Makoto Shinkai's works resemble to studio Ghibli's (Hayao Mizaki's) works because of the depth in the plot and the emphasis on human's relationship towards each other and different aspects. However, Makoto Shinkai's works don't usually have happy ending. Both of their works always bring a very tender feeling but for Makoto Shinkai, the movies are all light-hearted at first sight, but it's actually darker than in the whole context.
Makoto Shinkai uses the human's thinking as the key to build and lead the story flow. The emotional twisted between a human being's thinking and reacion is portrayed gently but deeply. His works mainly deal with everyday-life matters (slice of life) and therefor the audiences feel easier to link themselves to the characters. His style of narrative resembles to Japanese's Haiku- describing the surroundings to highlight the main figure's emotion. It's slow enough to focus and consider into the slightest movement or changing of things and the characters, creates a "breath" throughout the whole movie and shows how beautiful every smallest movements could be.
I like his technique of creates the backgroud using series of still images of real objects with very little motion then edit them using computer graphics. However when it comes to the characters, they are all done by hand-drawn. The contrast between the flaty characters stand out agaisnt their surroundings creates a nice effect.
Article about him: http://www.tested.com/art/movies/442545-2d-animation-digital-era-interview-japanese-director-makoto-shinkai/
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