GKIDS Acquires N. American Rights to 4 Makoto Shinkai Films | Cafe Talk

Hey all!

Between all the EVERYDAY EVA posts and BTS PTD ON STAGE in Seoul tweets, GKIDS has made another surprising move in the licensing and distribution world of anime.

Just today they announced they announced the acquisition of 4 films by Makoto Shinkai: Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, 5 Centimeters Per Second, and Children Who Chase Lost Voices. This means that all of Shinkai’s major films except for Your Name. (Funimation) and The Garden of Words (Sentai Filmworks) have been licensed by GKIDS. And all of them will be DUBBED on Blu-ray!


“We are thrilled to represent these vital early films from Makoto Shinkai,” said GKIDS’ President David Jesteadt. “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.”

From GKIDS Official Website—read the rest here!

I’m still reeling from this announcement. WOW. That means they currently release:

  • All Studio Ghibli titles
  • Makoto Shinkai (minus those two)
  • Mamoru Hosoda (split w/Funi)
  • Satoshi Kon (split w/ ElevenArts)
  • Masaaki Yuasa (all?)
  • Hideaki Anno’s NGE & EOE 🤯

Given their current trajectory, I predict that in the next couple years, GKIDS will probably announce acquisition for:

  • Anno’s Rebuild of Evangelion
  • Hosoda’s first four films (from Funi)

Annnd, if I can strike out on a limb:

  • Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell
  • Kenji Kamiyama’s GitS SAC

Regardless of what they manage to acquire, I’m amazed GKIDS is always so thorough and elegant about the whole process. I imagine licensing wars get ugly between companies, so for them to proceed with such refined marketing, wide access theatrical screenings, & affordable physical releases is beyond me.

Now, I know next to nothing about how the industry works. But what I DO know is that GKIDS is tackling classic and popular anime titles, most of which were in license purgatory or without an official Blu-ray release for the longest time. Plus they DUB everything. 😩👏

Dubbing is so important because it helps with global outreach. If you like dubs, awesome! Otherwise, you get you get your fave anime films in hi-def. In retrospect, the fact that they acquired BOTH dubs for Neon Genesis Evangelion shows just how much the fans matter to them.

I foresee GKIDS acquiring most if not all of the major works of big-name anime directors even from other companies that have already released their stuff. Discotek and Sentai only just recently put out their Shinkai Blu-rays—Funi’s hold on Hosoda’s catalog is probably next.

And I think this is a great thing. It means less work their team had to do in terms of lending dubs to releases. Plus, Funi is one of those companies that just produces quality work, especially when it comes to art-house films. 👏

The benefit of operating and releasing all of these films under one label also makes it easier for fans like myself to own it all in nice, consistent packaging. As a collector, I couldn’t be happier with what GKIDS is doing for the anime industry right now!

I’ve been a Shinkai fan for as long as I’ve been watching anime, so I just had to share this HUGE news on the blog. Absolutely incredible. I’ve written over 10k words on his works, and to see them all officially licensed now makes my heart so full. Here, have a smiling Kiki 🙂

What are your thoughts on GKIDS and this license announcement? Do you enjoy Shinkai films as much as I do? Please feel free to share any thoughts in the comments below!

– Takuto

GKIDS Neon Genesis Evangelion Ultimate Edition Blu-ray Unboxing

EVANGELION IN ITS ULTIMATE FORM 🚨

Hey guys! Super excited to share this unboxing video with you all! This is the highly discussed (and much celebrated) Neon Genesis Evangelion Ultimate Edition Blu-ray from GKIDS. Also included in this vid is a comparison with the Collector’s Edition Blu-ray that GKIDS also released. We’ll be flipping through every single page together, so grab some coffee and let’s talk about Eva~!

Also, sorry this was so late!! I literally recorded it January 31 but didn’t want to upload it until I edited out all the times I said “uh” and “um,” which was an embarrassing amount. So, enjoy this mostly “um”-free unboxing vid from me!

