Makoto Shinkai can add one more special achievement to his resume that is quite literally out of this world. 

45-year-old director Makoto Shinkai, best known for his animated films bursting with lush visuals, had an asteroid named in his honor earlier this month.

If your immediate reaction is that naming a hunk of rock and metal after someone is not so much of a compliment, then recall the pivotal role that a comet, another type of celestial body, played in Shinkai’s 2016 worldwide hit Your Name. In that sense, the newly christened “55222 Makotoshinkai” asteroid pays homage to both the film and its director.  

▼ The comet is even a prominent focus in promotional images for Your Name.

55522 Makotoshinkai was actually discovered back in 2001 by astronomer Roy A. Tucker at the Goodricke-Piggott Observatory in Arizona, USA. The discoverer of an asteroid has the right to propose a name for it, which must then undergo a lengthy approval process following strict protocol by the International Astronomical Union. Certainly not all proposed names make the final cut, so Tucker must have been incredibly pleased that this one passed the test. Check out his celebratory announcement over Twitter earlier this month:

Shinkai’s asteroid is recorded as being 7.25 kilometers in diameter and is located in the outer main asteroid between Mars and Jupiter. More information about its physical properties and orbital path can be found at NASA’s JET Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology.

Your Name and Shinkai fans took to the net to share their excitement about the asteroid: 

“Not every naming is approved. I’m happy that this one was allowed!”
“Your Name strikes again! Its influence is everywhere…”c“Let’s pray that it won’t come crashing down to Earth like the comet in that story.”
“Before I knew it an anime director was immortalized in space.”
“Why hasn’t someone named an asteroid ‘Namek’ or ‘Vegeta’ yet?”

By the way, this isn’t the first time that Tucker has named an asteroid after a famous Japanese cultural figure. He even appears to be an anime/manga fan himself, as evidenced by this tweet:

The same day that he made the 55222 Makotoshinkai announcement, he also tweeted news about other recently approved asteroid names including ones named after  Godzilla films composer Akira Ifukube, anime and video game  composer Yasuhara Takanashi, author Yukito Ayatsuji,  manga artist Lynn Okamoto, and author Kinoko Nasu.

Source: Yurukuyaru
Featured image: NASA/JET Propulsion Laboratory