”Shinkai-kun is still young, so that’s why he can make that sort of anime.”

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about just what’s made anime director Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name and Weathering with You such huge hits, and I’ve got a theory: Shinkai’s recent films are successes because they can be highly entertaining to a huge swath of the movie-going audience. The polished visuals are appealing to hard-core anime fans, but the character and costume designs aren’t so outlandishly otaku-trendy as to alienate mainstream viewers. Likewise, the films have compelling supernatural elements, but they’re not pandering power fantasies. The magic is there to lead the characters to emotional discoveries, not vice-versa, so you don’t need to have studied an encyclopedia’s worth of lore and attack names to understand what’s going on.

Give Shinkai an hour and a half or so of your time, and he’ll give you laughs, thrills, mystery, and romance, all wrapped up in a package that looks and sounds great. But you know what he won’t give you? A scene where the female lead gets finger-banged (at the very least figuratively), which is apparently a nigh-unforgivable omission in the eyes of Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino.

Speaking in an interview published in the November 4 edition of Japan’s Weekly Playboy magazine, Tomino gave some of his thoughts on the anime from Shinkai as well as Kyoto Animation, describing the two as sources of anime that are “dominating” the industry, saying:

“I think of them thoroughly as rivals. For people of my generation, you don’t have to make an anime out of stories like theirs, that feel like an autobiographical novel. Especially with Shinkai anime, it’s all about ‘me’ (the main character) and ‘that girl’ (the female lead) reaching out their hands to each other…it’s so long and drawn-out.”

▼ Tomino’s interview

On one hand, a sense of rivalry, even if he’s the only one feeling it, is nothing new for Tomino, who, despite being one of the most influential anime directors ever, is still vexed by his inability to “crush Hayao Miyazaki.” Tomino’s specific beef with Shinkai anime has a rather unexpected taste, though. When the interviewer pointed out that Shinkai’s focus on the love between two people changing the world is a defining trope of anime’s “sekai-kei” genre, which Shinkai’s works are often considered a part of, Tomino responded with:

“Be that as it may, no matter what they do [in Shinkai anime], the main character’s hand never reaches the chick’s (the female lead’s) crotch, so why should they be satisfied?”

However, that’s not to say that Tomino absolutely needs to see Your Name’s Taki and Mitsuha or Weathering with You’s Hodaka and Hina join their predecessors Space Battleship Yamato’s Susumu and Yuki as characters who bone during an anime movie. But if Shinkai’s stars aren’t going to do the deed, Tomino at least wants that lack of physical intimacy to be reflected in their on-screen relationship, going on to say:

“It’s not a satisfying situation, and I want the anime to properly depict that. But hey, Shinkai-kun is still young, so that’s why he can make that sort of anime.”

Setting aside the subtle jab of referring to Shinkai with the diminutive -kun suffix, Tomino seems to be overlooking something from Shinkai’s biggest hit. Your Name‘s plot hinges on its two leads switching bodies, and we’re shown, on multiple occasions, that every time Taki wakes up in Mitsuha’s body, the first thing he does is lovingly fondle her breasts for an extended period of time before getting out of bed.

▼ Trailer for Your Name

It’s also worth noting that while love and longing is a central element in almost all of Shinkai’s works, his films don’t fall 100-percent into the romance category. The lead characters’ relationship usually builds in step with some looming crisis, which comes to a head at roughly the exact moment the two declare their love for each other. Sure, sexual intimacy and compatibility is an important part of a mature romantic connection, but when the fate of the world has just been decided, no one in the theater wants to sit around and watch an awkward denouement where the newly formed couple bickers over how much foreplay is the best amount, or whether they both have the same preference regarding doing the deed at night or in the morning. “The world didn’t end, and the reason why is because these two realize they love each other” is the story Shinkai generally sets out to tell, and the nitty-gritty details of the characters’ sex lives isn’t really something that’s needed, or that there’s time for, in his single-shot movies.

▼ While we’re on the subject, the fact that Shinkai and his wife have a seven-year-old daughter, child actress Chise Niitsu, is pretty solid proof that he understands a thing or two about physical intimacy.

As salty as Tomino may sound, he’s at least willing to acknowledge all that sweet, sweet ticket sale revenue Shinkai’s films produce. “And then [Shinkai] anime go on to make over 10 billion yen at the box office,” he says. “But ‘Wait, isn’t that strange?’ is the question that Gundam Reconguista in G asks in objection.”

For those who’ve forgotten, Gundam Reconguista in G is a Tomino-directed-and-written arm of the Gundam franchise that started out as a TV series in 2014 and was met with a mixture of criticism and indifference from reviewers and audiences, but which is now being reworked as a movie series, with its first installment scheduled to come out on November 29.

Oddly enough, shortly before its premier Tomino boldly asserted that “Preexisting fans of Gundam won’t be able to understand it…I’m not making this for you, so please show it to your children and grandchildren,” and also that “We can’t expect anything from people in their 20s, 30s, or 40s,” so it’s odd to hear him now switch gears and criticize Shinkai and Kyoto Animation, whose works are extremely popular with teens, for telling stories that Tomino claims his (older) generation of anime fans doesn’t feel need to be animated. But hey, if there’s one thing you can expect from the father of modern anime sci-fi war stories, it’s a constant willingness to pick a fight with anyone and everyone, though given Shinkai’s surprisingly sharp comeback capability, he might want to be careful this time.

Source: Twitter/@Meimi1031 via Yaraon via Anime News Network/Kim Morrissy
Top image: YouTube/東宝MOVIEチャンネル
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This article marks the first time Casey has used the words “finger-banged” and “nigh” in the same sentence, and you can celebrate the moment by following him on Twitter.