Interested in more anime, manga, or K-pop content? Subscribe to stick around 🙏

Thanks for watching~!

– Takuto

STUDIO PONOC’s Modest Heroes (& Tomorrow’s Leaves) || Summer Film Spotlight #8

CELEBRATING STUDIO PONOC 🌱

Hey guys! Welcome to the eighth Summer Film Spotlight! Today we are taking a look at STUDIO PONOC’s 2018 film Modest Heroes, which was released by GKIDS. The film is actually comprised of three short films—“Kanini & Kanino,” “Life Ain’t Gonna Lose,” “ and “Invisible”—each of which are about 15 minutes in length and focus on the different heroes we may encounter in our daily lives.

I hope you’ll continue to join us on this summer journey through film. See you next Saturday with another Summer Anime Film Spotlight!

Interested in more anime, manga, or K-pop content? Subscribe to stick around 🙏

Thanks for watching~!

– Takuto

Ride Your Wave || Summer Film Spotlight #5

SUMMER ROMANCE IS HERE 🏄‍♀️💙🏄‍♂️

Hey guys! Welcome to the fifth Summer Film Spotlight! Today we are celebrating GKIDS’s beautiful dubbed Blu-ray release of Masaaki Yuasa’s Ride Your Wave. This 2019 romance drama film tests the effects of grief and mourning on the human heart with the relationship between summertime lovers Hinako and Minato. Themes of acceptance, friendship, and self-discovery also make waves in the lives of those deeply impacted by tragic loss. 🧡

I hope you’ll continue to join us on this summer journey through film. See you next Saturday with another Summer Anime Film Spotlight!

Interested in more anime, manga, or K-pop content? Subscribe to stick around 🙏

Thanks for watching~!

– Takuto

Children of the Sea 🐋 || Summer Film Spotlight #4

MYSTERIES OF THE SEA 🐠🐋🐠

Hey guys! Welcome to the fourth Summer Film Spotlight! Today we are celebrating GKIDS’s beautiful dubbed Blu-ray release of Ayumu Watanabe’s Children of the Sea. This 2019 film adaptation of Daisuke Igarashi’s famed manga explores the fascinating relationship between nature and the human mind. Contemplated is the relativity of existence, and how we’re not so different from the stars shining above us—or the creatures lurking deep below the ocean’s depths.

I hope you’ll continue to join us on this summer journey through film. See you next Saturday with another Summer Anime Film Spotlight!

Interested in more anime, manga, or K-pop content? Subscribe to stick around 🙏

Thanks for watching~!

– Takuto

Weathering With You – Taking a Chance on Love || Review

A brief spoiler-free review of the 2019 anime original film “Weathering With You” or “Tenki no Ko,” animated by CoMix Wave Films, and directed by Makoto Shinkai.

hodaka in the rain


Fate Brews a Storm

The rain hasn’t let up on Tokyo for weeks, and it doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon. It’s an unusually long rainy season, and the endless showers have started to dampen the lives of those residing in the city, including runaway high school student Hodaka Morishima. He has no money or place to stay in Tokyo right now, but fate delivers him to a writing gig at a small-time journaling outlet helmed by the unkempt and scruffy Keisuke Suga. While he may not be living the Tokyo dream, Suga’s beautiful assistant Natsuki makes the crammed office feel like home.

Also struggling under the dreary Tokyo skies is the orphaned Hina Amano, who is doing all she can to find work to financially support herself and her younger brother Nagi. When Hodaka recognizes Hina as the girl who offered him free food during his first days in the city, he attempts to rescue her from shady men in suits. In their fleeting escape, Hodaka discovers Hina’s bizarre power to call out the sun whenever she prays for it. Seeing potential in Hina’s supernatural gift, Hodaka helps Hina become a “sunshine girl”—someone who can part the clouds for people when they need it the most.

