Cinema goers across the world can’t seem to get enough of Makoto Shinkai’s your name., to the point that even the director’s sick of hearing about it now. It’s dominated the box office week to week in Japan, and arrived to equal fervour in South Korea this month. But on the industry side, Shinkai’s contemporaries have been somewhat less forthcoming with the rave reviews, and programming director of the Tokyo International Film Festival, Yoshihiko “Yoshi” Yatabe, feels there’s been more than enough of the movie’s prominent tropes.

Mentioning not only your name. but A Silent Voice and Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni, all of which were on the bill at last year’s festival, Yatabe said he’s tired of “schoolgirls and time slips”. He said too many anime movies rely on “blue summer skies, fluffy clouds, and sailor suits” to sustain their imagery. Don’t get him wrong, Yatabe says he considers your name.  a wonderful film, but he thinks that in comparison with animated works being produced overseas, these tropes could come off more childish than anything else.

Positive reception of similar overseas animations in Japan is not nearly as common as anime being received well worldwide, and Yatabe wants more foreign work to be recognised by the TIFF. General opinion is stacked against him though, as the anime market shows “little interest in foreign animation”. One of the key reasons is simply an overload of material to choose from, and with the annual animated film output more than doubling in the last decade, that’s hardly a surprise.

As a result, animation fans in Japan are more focussed on their domestic blockbusters, and the festival scene reflects this attitude. Over 150 films from around the world screened at TIFF 2016, including recent hit flicks and digitally restored classics, but as far as animations went, all of them were Japanese in origin.

Here at the blog, we love the tropes as part of the anime experience, but we will concede that cute schoolgirls and accidents in time have become overbearing presences. It makes you wonder, what with anime-inspired shows like RWBY completing the circle by taking root in Japan, why can’t the inspiration come from both directions? After all, in any creative process, by closing yourself off to creations outside your medium, your own work will only start to stagnate.



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6 Comments on "Film festival director sick of your name’s “schoolgirls and time slips”"

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Aw, that was pretty mean of him to say it like that tho :/
I haven’t seen it yet, but to just dismiss something because it has hs girls and time slips… How rude sigh.
I feel like there’s enough space for everything so i hope this doesn’t cause some backlash towards one type of animation all over again ORZ

Elisabeth O'Neill

It was a little, I can see where he’s coming from though. You end up with a lack of inspiration when you’re seeing and relying on the same imagery over and over again. He wasn’t commenting on your name specifically, but how many anime films there are that use the same themes. It’s getting to the point where the medium is stuck in a creative rut.

You’re right though, there is still room for schoolgirls and time slips in anime. It would be ridiculous to expect people to stop using them in anime altogether.


Sure, if anime was just anime schoolgirls and time-slips I’d understand, but there’s so much more than that. I guess he means in terms of getting super popular like Your Name did? Which I haven’t seen yet, but still.
I’m all for them to try new stuff out, but you can’t also restrict what people are going to use just because it’s popular, that’s stifling creativity in the end too :/


Anime sometimes is a weird mix between entertainment (appealing to audiences just by tropes) and story-telling but your name is a perfect combination of the two. I really don’t get the criticisms anime gets for being trope-y: it is amazing when it gets decorated by good story telling and tropes help in solid character writing.
Or maybe people are just jealous.

Elisabeth O'Neill

Exactly, it shouldn’t be put down because of a couple of elements in the story. It is how the writer and director have mastered their storytelling that matters most.


Another salty director