Global Shinkai Day: revisiting Hoshi no Koe

by dm00

I haven’t watched Hoshi no koe in years — probably not since it first came out, or perhaps after the DVD release. So I took a look at the Crunchyroll offering (making sure to log in, so they’d know that paying members like this sort of thing, and encouraging them to do more of it).

Before, I was so taken by the story that I never even noticed how off his character designs were throughout — not even on model all the time.  They bear a family resemblance to the characteristic designs that are handled more competently in his later films, but here they look primitive, and no match for their setting.

Still, that Shinkai sure knows his hot sky porn.


Not like in the later films, of course, but still hints of what would come.

And the story? Still powerful enough to make up for the off-model characters. Indeed, I found this viewing far more affecting than I remember from the past: already knowing the story adds significance to each hesitation in Mikako’s voice as the friends talk about high school plans, to the headline that reads “faster-than-light communication coming soon”, or the recruiting poster Noboru is standing near when he checks his phone for a message, and then the military cadet’s jacket hanging on his door.

Of course, it may also gain power from its context as the first of a trilogy of films on distance and separation.  Mikako’s anguished look at her cellphone floating out of reach before the leap into hyperspace will be echoed by Takaki watching his letter blow away in the snowstorm or staring into space on a windswept hillside while Kanae loses the resolve to speak to him.

If, like me, you’ve overlooked this film in the excitement over the ones that have followed it, then now is a good time to give it another look.

7 Responses to “Global Shinkai Day: revisiting Hoshi no Koe”

  1. 1 gaguri March 1, 2009 at 2:40 am

    Personally I thought this was his best work. Well, maybe not the best, but certainly my favourite.

  2. 2 someddk power March 1, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Hoshino koe.
    Beautiful visual.

  3. 3 Martin March 1, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Partly due to the length and partly because there are so many little details (like the ones you mention) I’ve rewatched this numerous times. It’s pretty rough around the edges but given the way it was produced that’s forgivable…of course the most important thing is it’s a great story, which never seems to lose its impact for me.

    The DVD has She and Her Cat as a bonus feature too…even shorter still but quite beautiful in its own way. Chobi FTW!

  4. 4 ETERNAL March 1, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    The sky porn is always the superficial reason for me to rewatch a Shinkai film, but really, I should try watching Voices again some time. I rewatched 5cm/s a few months ago and was utterly awestruck, so even if I get half of that reaction from my second time through this one, it’ll be worth it.

  5. 5 Francisco March 5, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    I think that this is one of the best’s works that he has made. And my other favorite is Six Feet Under. Such a beautiful story. 🙂

  6. 7 Shiro, Long Tail's March 9, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    I actually watched this on Crunchyroll as well a little while ago. I can’t say I frequent the site but I saw Makoto Shinkai day on an arbitrary google search and couldn’t pass it up. Plus it was nice to watch a free Shinkai film streamed. I didn’t really notice any discrepancies with the character models at least not as much as Voices of a Distant Star I suppose I was too busy being entranced by the flowing story.

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