Under thunderous skies and pounding rain, fate intertwines two young lives as they are forced to dig deep within themselves to try to find their own purpose in life. But while the miraculous sunshine girl is able to bring smiles to those she helps, all gifts come with a price—and what is graciously given by the elements can just as easily be taken back.

the morning sun

Visionary director Makoto Shinkai is back with another beautiful fantasy romance film that perfectly balances the daily trivialities of a slice-of-life drama with the more sincere and heartfelt emotions that we all know human relationships bring to the table. While the plot is simple in the grand scheme of things, parts of the middle (and especially the road to the end) feel somewhat disjointed. Whereas Shinkai’s other films typically feature a shocking twist that unexpectedly plays on one’s expectations (yet still directly ties to the punchline), I felt like I was just watching a sitcom of these characters’ lives with no real end goal in mind.

That’s not such a bad thing, however, as it allowed me to connect with these characters more than I have with any other Shinkai film cast, especially some of the secondary characters. And yes, while somewhat divisive, the film’s plot twists will shake up your viewing experience. Although the film lacks some of the logical build-up necessary to pull off a truly astonishing finale, emotions still run high in this story about throwing caution to the wind and taking a chance on love.

sunshine prayer

Shinkai’s Most Personable Cast

I said this about Your Name., but it would seem that with every film he makes, Shinkai gets better and better about attaching more than just spontaneous feelings and circumstantial likeness to his characters. Whether watching these Hodaka, Hina, and Nagi channeling the sun’s energy for money or following Hodaka and Natsuki as they chase down urban legend sightings, I only think, “Wow, what an incredible waste of time.” Yet, on the other hand . . .

It looks like they’re having so much fun.

When I mention above that I felt like I was watching a comedic sitcom for the earlier half of the film, I mean that I could watch these kids running around Tokyo with the wind against their backs for an entire series. Through hard work and happenstance, Hodaka quickly realizes that living the “best Tokyo life” doesn’t come from how you spend it—it’s who you decide to spend it with that makes it fulfilling. And I think we lucked out with just the kind of cast you’d want to spend part of your life with.

nagi hina hodaka

Hodaka and Hina stand for so much more than young love and determination—they represent the adversity faced by youth poverty, the ones the world left behind as it continued to spin round and round. As the rain only continues to pound on poor Hodaka’s shoulders, I can’t stress enough how central this theme is to the film. The resilience he develops thanks to his newfound Tokyo friends allows him to transform into an admirable character who can make one of the toughest decisions imaginable. Even if the whole world was against him, Hodaka draws from his own experiences and judgments to challenge the very heavens above him, and I think that’s a fantastic message for today’s youth who are growing up in a world where the deck seems stacked no matter where we go.

Having Hina, Nagi, and Natsuki by his side are just about the best companions Hodaka can ask for. Hina’s hardworking spirit and natural optimism show Hodaka that people his own age also going through dark times can not only survive but blossom on their own. Nagi’s charm and whimsy reveal a hidden wisdom as he is able to support his sister in a way that few others could. Natsuki may seem like your token “hot biker chick,” but really, she’s trying just as hard as anyone else to pull her life together and find her own path in this giant metropolis. And Mr. Suga may be the sketchiest side protagonist I’ve ever seen, but even he’s got ones he wants to protect from life’s downpour of troubles. As always with Shinkai, friends and family are just as essential to life as love itself, and that sentiment echoes in this fun, endearing cast.

family

“I Can’t Believe it Got Prettier”

Those were my immediate thoughts when watching the opening sequence alone. Sprawling cityscapes, dazzling lighting, majestic skies of clouds, and painstakingly delicate attention to detail make this CoMix Wave Films’ prettiest production to date. If you can’t vibe with the story or characters for whatever reason, you can always rely on the visuals in a Shinkai movie to be nothing short of stellar. I know he preaches about expanding past the achievements of Miyazaki and Ghibli, but honestly, I’ve always preferred Shinkai’s aesthetic when it comes to portraying reality in fiction. And he’s only. Gotten. Better.

