Makoto Shinkai Active Anime Presents "The Place Promised …" An Inteview with Makoto Shinkai. Active, your premier website dedicated to Japanese anime, is proud to present our interview with Director Makoto Shinkai about his latest animation, The Place Promised in Our Early Days.

ACTIVE ANIME:  What do you enjoy about working with animation?

Makoto Shinkai: The communication with other people is what I enjoy most about working with animation. Through the creation of animation, I can communicate with the staff, and later, when the work is complete, with the audience. I can share with others via animation complex feelings that words can't express. 

ACTIVE ANIME: You have been referred as the New Miyazaki, what are you thoughts on that?
Makoto Shinkai: Its an honor to hear, but I think the comparison is an overestimation. I myself am very influenced by Hayao Miyazaki, but his works have an incomparable richness that is not the same “animation” as my animation. I certainly won’t create such wonderful works in my future. However, I would like to deliver works that have a different place with audiences than the place of Hayao Miyazaki’s films.
ACTIVE ANIME:  Has your way of working and creating changed since you made "Voices from a Distant Star"?
Makoto Shinkai: Since “Voices” is an individual production and “Place Promised” is a group production, naturally my working methods became totally different. Currently I’m working on a new project where I also use techniques that are different from both “Voices” and “Place Promised”. In this way, I change my production style with each of my works. Maybe I just don’t have a settled method yet. I’m still in the midst of trial and error.
ACTIVE ANIME:  Were there any particular challenges while working on this film?
Makoto Shinkai: There were so many challenges. I stumbled in the screenplay and storyboard stages many times. Whenever I couldn’t find the right idea, I’d walk for miles around my neighborhood everyday. On the other hand, there were hardly any troubles with the animation and character design. Key Animation Director Tazawa took on many of the difficulties in the key animation stages. “Place Promised” was also Tazawa’s first big project, so he faced many challenges as well. I can’t thank Mr. Tazawa enough.
The dialogue in the film is quite poetic, and in one scene Sayuri is reading from Kenji Miyazawa's "Haru to Asura". What made you select that book for the movie?
Makoto Shinkai: “Haru to Asura” is a poem that was in a textbook from my own schooldays. The language is beautiful and its subject is reminiscent of many of the images in “Place Promised”, so I had the heroine read it in the beginning of the story.
ACTIVE ANIME:  The scenes in Aomori are stunning – the places seem to come alive. Had you been to the area before making the film?
Makoto Shinkai: Once without a final destination in mind, I visited Aomori accidentically. That visit gave me a very strong impression, so I decided to use Aomori as the setting. The scenery of Aomori is also very similar to the Nagano countryside where I grew up. That’s one of the reasons I chose Aomori.
ACTIVE ANIME: How did you come to use the unique design for the plane that Takuya and Hiroki build together?
Makoto Shinkai: From the very beginning I wanted to depict a scene with a plane that takes off with the thunderous roar of a jet engine, and then switches over to engulfing silence during flight using a super-conducting motor. To realize this flying sequence, I created the design for a mechanism where the wings can be transformed to a propeller with a super-conducting motor mid-flight. That’s why I considered that design.
ACTIVE ANIME: Of the works you have completed so far, do you have a personal favorite?
Makoto Shinkai: The 5-minute short “She and Her Cat”. Without being too eager, I just let the animation speak for itself. I’m pleased with its simplicity.
ACTIVE ANIME: The film has won several awards now, and there was even an instance when it won against Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle. What was your reaction to that particular award?
Makoto Shinkai:
My first thought was that the award could repay my gratitude to the staff and fans who supported me on this film. They might be able to think, “even if the work isn’t that big, it was good to be a part of it.” Personally, I believe “Place Promised” was awarded because the director is inexperienced and not on the map, so the work is far from perfect. Someday I would like to receive an award for work that is near-perfect and can compete with other animation equally. 
ACTIVE ANIME:  You and your work have become popular here in the United States. Did you ever think that you would become popular outside of Japan?
Makoto Shinkai: I’m very happy to hear that my work is accepted and becoming known in the US, but I never expected it. I thought my work would be a small work for a smaller world. I would really like to know what impressions everyone in America has of my films. Anyway, I’m very, very pleased to hear that my work is becoming popular. 
ACTIVE ANIME: Before we let you go, is there anything that you would like to say to your fans and other aspiring artists that wish to follow your footsteps?
Makoto Shinkai: For fans: No matter how small, I’ll be glad if my works can reach a part of your life. I’m searching to find how I can live as a better person through the works that I create. I hope that we can all find a good way of life.

For creators: I’m still a beginner in animation production, and even now it’s a trial and error process for me. My work usually faces many challenges and more headaches, rather than being perfectly stable. The situation you and I are in is probably not that different. I wish us both luck. 
ACTIVE ANIME: Mr. Shinkai, Thank you very much for your time.
Active would like to thank ComixWave for making this interview possible
Photo Courtesy of ComixWave
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Visit the Official Website of
The Place Promised in Our Early Days (Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho)@
Distributed in the US by ADV Films

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