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An interview with Makoto Shinkai

Date: 2008 June 22 18:17

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Otaku News went to a BFI screening of Makoto Shinkai's 5 Centimeters Per Second and was lucky enough to get an exclusive chance to have a private chat with Mr Shinkai, the writer and anime director.

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We asked "From what we understand you're currently living in London with the intent on learning English. Is this for personal reasons or for a project?"

Makoto Shinkai said he was staying in London for personal reasons, particularly for the experience in living in a place he doesn't know. He said he wanted to get out of his comfort zone to experience new things. He also revealed that he plans to stay in London until the end of the year (2008), and then go back to Tokyo, to hopefully start on a new project. We asked about this new project but he said he didn't really know what he intended to do next. He said he had a few ideas, but nothing solid yet.

Makoto Shinkai

One of the big motivations for the trip was to improve his English skills. He has been learning English in London for 4 months now. Speaking to him in English, it was clear he'd learnt a lot in such a short amount of time and could understand more than he could say. It will be interesting to see how good his English would be in another 4 months. We imagine he wouldn't need a translator by then.

Shinkai talked about how living in London had made him realise how much people rely on verbal communication and how difficult it is when you can't speak the local language. He compared first coming to London with how alone he felt when he first arrived in Tokyo and said how much more isolating it was not being able to easily talk to new people.

We asked if Makoto Shinkai was aware of the UK anime scene. He said he wasn't, but this is understandable. Many people the in the UK aren't aware of the UK anime scene, even some anime fans who are not aware of their local anime clubs.

After our private interview it was time for the BFI to screen 5 Centimeters per second. 350 people or so were watching the screening in NFT1, the main cinema screen at the BFI Southbank. This was followed by a questions and answers session with Makoto Shinkai.

This started with a screening of the 3 minute version of She and her cat. After watching the short, someone commented about how cats were a common feature in his stories. Shinkai talked about how he loved cats so much he had ended up adopting four or five abandoned cats in Shinjuku. He talked about them being around while they worked on The Places Promised In Our Early Days and how taking turns feeding them had helped the team unwind. He said one of the things he missed the most from Japan was having a cat.

He then talked about some of his influences. He said he loved sci-fi, particularly reading Arthur C Clarke (apologising if this sounded cheesy in a Q&A in London). He said the Studio Ghibli feature Laputa: Castle in the Sky was his favourite movie, and how he wanted to make features that have the same audience impact, although he felt he wasn't ready for that yet.

One fan asked when 5 Centimeters per second would be available in the UK on DVD, it was explained that it's currently stuck in rights limbo since the restructuring of ADV.

The session concluded with a round of applause for Mr Shinkai. Fans then had the opportunity to meet him as he signed DVDs and books being sold by the BFI.

During our time with Makoto Shinkai, he came across as an incredibly nice guy. He had a nice down to earth and self deprecating manner that wasn't what you would expect from an up and coming anime director. This wasn't the first introduction he had done for the BFI, and we certainly hope he'll do many more.

The Otaku News Crew would like to thank the BFI for giving us the opportunity to meet Makoto Shinkai.

Source: Otaku News
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