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Cultural Critic Hiroki Azuma: Shin Godzilla, your name. Signify End of an Age

posted on by Eric Stimson
"That special otaku aimlessness and hopelessness [has] vanished entirely"

Makoto Shinkai's new film, your name., along with Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi's Shin Godzilla, has been a roaring success at the Japanese box office. But Hiroki Azuma, a cultural critic and developer of the original story for Fractale, sees additional portent behind these recent hits. On September 8 he tweeted a link to an analysis by another critic, Daisuke Watanabe, of your name. from the perspective of bishōjo (pretty girl) games and the sekai-kei genre. (Sekai-kei is a concept Azuma helped define in his books; it refers to stories where the fate of the world or a similarly epic issue hangs on the resolution of one couple's relationship.)

Azuma then went on to tweet his own thoughts:

I completely agree with Watanabe's analysis that the imaginative power of sekai-kei and bishōjo games earned a peculiar national popularity by providing protagonists with satisfying personal lives. But I am not optimistic about what comes next. your name. seemed less like the beginning of an era than the ending of another. To put it simply, watching Shin Godzilla and your name., I felt that the otaku (geek) era had ended. The imaginations of the first-generation Gainax otaku and the second-generation sekai-kei otaku have simultaneously matured and reached personal satisfaction, and that special otaku aimlessness and hopelessness vanished entirely. That might be good and it might be bad. In any case, as someone born in 1971 who's been watching otaku media all my life, I think this year will be looked back on as a turning point, and as I go through life my various emotions intensify.

your name. has also made a deep impression among animators: Yutaka "Yamakan" Yamamoto, director of Fractale, also wrote recently that he "envied" Shinkai after seeing his movie.

Source: Otaku.com; Images from Movie Runner, Real Sound and cakes

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