Being able to see this movie in the Norwegian cinemas is nothing short of a miracle.
To get an idea how non-existent anime is in the Norwegian mainstream. We are this summer getting Princess Mononoke in the cinemas. Only what? 20 years late? We never had the Ghibli craze, we never had Adult Swim and the Toonami boom that followed, but we are slowly and steady moving towards that over here. And I believe this movie is a significant step on the way to get there.
This film was originally not supposed to be shown in Norway, but all the weebs across the country banded together and every week sent messages to the publishers called Arthaus to bring the film here. And they listened. So we miraculously got the film at the same time as America. And to or surprise, the movie did pretty damn well in the cinemas. I work in a movie theatre so I could monitor this film very closely and to my happy surprise, this was the most successful foreign movie (yes, Hollywood movies are not seen as foreign.) we have ever had in my time working there. People were consistently coming in to watch the movie, and some like my friends and me went to watch the movie several times partly just to support it. This film even managed to stay 5 weeks in the cinema which is a time even several Hollywood movies manages to reach. This might be a very local sample, but my boss told me it was pretty much the same around in Scandinavia.
The reason I think this is crucial is that It shows the industry that anime movies can be profitable, and it opens them more to importing more anime movies in the future or at least make it’s easier to convince them about it. And weeb movies are something I care greatly about, so this is something important to me, but what to I think about the actual film?
I like it. More so than I like the director’s previous work. “5 centimetres a second” is a movie that struck a chord with a lot of people and some would deem the saddest movie ever created. It just left me bored and uninvested. But I did recognise that Makoto was a talented director that could utilise camera lens techniques and astonishing backgrounds to create an almost realistic feel and a solid atmosphere. It was mostly writing-wise I had a problem with him. A problem I did not have with his newest creation.
I have always been a fan of trope-y and genre-savvy movies. People often associate tropes with being bland and unoriginal. Even though that might be true in some cases, I feel that it stems more from being reliant on tropes rather than using them to your advantage, but just using tropes to either misdirect your audience or just to take them in a new or refreshing way can be a powerful tool. A good example would be The Guardians of the Galaxy. They took tired archetypes and breathed new life into them without actually changing the foundations much. It just understood why that type of characters work and made them play off each other with fantastic acting and writing to support them. And this all ties back to Your Name (and a point that I made in a previous post.) that it takes a familiar setup/story and use it to tell a refreshing and unique story while being familiar. I think it’s in the way it changes the small details that make it feel so special while not straying too far from its genre trappings.
Another strong suit of this movie is the visuals. It’s fascinating that even though his characters aren’t very realistically drawn or even shaded, people still perceive the movie to look very realistic because he uses techniques you would get with a camera lens. He utilises stuff like lens flares and DOP to give the illusion that this is captured through a camera. And also, those drop dead gorgeous backgrounds. I don’t know how he achieves it, but the team he has produces some of the most beautiful, detailed and well-rendered environments there is. Even in his movies I don’t like, it’s still oozing with atmosphere from the environment. Just damn. He is also very good at environmental storytelling, Not once in the movie are we told that he is an architect. But we understand it trough subtle and no so subtle clues in their room. You can tell a lot about the characters in this movie from the world they live in.
One thing I noticed when I was watching the film a second time is that the epilogue of the film became better the more you knew about the director beforehand. Normally there is no doubt in romantic movies that they will end up together in the end, but because I knew from previous movies that the director was not afraid to have a sad ending. I was feeling the genuine tension in the end whether they would end up with each other or not. The second time watching the ending it was a lot weaker because the uncertainty was gone, but holy hell the first time watching was a rollercoaster.
In the end, this was a movie that might not have swooned me as much as it did to rest of the world. But it’s still a good movie with fantastic visuals and great characters and locations. It holds mass appeal (even our parents saw the movies and loved it.), and I am confident recommending it to everyone because most people will like it by pure statistics.