Is Koe no Katachi better than Kimi no Na wa?

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Koe no Katachi. The #2 anime movie of 2016 is finally available in the west so go watch that before continuing. There aren’t any Kimi no Na wa spoilers. In case you’re still saving yourself for the BD release, you’re good to go.

Firstly, I want to make it clear that I liked Koe no Katachi a lot. It’s just the right amount of story and feels to keep you entertained until the end. It doesn’t get boring and it touches upon some uncommon and heavy social themes not discussed often enough.

Regarding Kimi no Na wa, I’ve seen that movie once at a TOHO theater in Tokyo when it came out in Japan last summer. It blew me away and I want to watch it 10 more times but I won’t be giving in. Need the BD and a 4K TV. Oh, and no, it was/is/will not play in theaters anywhere close to where I live. Such is life in Central Europe.

A few reasons, however, lead me into writing this article;

  • snobs hyping Koe no Katachi up over Kimi no Na wa
  • the Japan Movie Critics Awards
  • a theme in Koe no Katachi handled in a completely incomprehensible manner

Unjust hype

There is nothing wrong with liking Koe no Katachi over Kimi no Na wa. The problem I have with a lot of these people is that they, at the same time, want to discredit Kimi no Na wa as garbage. There is a reason why one movie beat Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi in worldwide gross income and the other wasn’t even remotely close. Can’t we all agree that both are good movies?

Japan Movie Critics Awards

It was announced that Koe no Katachi won Best Animation of the Year Award while Kimi no Na wa’s director Shinkai Makoto won the Best Animation Directors Award.

My criteria for evaluation of a movie’s directing is based on immersion it offers to me. Kimi no Na wa simply did much more for me in this regard than Koe no Katachi so I think that Shinkai absolutely deserves this award.

On the other hand, I don’t think Koe no Katachi wins in animation either. It’s a personal opinion so I won’t argue if you think otherwise but Koe no Katachi is less dynamic and the zoom-blurred edges really didn’t help me giving it a better evaluation. It’s a habit of mine to look at the whole picture and focus on “out-of-focus” things and this blur sucked the same way 3D movies suck because they enforce the focal point while, naturally, you should be able to refocus on anything you want.

If the reason for the animation award to go to Koe no Katachi is simply to avoid having a single title get multiple awards, then I agree. Kimi no Na wa deserves the direction award more, than the animation award.

Relationships of the past

This is my only real gripe I have with Koe no Katachi. Why is it necessary to try and fix broken relationships from childhood? This is a major theme all across Japanese storytelling. The importance of past relationships, childhood friendships and so on and forth.

This is not how the world works. It’s in your best interest, for the sake of your sanity, to break up with people that don’t add value to your life. There is absolutely no need to pretend to be friends with someone you’ve barely seen in the past 5 years. Now go on Facebook and clean up that friend list. If you keep only real friends, the people you occasionally meet IRL and potential business partners (valuable connections), you will be way below 200.

I’ve spend a month and a half in the US around the time of the election last year. Not at hotels/sightseeing but actually living with an upper class family and doing business. I was disgusted to learn how shallow relationships were. People act all chummy on the outside, hugging everyone, acting all interested while in reality they don’t really care or have never met in person before. What the hell is up with that, Americans?

Is Koe no Katachi good because it’s realistic?

To be honest, the movie portrays social problems like bullying and suicide so accurately, you’d wish it’s all just for entertainment’s value. But no, this is all real. There is bullying and people are often taking their own lives as a result of bullying. Especially in Japan, where not many victims are mentally unstable but are simply pushed over the edge by society.

There is no pill or miraculous cure. Step 1 to solving these issues is facing reality. Let’s encourage people to speak up about problems, listen to them, and do whatever we’re capable of to help. Step 2 is punching bullies in the face. Step 3 ???. Step 4, profit.

Better? Nope.

I don’t think Koe no Katachi is better than Kimi no Na wa. I went blind into both movies and I don’t really care much for the production.

Shinkai Makoto never impressed me with direction before, but his art style was always amazing. The first piece to introduce me to him was the opening to Ef — the latter tale visual novel.

Kyoto Animation is a bit weird. They made some good shit like Lucky Star, but they also made a lot of crap (and I will not list what I think of as crap because I will offend too many people). From my experience it’s a hit or miss and I’m glad that Koe no Katachi turned out to be a hit.

At the end of the day, immersion is all that counts for me.