the aliens known as Tarsians. In response, the United Nations uses recovered Tarsian technology to make a fleet of starships that will scour the solar system – and beyond – to counter their threat. Mikako, a young student, is recruited to pilot one of the mecha that will be used in combat against the aliens. Though she is eager to help fend off the threat to humanity, she must be separated from Noboru, the one she deeply cares about. They try to retain their relationship throughout the expedition into space, but it becomes clear that distance and time will strain their connection.