Welcome to 2018! We here at Culture Toronto would like to welcome you to an exciting new year of events and viewings as we continue to share the very best anime has to offer to our amazing audiences through Foolish for Ghibli events.
In my last article I went over some of the core common ground between the films of our last Double Feature: Ponyo and Princess Mononoke. In February we'll be showcasing Kiki's Delivery service and Your Name back to back. This will mark a new endeavour for us as Your Name will be the first film we show which was not made by studio Ghibli.
Produced by CoMix Wave Films and written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, Your Name released in 2016 was an instant hit. The internet was positively ecstatic in its praise for both the film and its creator with many branding Shinkai as the next Miyazaki despite Shinkai's protests to the compliment. At 44 years old Shinkai already has several film credits to his name and this year's Your Name broke records in Japan upon its release becoming one of the most popular and critically acclaimed works since Spirited Away. Your Name is a staggeringly good film and it is with pride that we at Culture Toronto will be presenting it to our audience's pleasure at our next Double Feature. The combination of time bending with gender bending is one that is irresistible and hilarious when seen in a group.
We decided to pair the film with Kiki's Delivery Service. At first glance this may seem an odd choice.
The films clearly have very little in common in terms of their theme, scope, presentation or ideas. Truthfully, that is correct. As films there is very little overlap between these works. What joins them in commonality is what they have done for animation and their impact within a wider cultural sphere.
So where's the connection?
Kiki's Delivery Service was released in 1989 to widespread popularity in Japan but North America didn't get an official dub release until 1998. This is because for decades people were unsure what to make of Japanese animation. Various films and shows had been released in North America with mixed audience results and in the commercialization heyday that was the 80's and 90's if it wasn't getting kids to buy toys or parents to rent or buy, it was tossed aside. Akira was popular with niche audiences but the idea of animated features of matching quality to live action films was an alien concept. Toy Story had started to break this mould with its 1995 release but it would be years still before Pixar and Dreamworks really hit their stride. Into this came Kiki's Delivery Service and really for the first time was Studio Ghibli put on the map for North American audiences.
So where's the connection? The connection is within the realm of discovery for a younger generation. I was only 10 years old when Kiki's Delivery Service was released in North America and for me it was like an awakening. This film was beyond mesmerizing and opened the doors of the very best of Japanese Animation to a generation beyond just what was marketable. Twenty Years later we are seeing another generational awakening happen around Your Name. A whole other generation is waking up to the very best Japan has to offer in its animation for the first time. Whether through articles or recommendations a new group of youngsters are expanding their limits and it just seems apt to share one generation's entry into this art from, with another.