The arrival of a new sister precedes the discovery of a magical gateway that allows the four-year-old boy to encounter his family at different points in their lives, such as meeting his mother as a young girl. This is the story for “Mirai,” the next film by Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda. Hosoda released four original films in the last decade, each including fantastical elements like time-travel and anthropomorphic animals alongside grounded plots and likable characters.
Hosoda has continually surprised me. The simple descriptions of his films don’t sound like anything that would appeal to me, and yet I’ve enjoyed every one. So despite not caring about the idea behind Mirai, I know by now to give the film a chance. This guy hasn’t disappointed me yet, and I’m looking forward to watching his next movie. Until then, let’s glance back at his earlier material.
One month ago, I focused on the full-length films of Makoto Shinkai, but now I’m casting my net a little wider to bring forward five shows that should be watched and enjoyed. Naturally, the more obvious choices were excluded. Cowboy Bebop is fantastic, but it’s also inevitably one of the first titles tossed out when someone asks for recommendation. My intention is to breeze past the shows that everyone already knows.
You may be unfamiliar with the name Makoto Shinkai, but now it’s time to take notice. For over a decade, Shinkai has written and directed five full-length films and over a half-dozen shorts (among numerous other projects), and his most recent film Your Name has exploded in Japan. The film is one of the top grossing Japanese films in the country’s history, second only to Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, and recently began airing in theaters across the States. Celebration Cinema, my local theater, featured Your Name with subtitles or English dub.
Your Name continues a theme present in each of Shinkai’s full-length films. “When I was young as a teenager, that was the biggest mystery in the world to me: Why don’t people connect?” said Shinkai in a New York Times article about Your Name. “Even now I have that kind of obsession. . . . It’s kind of a mystery, and I’m trying to search for an answer.”
I forgot that the anniversary of my first post happened this early into the year, and forgetfulness left me with only two-ish weeks to find a way to celebrate the occasion. I couldn’t allow that to pass, largely because I’m surprised that I’d make it a single year without huge gaps between posts. That’s what happened when I tried the blogging thing before, and this blog stood a good chance of suffering a similar fate.
Ah, December. We tolerate you only because of the holidays, but you otherwise suck. Gray clouds drop piles of snow as the temperature plummets. Malls are full of last-minute shoppers unwilling to shop online weeks earlier, and a constant stream of mediocre Christmas song covers mingle with the obnoxious ringing bells from people hoping that you’re separate with a dollar.
The one positive of December is the influx of Game of the Year discussions, the one moment where most of the industry stops looking towards the horizon and instead peers back at the past eleven months. Often times those discussions are frustrating as the media manages to miss plenty of enjoyable, niche games, but that’s a great problem to have. So many games that critics stand zero chance of talking about everyone? That’s hardly a complaint we should dwell on.
Expect that I will join the discussion on December 29, granting me the most time to continue playing everything I can. In the meantime, this blog will cover every film and album of 2016, good and bad, that I watched and listened to. Movies this week, so without further delay…
Zero Time Dilemma, the third game in the Zero Escape trilogy of games, regularly jumps between one of three trio of characters without context for what occurred while we were off gallivanting with another group. That mystery is deepened because each character’s memory is erased between player jumps, so they lack the knowledge of what happened prior. Only by replaying Zero Time Dilemma are players able to view everything that happens.
Reviewers remarked on this, arguing that this non-linear form of storytelling is only possible in video games. Up through about two weeks ago, I agreed. Then I watched Baccano!