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The 11 Best Makoto Shinkai Movies, Ranked

Updated September 9, 2020 313 votes 66 voters11 items

List RulesVote up your favorite Makoto Shinkai movies, regardless if they're short films or feature lengths.

For the past 40 years, Hayao Miyazaki has long been considered one the greatest anime directors of all time. And even though he still finds ways to keep churning out films, it's inevitable that his retirement is fast approaching. But the worldwide phenomenon of Your Name, which even surpassed Spirited Away as the highest-grossing anime to date, proves that Makoto Shinkai is a director deserving of that title. Whether you're awestruck by the gorgeous animation, bopping to the awesome Radwimps OST, or crying your eyes out (the most common side-effect of watching a Shinkai film), his movies make an emotional impact on audiences everywhere. 

From his short films, like Someone's Gaze, to his new features, Weathering with You, this list ranks all of Shinkai's movies. Which are your favorites? 

  • Your Name.
    Photo: CoMix Wave Films

    It's difficult to top the worldwide success that was Your Name. Arguably Shinkai's most popular and well-known film, the story takes you on a beautiful yet mind-boggling journey of two teenagers who wake up to find that they've swapped bodies. Mitsuha lives in the Japanese countryside but yearns for the big city life, while Taki is juggling high school with a part-time job in Tokyo. Although both of them lead very different lives, this supernatural occurrence brings them closer together, revealing that their fates may actually be intertwined. This is a movie that encompasses all of the themes that Shinkai loves to explore: lost human connections, the barriers that separate people, star-crossed romances, time and space, and traditional Japanese mythology. Despite all the different elements thrown into the bag, he makes it work splendidly in a moving and epic tale that will surprise you, make you laugh, and of course, make you sob. 

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  • Weathering with You
    Photo: CoMix Wave Films

    This movie had it difficult since it followed after Your NameBut it still lived up to its expectations. Weathering with You is a tale about runaway high school student, Hodaka, and his fateful encounter with Hina, a "sunshine girl" who has the ability to make the sun come out. They band together to start a business where Hina provides her powers to those who request clear skies. And though they find joy in this business, they learn that Hina's powers come with consequences. Compared to his other movies, the story is more light-hearted and comedic. Of course, it has serious themes as the plot centers on runaway teens, troubled family life, and the supernatural, physical barriers of love. But the end result will leave you smilling at the quirky characters and thrilling action. Plus, there's a lot you can analyze about the film for its references to Japanese mythology and commentaries on climate change

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  • 5 Centimeters Per Second
    Photo: user uploaded image

    Another Shinkai classic, 5 Centimeters Per Second is one of his more somber films. It's separated into three chronological acts, narrating the story of childhood friends Takaki and Akari as they grow further apart due to distance and time. Not only is the animation haunting and understated, the characters are vividly real and complex, drawing you into their struggles with unrequited love and loneliness. It's a melancholic yet beautiful film that will stay with you even after the credits roll, making your heart ache for their lost love. This is a film for those who've suffered the pain and hardships of long-distance relationships.

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  • Garden of Words
    Photo: CoMix Wave Films

    While the plot is a little controversial, The Garden of Words still manages to create a poignant story with realistic characters. Whenever it rains, 15 year-old Takao Akizuki skips his morning classes to work on his shoe design sketches at the national gardens. One day, he finds a 27-year-old woman at the same bench eating nothing but chocolate and beer. They start running into each other every rainy morning at the same place, forging a close bond without even knowing each other's names and background. Although the animation in all of Shinkai's films are always spot-on, this film lets you know it. Shinkai makes sure to focus on small details of the art, whether its the lush green bushes of the gardens, a juicy sliced tomato, or the glistening rain drops splattering onto the pavement. The result is a visual feast that will make you wish every rainy day could look like this. 

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