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While others may be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day around this time of the year, anime fans have declared the early spring the moment to express their appreciation of animation filmmaker Shinkai Makoto. This year it’s not just Global Shinkai Day, but Shinkai Weekend.

What better occasion could there be for this post? I have had these musings on my mind for a while already, but this is perfect opportunity to assemble them into a post sooner rather than later.

I should start by saying that, no, no new trailer has been posted. These are reflections on the clip we already saw and (somewhat) picked apart – in this post –, but, taking another, closer look there is more to say. So here we go….

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This is the opening shot of the trailer. If you scrutinise it carefully, other than being able to confirm that we are in Tokyo (a sign says Shibuya, a district in the city), you should be able to spot Takao, the story’s male protagonist:kotonohanoniwa 26

The drawing is not too clear, but the clothes look like the school uniform that he is wearing in other parts of the trailer. The bag also fits as it matches the carry-over-the-shoulder one we see when Takao approaches the park.kotonohanoniwa 27

I also wanted to take a closer look at this image:kotonohanoniwa 8

Originally I thought it depicted the moment Takao is putting the shoes he has made on Yukino’s feet. But this is not actually what it shows – looking carefully, you’ll see that Yukino is standing on something (like a small, wooden board) and that Takao has a pencil in his hand because he is tracing Yukino’s foot to take its measurements. We can match that scene with another shot in the trailer, where it becomes clear that it’s a notebook, not a board, that Takao is using. Also note Yukino’s shoes.kotonohanoniwa 29

Shoes are central to this story, as we already know, so I tracked all the shoes that appear in the trailer (or the ones that Yukino is wearing, at least). There are actually only three (images on the right show the same pair).shoes collage

Pretty obvious that Yukino has a thing for heels, and preferably with a ribbon or strap attached. The crucial question is of course what kind of shoes Takao will be making for her. Will they be similar to the pairs she already owns but specifically and lovingly created for her by hand? Or will he gift her with something different and possibly unique that will lead her to new horizons, perhaps literally, by walking there in these shoes? Yes, I’m thinking about that potential shoe metaphor in the story again. I don’t believe that any of these three pairs depicted is Takao’s creation by the way (certainly not the pink-ribboned one, where a brand name is stamped onto the sole – reminding us also of the level of detail in the animation).

Moving on from shoes to homes: Here, I believe, we are at Yukino’s place.kotonohanoniwa 19

It’s a hunch, but with some support. Firstly, it looks like Yukino is pretty at home in this kitchen (though she has dazed expression in this shot). She’s confidently preparing tea…

…which Takao drinks.kotonohanoniwa 20

Note the cups: one with a yellow, one with a green flower, but the same design. They are part of a set, for sure, thus very likely to be in the same home. The other fact is that these images look like they are from a flat, contrasting with the one we have seen of Takao’s shoe-making room, which is in very traditional Japanese style and fits better into a house than an apartment. kotonohanoniwa 2

We also have images of an outdoor staircase, suggesting that one of them lives in a block of flats…kotonohanoniwa 21

…and with Takao coming running to Yukino, it’s yet another hint that he lives in a traditional house, while she resides in this little flat. This staircase scene, by the way, looks rather climactic to me, as if Takao is upset and confronting Yukino.

But before we jump too far ahead, let’s go back to the image of Takao drinking tea.

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Note the plants in the background.The two small plants in the plastic bags have brown, dried-out leaves, suggesting that they have not been taken care of properly. Somehow that seems more like Yukino (regretting something, neglecting herself) than Takao (focused in his dedicated shoemaking, and carefully taking care of things). Note also the band-aid on Takao’s cheek – a band-aid (plaster… sorry, forgot that there is a different British word) that multiplies in number in the staircase shot. Are these band-aids covering small injuries? From the shoemaking? Or did he sustain the injuries elsewhere, from a physical altercation perhaps? That last thought isn’t totally out of the question, because we have this scene:kotonohanoniwa 18

It’s a shot that is notable for another reason as well, in fact, within the context of the trailer I think it’s one of the most striking moments: it is the only one that doesn’t show the garden and/or Takao and Yukino, but it features other characters. We have stepped out of Takao and Yukino’s little world, to something outside of its barriers. With them meeting, coincidentally, only when it rains, there is even more a separation for what they share versus the real world, where others exist, interact with your reality and perhaps even interfere. Indeed, this scene (which interestingly features sunlight, not rain) certainly looks like some sort of interference, Takao clashing with what could be his classmates. It could be a schoolgirl that has a crush on him but that he rebuffs, but with some further disagreements following (perhaps she meddles with his affairs? Badmouthes Yukino?), hence leading to this moment in which Takao seems to be slapping the girl. I’m guessing here, of course, and may be completely off – but it will be fun to see which of my projections will turn out to be true, and which not.

Beyond this, just some pretty shots I still wanted to highlight, like this garden scene with great camera movement (you’ll have to watch the trailer to see what I mean):

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Plus this:kotonohanoniwa 23

It’s just rain falling and a bit of light, but, oh so pretty! Many people would probably not even blink at a scene like this in real life, but Shinkai definitely has an eye for the tiny, everyday details that can be incredibly beautiful if we only take the time to look.

Bonus Bits:

  • Global Shinkai Weekend at Crunchyroll, with Shinkai’s films being available for online streaming to all members this weekend.

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