I haven’t even praised the RIDICULOUS level of beauty the rain is animated in, cause WOW, that’s where the money’s at. I can’t even begin to imagine the sheer amount of effort and work the staff poured into making every single drop sparkle and shine as it would in real life—no, calling what I saw would only disgrace such beauty. This looks BETTER than real rain, as does everything else in Shinkai’s astonishing vision of Tokyo on a rainy day. For any architecture junkies out there (like myself), you’ll also be pleased to find a copious amount of cinematic cityscape shots and wide panoramic skies.

tenki no ko tokyo

A New Soundtrack to Love

Japanese rock group Radwimps is back to produce the soundtrack for Weathering With You, and man, these guys never miss a beat. The OST ranges from mystical harp expressions to touching piano themes, mixed in with some silly or suspenseful tracks to balance out the film. It’s crazy how well the music fits with the emotional roller coaster of the story! Truly, from the thunderous beat of the rain to the climactic drop of Radwimps’ own vocal tracks, this is outstanding sound direction.

Speaking of those vocal tracks, we are blessed with five new Radwimps songs to enjoy on endless repeat. “Voice of Wind” opens with loud, uplifting, and freeing country vibes. “Celebration” (feat. Toko Miura) serves as a wonderful transition to showcase Hodaka’s exciting adventures in Tokyo. Toko Miura comes back for “Grand Escape,” the trailer piece that guarantees to break hearts during the exciting free-falling finale with its chorus of chanting. “We’ll Be Alright” rounds out the film on a high note, if not a bittersweet ballad. And lastly, “Is There Still Anything That Love Can Do?” doubles as the catchy, emotionally stirring main theme and the film’s feature credit song. Seeing as how the music may have inspired much of the story itself, it’s no wonder that Radwimps leads the film with fervor and a hearty sense of lyrical direction.

soundtrack

No More Regrets

Known for portraying the messiness and longing often felt between two people, Weathering With You continues to deliver messages of young love, purpose, and connection that are iconic to Shinkai’s style while also appealing to larger issues than simply romance and recklessness in youth. These include impoverishment, climate change, the impact of weather in our daily lives, and the challenges thrust upon youth on by previous generations. But unlike Your Name.‘s focus on regret for missed opportunities, Weathering With You emphasizes the power of taking action for yourself, even if it’s not what others may want. In a world rocked by rapidly changing climate, it’s up to the young to decide where we go from here.

As he has always done, Shinkai portrays his lessons on regret in relationships through his breathtaking works, and Weathering With You is no exception. If anything, Weathering With You offers more than most of his other films can compete with—including the masterpiece Your Name.—by opening the conversation to how our personal relationships can make waves, affecting other’s relationships and the cascade of lives that follow. Our attitudes, our feelings, and our actions are irrevocably connected, much like the ripples of a raindrop splashing on a puddle—or the radiant warmth of the sun that shines when the clouds finally part after a long day’s rain. 

Even in disaster, Makoto Shinkai’s direction, visual aesthetic, and willingness to jump off the deep end make this film a breathtaking experience from its humble beginning to its unpredictable ending. Weathering With You was nothing like I expected it’d be, but I am so, so glad that it exists.

the sunshine girl


I want you more than any blue sky. — Hodaka Morishima


Afterword

This is a film every anime fan should see—it’s already established that much for itself. Regardless of whether you prefer Your Name. to this or vice versa, the fact remains that Shinkai is a visionary director who helms a team of artists and animators that deserve to be seen on the big screen. WATCH THIS MOVIE if you can, and if it’s not showing near you, I implore you to consider booking a day off for a road-trip. As someone who looks up to Makoto Shinkai and his work for creative inspiration in my own life, it’s no surprise that 2019’s Weathering With You is certified a “Cafe Mocha” film, a rating only for the best and brightest!

Did you make your way down to the theater to check out Weathering With You? If you did, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the film! What did you like most about it? What did you dislike? I’m all ears, always. ‘Till next time, everyone!

– Takuto, your host