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Your Name Director Makoto Shinkai’s Early Work Will Find a Wider Western Audience

The director, who garnered international acclaim for Your Name and Weathering with You, will have four films distributed by GKIDS.

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A press still from Children Who Chase Lost Voices depicting a fantasy landscape.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices
Image: GKIDS

Film producer and distributor GKIDS has bulked out its already significant animated offerings with four early films by acclaimed filmmaker Makoto Shinkai. Shinkai has helmed award-winning films like Your Name (2016) and Weathering With You (2020), both of which firmly established him as an outstanding international name in the industry.

GKIDS previously handled distribution rights for Weathering With You, which Shinkai also wrote; it’s about a boy who runs away from his rural home to Tokyo and makes friends with a girl who has the power to control the weather. The film set box office records and was Japan’s entry for the Academy Awards. All four of Shinkai’s films that have just come under the GKIDS umbrella are early works, which include the short film Voices of a Distant Star (2002); Shinkai’s feature directorial debut, The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004); 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007); and Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011).


“We are thrilled to represent these vital early films from Makoto Shinkai,” GKIDS president David Jesteadt said in a press release. “They display the astounding visuals and emotional stories of longing and human connection that have made him one of the most exciting and important directors in animation today, and we look forward to reintroducing them to fans old and new.” The press release also notes that the films “will be released on home entertainment platforms by GKIDS later this year, featuring both their original Japanese language versions as well as English dubbed versions.”

Shinkai’s work is absolutely in good hands here, seeing as how GKIDS is becoming one of the go-to Western distributors for top-of-the-line, standalone animation films, making global animation accessible to international audiences. From Japan to Ireland, the company has presented favorites from Studio Ghibli as well as critical darlings like Wolfwalkers, The Secret of Kells, and The Breadwinner. Its recent offerings have included Mamoru Hasoda’s Belle (which I saw twice, I loved it that much) and Promare, an absolutely underrated banger of a film out of Studio Trigger, which developed the anime sleeper hit Kill La Kill. GKIDS also handles the rights for Neon Genesis Evangelion, which is a must-watch for any anime fan.


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