“Voices of a Distant Star” – Chris Luedtke

I find myself at a loss for words. I have no introduction prepared here, just as I had no expectations prepared for Makoto Shinkai’s Voices of a Distant Star. I did no research on the film before throwing it in my DVD player. This part was at least planned, though. Knowing the bare basics and seeing what I’ve seen, I can’t help but be awed by every aspect of this impressive piece.

Voices of a Distant Star takes place in the future during an alien war, as Mikako Nagamine (Mika Shinohara) and Noboru Terao (Makoto Shinkai) are just finishing up in high school. Mikako has made the bold decision to join the battle against the alien Tarsians. Noboru stays behind, and the two lovers have but one means of contact: cellular text messages. However, as the distance between the two grows, the text messages take longer to be received, and the question of their relationship becomes more and more tense.

The first thing you need to know about this film is that it was created entirely on a home computer. I have seen people shoot it down for its supposedly poor animation. First off, it was made in 2003 and looks millions of times better than any mainstream crap like Bleach. The fact that this was done on a home computer blows my mind, and for a 2003 film, it looks gorgeous. The flow is beautiful, and the style is reminiscent of other anime. If you’ve seen the any of the Gundam series or Neon Genesis Evangelion, you’ll notice some art similarities, especially Eva influences in the enemies. Space is also made out to be a desolate place. This is something I’ve never really felt in a film. Voices of a Distant Star actually made me want to be out of space, even though I’ve never been there. The loneliness and depression that carries here is something that really sticks.

The story’s pacing is done very well. A part of me wishes it was longer, but then again, it is perfect the way it is. Most dialogue is internal, and we get a real feel for character psyche here. Feelings pour throughout. When they are sad, so are we, and the story is very melancholy. Still, it’s eloquent and poetic. I got more of a feel for Mikako, but that’s because not much really happens to Noboru once she takes off; his life falls to a standstill, although we are frequently told he is trying to move on. It is evident that the characters are quite in love, to the point of where life’s visions are blurred.

Voices of a Distant Star clocks in at twenty-five minutes. That’s right. It’s about the length of a regular anime episode. But what this film does in twenty-five minutes is more than what some feature-length anime do over the course of their entire span. I honestly did not move when watching this. I am beginning to wonder if I even blinked once. I cannot pick out a flaw here that even slightly removes the polish that this film has. It shines brighter than the sun, yet it takes us to a dark, desolate place that exists in all of us. Voices of a Distant Star is something that simply must be experienced.

Rating: ★★★★

-Chris Luedtke

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