Makoto Shinkai | Biography 2021

Quick Wiki

  • Full Name Makoto Shinkai
  • Occupation Animator, Film-maker, Manga Artist
  • Nationality Japan
  • Birthplace Nagano Prefecture, Japan
  • Birth Date Feb 09, 1973
  • Age 51 Years, 2 Months
  • Orignally Makoto Niitsu
Creator of the feature-length animated movie, 'Your Name'

Makoto Shinkai | Biography 2021

Shinkai's Anime Feature Directorial Debut Was 'The Place Promised in Our Early Days' in 2004

'Your Name' was the biggest hit of Makoto Shinkai. The theatrical feature-length animated film is a romantic fantasy drama based on his novel of the same name. The film won multiple awards, including the 'Award of the Japanese Academy' for 'Best Screenplay and the 'Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award' for 'Best Animation.' Released in 2016, 'Your Name' was a huge commercial success earning over 24.5 billion yen. By 2017, it was the highest-grossing anime film of all time, winning over Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away. As of May 2021, 'Your Name' was the second-highest-grossing anime movie of all time, according to Game Rant. The film was also ranked as the No. 1 body-swap film by IMDb in December 2020.

Makoto Shinkai is best known as the director of the hit animated romantic fantasy movie Your Name (2016).

Who is Makoto Shinkai?

Makoto Shinkai is a Japanese manga artist, animator, screenwriter, director, and cinematographer. He usually develops and writes stories in his animes, directs, and leads cinematography input by himself.

Shinkai released his first anime, She and Her Cat, a five-minute short animated video in 1999. He would later create popular anime movies such as Voices of a Distant Star (2002), The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004), 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007), Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011), and The Garden of Words (2013).

In 2016, he released his biggest hit, Your Name, which was ranked as No. 1 body-swap film by IMDb. He was listed on '10 Animators to Watch in 2016' by Variety the same year. In 2017, Your Name became the highest-grossing anime movie of all time, besting Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away. As of May 2021, Your Name is the second-highest-grossing anime movie of all time, according to Game Rant. Shinkai released another hit feature anime Weathering With You, in 2019.

In 2012, the Cabinet Secretariat's National Policy Unit sent him a 'Letter of Appreciation' stating him as one of the "Global Messengers of Japan."

Early Life and Education

Makoto Niitsu, also known as Makoto Shinkai, was born on F9 February 1973, in Koumi, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. Since his childhood, Shinkai has been a cat person, and he keeps raising cats at all stages of his life. "Ever since I was a child I always had cats with me. I'm from the Nagano prefecture, and while living there I had cats, and after I came to Tokyo I also picked up some strays and started raising them. So I definitely always had cats with me," he explains his fondness for cats

Shinkai's passion for creating manga started in middle school, and it continued during his days at the university. He studied Japanese literature at Chuo University in Hachioji, Japan. At Chuo, he was a member of the juvenile literature club, and he drew picture books for children. In March 1996, Shinkai graduated from the Faculty of Letters, Chuo University.

Early Career

After graduation, Shinkai started working at the video game company Falcom. During his five years at Falcom, he worked as an artist, making video clips for games and web designing for Falcom's games. His time at Falcom would influence his later movie career. He met the composer Tenmon at Falcom, who later provided music scores in most of his films.

Getting into Sole Animation Works

Shinkai was also involved in creating self-produced animations while working at Falcom. In 1999, he entered the animation world by releasing his five-minute short video movie, She and Her Cat, a story about a male cat adopted by a young woman on a rainy day told from the cat's perspective. This short video animation created in monochrome earned him the Grand Prize' at the '12th DoGA CG Animation contest in 2000.

'Voices of a Distant Star'

Later, he decided to do solo animation works. In 2001, Shinkai (then aged 28) quit his job at Falcom to work for the ambitious project Voices of a Distant Star. It was a 25-minute digital animation short film project in which he served as a screenwriter, animator, director, and voice actor.

The movie was about two middle school students, Mikako Nagamine and Noboru Terao, who are close friends and participate in the same club activities. In the summer of 2046, Nagamine informs Terao that she has been selected as a select member of the United Nations Space Army. Mikakothen then departs the planet in the winter of 2047, while Terao continues his education in Japan. Later, the two-character try to communicate via mobile mail despite being separated by space. However, the Lysithea spaceship carrying Nagamine travels further into the solar system and makes it longer for them to receive each other's messages.

