In his latest website update, Makoto Shinkai talks about how he will be moving to London to stay for a while early next year, at an English language school dorm. He doesn't know how long he'll be staying for but, anything up to an entire year which is what his visa will allow him. During that time, he'll be working on whatever work he couldn't finish in Japan over the internet. So, fans of Shinkai who are in London might be able to catch sight of him walking along the streets.
The 5cm novel has also been selling very well. So well that a decision was made to increase the number of copies being printed a week after it went on sale. Shinkai's a bit worried about the increase considering it's his novel's first print but, is happy about the results and thanks everyone who has bought a copy so far.
I should have waited on ordering the novel... But then again, YesAsia has disappointed me a number of times when I tried to order products that say "Ships within 7 - 14 days". They end up failing to get stock from their suppliers most of the times.
Anyway! Further good news is that the storyboarding for his next animation, a short 1 minute creation for NHK's "AniKuri 15" programme, is now complete. This time it's going to be something a bit more comical and it shouldn't be long before it goes into production. Unfortunately, NHK won't allow him to show any screenshots at the moment so you'll just have to gaze at this photo and guess what's on that sheet of paper. Sayuri seems to have been interrupting him during his work as if she knows Shinkai will be leaving her behind soon.
In case you don't know, "AniKuri 15" is a collaboration between Japanese TV broadcasting network NHK and 15 of Japan's greatest Anime creators. Thus the name "AniKuri 15", an abbreviation of the words "Anime" and "kurie-ta- (creator)".
According to the official site, ever since Ozamu Tezuka's "Astro Boy", Anime creators have constantly faced new challenges and as a result of their hard work, a new media culture has been created with the diversity and creativity that Japanese animation possesses. NHK themselves have also challenged themselves with various projects such as the 1 minute drama, "El Poporazzi". Now they want to rise up to a new challenge again by teaming up with the veteran Anime creators to create a collection of 1 minute animation shorts, one from each creator.
Split into three different "seasons" composed of 5 shorts each, they have been running several months now since May 2007. You won't be able to view these short movies on the site until the whole collaboration is over probably but in the meantime, you can go view other material such as the storyboarding and screenshots. You can also visit Youtube to watch a few of them subbed.
Season two just started airing with "Yurururu Nichijou Hen"so it will be a while before we see Shinkai's new work. I'm looking forward to what he's come up with. I think he done a good job with that 15 second Shinano Newspaper commercial so, I'm pretty eager to see what he can do with 1 minute. I'm sure we can expect some quality visuals and that it'll be more interesting than what's been shown so far by the other animators.
Most of the short movies of the first season have been pretty boring so far including those from Madhouse and Gonzo. I didn't quite like Madhouse's artwork in "Sancha Blues" but the scenario was fairly fun. With Gonzo's short, it was the other way round. They kept their smooth style of animation in "Hyottoko" but the scenario wasn't very interesting at all.
The only two I like so far is the very first one "Namida no Mukou (At the Other End of Tears)" by Akemi Hayashi from Gainax. She was the character designer and animation director for great shows such as Fruit Basket. The song you hear is "Hane" performed by I's Cube. The lyrics match nicely with the mildly animated plot and the contrast of colours is really good. You don't need to spend time figuring out what's going on. It just clicks the moment the short movie starts.
Someone actually tried putting in the Fruit Basket opening song, "For Fruit Basket" into it and it actually works out quite nicely. Makes me want to listen to the song and watch the series again now.
The other short movie I liked was "Wandaba Kiss" by Atsushi Takeuchi (Ghost in the Shell) from Production IG, a story about what looks like a little puppy trying to get a boy and a girl together. The animation style and music works well together and, there's a bit of cute comedy in it. If you like gadgets you'll probably be gazing in wonder at the feudal machine built here.