With all circumstantial arguments out of the way, Voices of a Distant Star remains above all a sweet, touching little short set to a rather violent and typical anime background.
The first time I watched this I was genuinely surprised by the bitter undertones, and even now it still baffles me how icy this film is below its stylish, warm and fuzzy exterior.
The real-world setting mixed with slight fantasy elements makes the film a bit more accessible compared to Shinkai's earlier films.
Garden of Words is everything you'd expect from a Shinkai film.
For a 10-year old animation film The Place Promised in Our Early Days still looks and feels remarkably fresh.
The good stuff
A little lighter on fantasy compared to Your Name, which isn't that bad really. The animation is stunning, the music (i.e. the J-Pop) an acquired taste and the budding romance pretty much expected. Weathering with You is another great Shinkai film, not his best work but fans won't be disappointed.
That said, there is still plenty to be excited about. Shinkai serves you 116 minutes of visual wonder.
Sweet but sad. A follow-up of Shinkai's very first project, revisiting and expanding on the story of a girl and her cat. While this short is quite light on plot, the drama is touching and cat owners are sure to recognize a thing or two. Not quite as stunning as Shinkai's feature films, but a very sweet and adorable short that is very much on point.