The unfolding events annoy Terao on Earth and he accepts the reality that he will have to wait for Mikako's emails. As time passes, the Lysithea fleet approaches a time warp causing Mikako and Noboru to become painfully aware of the time gap that separates them.

The animation received rave reviews and was eventually released in North America by ADV Films in 2002.

In an interview with Anime News Network in August 2011, Shinkai said, "I debuted with Voices of a Distant Star, but I'm not sure if I could call that 'directing,' since I made it by myself. It's my work, so yes, I was called 'director.' But I didn't really understand what 'directing' was at the time. All the works after that involved working with other people in order to make the animation come out...but still, I wasn't sure about what "directing" meant. I drew the pictures myself, and directed others in certain ways...but it's been a learning process."

Rise to Fame with ‘ The Place Promised in our Early Days’

In 2004, Shinkai made the anime feature directorial debut with a 90-minute animation titled The Place Promised in Our Early Days. It was released across Japan on November 20, 2004, and was his second anime movie, following his first work Voices of a Distant Star.

This movie is also known as Shinkai’s first full-length anime made with his crew, as his first anime movie was a short story ('Voices of a Distant Star') made almost entirely by himself. The narratives of his later animes, such as Weathering with You and Your Name, were based on his earlier works in which he would base the plot on the main protagonist's race to accomplish aspirations, even if it meant sacrificing someone or the entire universe.


The story of this movie opens to an alternate history where Japan has been partitioned and conquered by two opposing countries after the second world war. The UNION has seized Hokkaido, while Honshu and the other southern islands have been occupied by the United States. The main characters, Hiroki, Takuya, and Sayuri are three young boys and a girl from Aomori, which is Honshu's closest province to Hokkaido.

These three young classmates are enthralled by the massive, yet enigmatic tower seen across the Tsugaru Strait, and they have pledged that one day they will build and fly an aircraft to the tower and solve the riddle of its existence. However, after Sayuri's disappearance, their idea is shelved. Three years later, Hiroki discovers that Sayuri has been in a coma for three years and he then asks Takuya to assist him in finding a way to bring her back to life. What they don't realize is that Sayuri's unconsciousness is tied to the UNION tower's secrets and the plot follows their adventure.

In addition to receiving critical acclaim, the anime won many honors, including the '59th Mainichi Film Concours' for 'Best Animation Film,' beating Howl's Moving Castle. The movie was also nominated during the 2005 Shanghai International Film Festival  for ‘Asian New Talent Award - Best Film.'

‘5 centimeters Per Second’

After that in 2007, Shinkai's another masterpiece, a 63-minute romantic drama anime film 5 Centimeters Per Second, was premiered on March 3. It was a story about long-distance relationships' mundane and harsh reality. The anime consisted of three interconnected short stories titled ‘Cherry Blossom’, ‘Cosmonaut’, and ‘5 Centimeters Per Second’ that focused on the main plotlines, primarily centering on a young man named Takaki.

The story starts when Takaki and Akari became great friends after moving to the same primary school. But their lives are turned upside down when both of their families are forced to relocate. Then later, Takaki is about to reunite with Akari after a year, and his thoughts of the past stream through his mind. They then both start to question their relationship, let alone share their secrets. Through the eyes of Takaki, the movie takes a trip through three intertwined stories of love and lost innocence that spans their lives in minutes and months. The anime depicts a harsh but true reality from Shinkai’s representation of crystal feelings.

The anime won 'Best Animated Feature Film' at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards and the 'Lancia Platinum Grand Prize' at Italy's Future Film Festival.

'A Gathering Cats'

Further to that in 2007, Shinkai also worked on a short series titled, A Gathering of Cats. The episodes were Approximately 1 minute long and aired on NHK's ‘Ani*Kuri 15’ program. The event gathered together 15 of Japan's most well-known anime creators.

In the series, Shinkai used his favorite type of pet cats the main character. The cat’s name is Chobi and is a housecat. Once his tail gets trampled by a member of the house, he initially ignored it, but after receiving such harsh treatment from humans on numerous occasions; Chobi summons the house cats to a meeting so that he can plot his ultimate retribution against the humans.

