Voices of a Distant Star is one of Makoto Shinkai’s earliest works. It is neither a full movie or part of a series. It is a stand alone project that only lasts a total of 25 minutes. This film however, will keep you thinking about the characters and the story. Even after the story is finished.
Voices of a Distant Star was written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, and was released in Japan in 2002. He also filled in on acting duties by being the voice of Noboru Terao in the original Japanese version.
Voices of a Distant Star follows the story of Mikako Nagamine and Noboru Terao and how, coming out of middle school, they choose different paths in life. Noboru chooses to go to high school. Mikako chooses to join the UN space force to fight Tarsians and protect mankind.
They stay in contact via text messages. This works well at first, but as Mikako is forced to travel further and further away from Earth so does the time required for the delivery of her messages.
This short film is far from perfect but I feel perfection wasn’t the point of this piece. It seems the point of this story was to experiment with central themes that would show up in his later works. You can see Shinkai looking at how these elements interact with one another, similar to how a photographer views light and shutter speed. Much like his other films, this story is about love and distance. With the results being how these two factors shape people over time.
Another idea that shows up in his later works is the use of texting. Texting for example, was a major plot driver in Your Name. You can see Makoto Shinkai working out how to use this method of conversation to manipulate, and emphasize, the physical distance in a story.
Character development was nonexistent, instead you grew with them through their feelings. Right away, you felt what they were felt. Even though their was no back story, you are brought along with them in their journey.
Overall, Voices of a Distant Star is worth watching, even with the short viewing time. It is a great starting point to see how Makoto Shinkai started his journey. And how he has grown as a storyteller and filmmaker. If you are a fan of Makoto Shinkai’s later works it is worth giving this one a viewing.
It is available for online viewing at Crunchyroll.