The Silver Emulsion Podcast: Ep. 56 – 5 Centimeters per Second

We’re back in the well of anime with Makoto Shinkai’s 5 Centimeters per Second! We also go on a few tangents, but the only one I remember off the top of my head is when I ranted about Harry Potter. Listen and enjoy! 🙂

Also: the show is now on iTunes! So if you feel like subscribing there, or rating/reviewing the show, feel free to share your thoughts!

Music Notes


  • Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited


  • Bob Dylan – When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky (Original Version)
    • The Bootleg Series, Vol. 3: Rare And Unreleased, 1961-1991 (iTunes, Amazon)

If you’ve got feedback, throw it into the comments below or email it to me via the contact page! We’ll include it in a future show!

The podcast is embedded directly below this, or you can go directly to Podbean (or use their app) to listen. If you want to subscribe, paste into whatever reader you’re using.

Stephen reviews: Garden of Words (2013)

KRp4l9rGarden of Words [言の葉の庭 Kotonoha no Niwa] (2013)

Starring Miyu Irino, Kana Hanazawa, Fumi Hirano, Takeshi Maeda, Yuka Terasaki, Takanori Hoshino, Suguru Inoue, Megumi Han, Mikako Komatsu, Yuki Hayashi

Directed by Makoto Shinkai

After being disappointed by Children Who Chase Lost Voices, I was hopeful that Shinkai would return to the style he has been so good at before. With Garden of Words he did exactly that, so I am thankful, but he went back to a 5CM Per Second style of realistic romance. I really do wish he would go back to the intriguing science fiction premises that wound through his earlier films. Without that speculative side, Garden of Words becomes just another bittersweet tale of impossible love, which is what all of his films center around. This isn’t really a bad thing; it’s just that I prefer to have something beyond a simple romance story.

The film centers around a high school boy who likes the rain, and ditches class every time it rains. He hangs out in a park with a covered bench and enjoys the weather with a sketchbook in hand. His career goal is to become a women’s shoe designer. Now that may be odd, but at least he’s got dreams, right? One day he encounters an older woman also ditching work who seems to like the combination of beer and chocolate. They continue meeting every time it rains, and gradually grow closer to each other.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Garden of Words (2013) →

Stephen reviews: Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011)

children_who_chase_lost_voices_from_deep_belowChildren Who Chase Lost Voices [星を追う子ども Hoshi o Ou Kodomo] (2011)
AKA Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below, Journey to Agartha

Starring Hisako Kanemoto, Kazuhiko Inoue, Miyu Irino, Junko Takeuchi, Funiko Orisaka, Sumi Shimamoto, Tamio Ohki, Rina Hidaka

Directed by Makoto Shinkai

After watching the luscious visuals of 5 Centimeters Per Second, I just couldn’t keep away from Makoto Shinkai’s latest film any longer. The allure of a fantasy world seen through Shinkai’s visual style was just too strong. I certainly got some wonderful fantasy world visuals, and I loved those quite a bit even if they weren’t the best Shinkai has produced.

Unfortunately, the promotional art that reminded me so much of a Studio Ghibli production proved a little too true. The spunky female lead was certainly reminiscent of any number of Ghibli films, and her jittery cat bore a definite similarity to the squirrel-foxes of Nausicaa and Laputa. Inspiration is one thing, but this crosses that fine line into rip-off. And when the scene from Princess Mononoke of Ashitaka saying goodbye to his sister was copied almost exactly, it was nothing short of depressing.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011) →

Stephen reviews: 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007)

kinopoisk.ru5 Centimeters Per Second: A Chain of Short Stories About Their Distance [秒速5センチメートル] (2007)

Starring Kenji Mizuhashi, Yoshimi Kondo, Satomi Hanamura, Ayaka Onoue

Directed by Makoto Shinkai

I have to admit to a bit of disappointment with this film. After Makoto Shinkai’s other films I wanted another thought-provoking science fiction tale, but this time around he sticks to a straight up love story. This isn’t really surprising since both Voices of a Distant Star, and The Place Promised in Our Early Days had a very heavy romantic element underscoring the sci-fi, but I was still hoping for the creative ideas that made his prior works so intriguing.

Not that this is a bad film at all. Its focus on a single aspect gives a degree of depth to his recurrent themes of love and longing that his earlier films don’t have, and I’ve come to a better understanding of his take on things. Shinkai’s world is a bittersweet one, filled with missed opportunities, lost nerves, and lovers kept apart by fate. But despite the sadness laced throughout its themes of separated lovers, this is not a dismal story. Its heroes are not the tragic figures of Shakespeare. Even failure is a bright and airy thing in this film, a precious and joyful memory to be cherished. It’s a set of themes that resonates quite well with me. I found myself identifying with the stories, and actually enjoying the film quite a bit.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007) →

Stephen reviews: The Place Promised In Our Early Days (2004)

The Place Promised In Our Early Days [雲のむこう、約束の場所, Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho] (2004)
AKA Beyond the Clouds, The Promised Place

Starring Hidetaka Yoshioka, Masato Hagiwara, Yuuka Nanri, Kazuhiko Inoue, Risa Mizuno, Unshou Ishizuka

Directed by Makoto Shinkai

Even after watching Shinkai’s earlier short, Voices of a Distant Star, I never expected this film to be science fiction. The posters, promotional art, and even the visuals of the film itself all seem like an everyday setting without anything bizarre. I did expect the same emotional focus that Voices had, and it certainly delivers on that front. For the first few minutes of the movie, my expectations held true. The main character, Hiroki, narrates the opening, looking back at his high school days when he shared two things with his best friend, Takuya. The first was a crush on the same girl in their class, Sayuri. But when he gets to their second common interest, I realized this film was not going quite where I had expected.

Their shared dream was to build a plane that would take them across the border, to the massive tower of Ezo which stretches up into the sky and out of sight. It’s a tower so tall that until the climactic reveal at the end of the film you never see the top. It stretches up like the Tower of Babel, and even in faraway Tokyo the tower can be seen, still looming above everything. It’s a symbol of the characters’ aspirations, and a reminder of the dreams they never realized. Beyond simple symbolism, the tower is also a science lab to research alternate realities; that was when I realized this wasn’t just a love story. It is every bit as fantastical as Voices, taking a scientific concept and combining it with very human emotions to tell an intriguing story.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: The Place Promised In Our Early Days (2004) →

Stephen reviews: Voices of a Distant Star (2002)

Voices of a Distant Star [ほしのこえ, Hoshi no Koe] (2002)
AKA Voices of a Star

Starring Sumi Muto, Chihiro Suzuki, Donna Burke, Mika Shinohara (original version), Makoto Shinkai (original version)

Directed by Makoto Shinkai

It’s hard to find an anime that can truly be called a low-budget film. You can’t grab a camcorder and some like-minded amateur actors and whip something up over a few weekends for a few thousand bucks. Animation is very labor-intensive work that requires some rather specific, and expensive, tools. Few anime justifiable as a film are ever made on a shoestring budget. And then you want one with an English release? Well, that basically leaves you with Voices of a Distant Star.

The entire production was done by Makoto Shinkai over a seven month period. It’s only a 25 minute film, but the amount of work it must have taken for one man to do it all is staggering. He directed it, he animated it (both the CG and hand-drawn elements), he edited it, he wrote it, he did just about everything in it except the acting. Oh, wait, he did that too for an early production version, and one of the DVD features is to watch the film with his original voice work, where he acted opposite his fiancée as the lead. So really the only thing he didn’t do himself was the music.

Continue reading Stephen reviews: Voices of a Distant Star (2002) →

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