'Children Who Chase Lost Voices'

After 5 Centimeters Per Second, Shinkai spent the year 2008 in London, where he began writing his next film, Children Who Chase Lost Voices (Hoshi o Ou Kodomo). He later returned to Japan in 2009 and worked on the film for two years. According to Shinkai, he understood what it meant to be an anime director after working on this film. He explained, "After two years working on [Hoshi o Ou Kodomo], I think I finally understand what being an animation director is about. I feel like this is my real directorial debut. Now that I've learned how to be a director, I think ‘yes, I want to make the next movie as a director.’"

The film's production was wrapped in March and was released in theaters across Japan in May 2011. Later, the film won the international 'Golden Monkey King Award' at the ‘8th China International Cartoon and Animation Festival’.


The story of this movie revolved around a girl, Asuna who, one day, hears a peculiar melody on her crystal radio, which is a souvenir of her father. She'll never forget the tune since it sounded almost like someone's heart had been turned into music. She then faces a weird beast on her way to her beloved mountain retreat and is saved by a young man named Shun. He informs her that he came to the surface from a faraway region named Agartha because he wanted to meet someone and see something. The two begin to reveal their hearts to one another, but Shun vanishes without a trace, and Asuna is unable to locate him.

Big Hit: 'The Garden of Words'

On May 31, 2013, Shinkai released his biggest hit so far, The Garden of Words, a 46-minute anime film that was released only on some overseas theaters, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

The movie was about Takao a high school student whose dream is to become a shoemaker. One day, when he skips school on a rainy day to make some sketches, he meets a mysterious girl Yukino, a 27 years old woman. His life takes a turn through unexpected meetings in the same garden on rainy days with her and they form a unique bond. However, the rainy season is nearing an end and it leads them to leave a lot of unfinished business

The film won him 'Best Anime Feature Film' in Germany's Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film in 2013. He also bagged the 'Shinmai Select Prize' the same year. He then continued to receive credits domestically and internationally as one of the next generations of anime film directors.

His next big hit film, Your Name, was released on26 August  2016. He released another big hit in 2019 titled, Weathering With You.

'Your Name'

The theatrical feature-length animated film Your Name was started in the summer of 2014 and released in the year 2016. It is a romantic fantasy drama film based on his novel of the same name. It depicts a story about two teenage strangers who find themselves linked bizarrely. The film also received great critical acclaim and won multiple awards, including the 'Award of the Japanese Academy' for 'Best Screenplay and the 'Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award' for 'Best Animation.'

Your Name was a huge commercial success earning over 24.5 billion yen and recording the second-highest box-office revenue in Japanese film history until 6 March 2017. By 2017, it was the highest-grossing anime film of all time, winning over Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away. As of May 2021, Your Name is the second-highest-grossing anime movie of all time, according to Game Rant. The film was also ranked as the No. 1 body-swap film by IMDb in December 2020.

The Next Movie

After the tremendous success of Your Name, Shinkai chose to make his next movie relatable to everyone. He explained, "Since Your Name was viewed by a great number of people, I thought I might as well make the next movie dealing with a theme that everyone can relate to… so that everyone wants to go to see it. I wanted to make a movie that is like a big ship that many people can board. When I thought about what themes would work, I decided the weather would."

His latest feature, Weathering With You, a story of a high-school boy who builds a friendship with a girl who could manipulate the weather, was released in 2019. He bested Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away again in TV ratings in January 2021.


In addition to creating and directing movies and short movies, Shinkai has worked on numerous commercials, such as, 'Shinano Mainichi Shimbun' in 2007; 'Suntory's Tennensui x 'Your Name' collaboration in 2016; Z Kai's 'Crossroads' in 2014,  followed by  Proud Future Theater's 'Someone’s Gaze' in 2018, Taisei Corporation's 'Bosphorus Strait Tunnel' in 2011, 'Sri Lanka Highway' in 2013, 'Vietnam Noi Bai Airport' in 2014, 'Singapore Chapter' in 2018, and 'Myanmar Chapter' in 2020.

Wife and Daughter

Anime director Shinkai married actress and producer Chieko Misaka. The couple together has a daughter, Chise Niitsu, born in 2010. In 2019, his 8-year-old daughter Chise Niitsu starred in the film Show Me The Way To The Station, playing as Sayaka, a story based on an award-winning novel written by Ijuin Shizu.

Did You Know?

In Makoto Shinkai's fanbook 'A Sky Longing for Memories: The Art of Makoto Shinkai,' fans can get famous movie arts created by Shinkai for Studio CoMix. 

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