Voices of a Distant Star / She and Her Cat Review

voices of a distant star

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Trailer:

Summary:

Two high school students in a relationship are separated when one has to go away for space military duty. They send text messages to each other, even as one fades farther away in outer space.

Impressions:

Two high school students in a relationship are separated when one has to go away for space military duty. They send text messages to each other, even as one fades farther away in outer space.

I wasn’t all that enchanted by the plot summary, and this was proved right as I watched the movie. Unfortunately, 30 minutes is not much time to create a deep story. I didn’t connect with the characters and felt nothing for them. In the end, I felt this was more a visual demonstration than a coherent narrative.

For one, I am usually annoyed when I get into stories with adolescents joining military service and piloting mechas in important battles. It just isn’t something I can believe or take seriously, especially if there isn’t something else (like an attractive female protagonist) to draw my attention away from it. The whole setup makes no sense when taken logically. I mean putting your country in the hands of immature students? Aren’t their trauma or maturity concerns here? What makes teenagers so special? Where are the able-bodied men? I know this is fantasy, but it is a pet peeve of mine. I went with it in this case because the movie was fairly short.

The animation did not impress me, even if this did come out seven years ago. I found other movies that provided much better animation (Metropolis, Cowboy Bebop, etc.) and came out near the same time. Now, when I consider the circumstances, this movie is a feat. Shinkai wrote, directed, and created the movie all on his Macintosh computer (source). However, the animation of the main characters was inconsistent, especially their faces. The two people looked more like sketches than a complete movie production. The mechas was obviously CG, and they didn’t clash that well with the 2-D. I could not tell what was happening during any of the mecha fights, at least not until the last one. The backgrounds were well done though. They had a very realistic and polished looked to them.

The story made me roll my eyes more than once. I mean the main character decides to wait for the female character? He doesn’t move on, even though there is no chance he will see her again? It makes no sense to me. I believe I get the final message that the two’s thoughts can sort of transcend space or their love / connection allows for them to do that, but I found myself constantly watching the timer to see how long there was left in the film. This is usually a bad sign.

I didn’t find anything memorable about the music. The ending theme was decent, fitting for the majestic realm of space and demonstrating the distance between the two. The Engrish (?) wasn’t that bad either.

Overall Score: 6.5 / 10 (Almost Average)

She and Her Cat


I was more entertained by She and Her Cat. The story is at most a five-minute short film. Even though all it does is chronicle a few moments in the life of a cat and his owner, it did so in a straightforward manner. Focus on each individual moment was kept short, which kept my short attention span satiated. Even though there was little to no animation, the scenes presented were decent looking. The cat was adorable (even though he stuck out because he looked more like a stuffed animal).  We see in the end that even with the ups and downs of life, both characters are happy living.

Overall Score: 8 / 10 (Good)

As such, I find it a problem when a short film that came with the DVD is more entertaining than the main feature itself. However, Shinkai’s next work, The Place Promised in Our Early Days looks much more promising. It appears to be a full-fledged movie (over 90 minutes long) with much higher production values, so I will carry fairly higher expectations into that film.

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