From “Voices of a Distant Star” to “Your Name”—Celebrating 15 Years of Shinkai Makoto at the “Exhibition of Shinkai Makoto”

04.December.2017 | FEATURES / SPOT

The “Exhibition of Shinkai Makoto” is currently being held at The National Art Center in Roppongi, Tokyo to commemorate 15 years of Shinkai Makoto’s career as an animated film director. Today, Ren Koseki, an openly declared fan of Shinkai’s body of work, takes us on a tour of this highly praised exhibition to give us the full scope. You can be certain that you will 100% enjoy the exhibition by reading this report.


Shinkai Makoto made his industry debut back in 2002 with the release of “Voices of a Distant Star.” He was responsible for much of the film’s creation, acting as the director, writer, storyboarder, cinematographer, character designer, and more. Upon its release, the animated film won many awards at the first Tokyo International Anime Fair 21 (now Tokyo International Anime Fair), as well as a string of other awards, allowing the world to know Shinkai Makoto’s name.


This exhibition documents the works of every Shinkai Makoto feature to date, including storyboards, photographs, setting materials and documents, and more. It is a valuable must-see display for both fans and newcomers to Shinkai’s world alike.


Pictured above is concept art by Takumi Tanji, the art director for “Children Who Chase Lost Voices” (2011). Ren-chan is observing Shinkai Makoto’s artistic feat of merging illustrations with photography. She was absorbed in the displays showcasing backgrounds for the films.


Another unmissable highlight of the exhibition was the abundance of artwork you will find not only on the walls, but hanging from the ceiling too.


The exhibition showcases a wide range of Shinkai’s productions, from his animated movies to his work in commercials. Each display has a description for the concept of the work, so be sure to take your time in reading them all.


Shinkai’s films that have been internationally critically acclaimed were also on show, including the phenomenon “Your Name” for which a Hollywood live-action adaptation has been announced. Film posters for the movies from countries all around the world are on displays, you you can enjoy comparing each one.


You can get all the inside information from the official illustrated book at the exhibition which includes the works on display as well as interviews with those involved in their productions. It’s a big book and features beautiful cuts from various scenes, all the way to the corners.


To bring Shinkai’s world to life even more, there are also special little pieces on display from his works. Ren-chan was particularly interested in the shoes from “The Garden of Words” which Takao made for Yukino. They’re an important item even in the movie.


There’s a life-sized drawing of the characters from “Your Name.” Although they’re anime characters and not real people, you can feel the height balance between them, giving it a sense of reality.


One of the most impressive aspects of Shinkai’s works are the breathtaking environments. At the exhibition, you can appreciate the work that goes into making the life-like backgrounds by seeing each layer piece by piece. Ren-chan was also incredibly impressed. Be sure to check out the film’s scenic environments if you go to visit, all the way from the front to the back!


This piece pictured above is from “5 Centimeters per Second” and shows the amazing work production that goes into creating the backgrounds. They are separated into small layers, with both big and fine details being added, to finally create the shading of that one, certain gorgeous light.


One special highlight to draw attention to are the original key frames drawn by Shinkai himself. You can see little instructions on his original illustrations and how the entire film eventually came to be.


Both digital and analog storyboarding was used for “Your Name.” Whichever one you look at, you can see how much work went into the shading and shadowing of the light. Ren-chan expressed her love for how good Shinkai’s work is in writing two characters that miss each other. She was ecstatic in how well this was captured when looking at the storyboards.


You won’t get to see this anywhere else. Just for the exhibition, Shinkai’s work spaces were reconstructed! You can really get a feel for the time spent working on the production of his works as well as the different computers used over the years and changes in his digital environment.


People are not allowed to film or take photos at the exhibition, but they have prepared one particular spot where you’re allowed to take photos. Try taking a photo copying a scene from “Your Name.” like above and post it.


There’s also a photo spot that uses augmented reality to make it look like you are inside the world of “The Garden of Words.” This will be a moving spot for fans taking a photo as you become one of the characters to appear in the story’s world!


The exhibition also has a guided audio tour, something that has become the norm at museums. The narrator for this particular audio tour is actor and voice actor Ryunosuke Kamiki, a public fan of Shinkai and the voice of Taki Tachibana, the lead male character in “Your Name.” In his dialogue with the director, he expresses his wonder as a fan, talking about the exhibition and how you can take the time to enjoy the transition of the works as well as the beauty of the films themselves.

There are too many awe-inspiring highlights of Shinkai Makoto’s exhibition that we can’t cover them all in this one article. They are screening Shinkai’s films at the event, so if you’ve missed any then what better place to catch up! The schedule can be found on the official exhibition page (English), so be sure to check it out. Winter may be approaching making you want to stay indoors, but the Exhibition of Shinkai Makoto is the one reason you must persevere and get out there!



“Exhibition of Shinkai Makoto”
Running: November 11th-December 18th *closed every Tuesday
Time: 10:00-18:00 (open until 20:00 every Friday and Saturday) *Last admissions: 30 minutes before closing
Location: Special Exhibition Gallery 2E, The National Art Center, Tokyo
Same-Day – ¥1,600 (Adults) / ¥1,200 (University Students) / ¥800 (High School Students)
Advance/Group – ¥1,600 (Adults) / ¥1,000 (University Students) / ¥600 (High School Students)