As college entrance examinations draw near, two students living completely different lives decide to enroll in Z-Kai, a correspondence education service. Balancing their studies with their daily lives, the two diligently work towards their goal, unaware of how much they share in common. Will their hard work pay off and bring about the success they desire?
First let me disappoint most of you who only saw the trailer without any prior knowledge. The trailer is the whole series, this was just a commercial campaign by "Z-Kai". Granted with huge names like a Makoto Shinkai and Masayoshi Tanaka it is a bit disappointing that we only get 119 seconds of amazement and joy.
I put the story 6/10 only because it's essentially a commercial and not a story at all, if this project were to be adapted to a full blown storyline I think it could have a lot of potential, but alas this is all we have.
Per Shinkai's other work (Garden of
Words,Children with lost voices, etc...) the art work is simply amazing. It's almost worth the two minutes of your life just to be blown away by how amazing the art work is.
I won't comment on the sound too much because of how short this work is and because the art work demands most of your attention most probably won't notice the sound unless watched again.
The characters seem to have a lot of potential, of course we only get to see a glimpse into their lives, but they're so intriguing that I am legitimately sad that "Cross Road" isn't an actual full scale series. My enjoyment was 9.5/10 (only because it's so short *cries*) but I highly recommend everyone watch this. If only we had commercials like this is the States!
"This isn't a movie. It is a commercial. God damn it!" - anyone who saw it and hoped for a series AND then came to know about what it really is. I know that feel, bud. Trust me, I do.
Makoto Shinkai strikes again with another one of his visually stunning works - this time with a 2 minute commercial instead of a feature length film, however. And because it is *his* work, I'll actually skip commenting on the artwork in general. Because it is stunning, to say the least. And I don't know how else to describe it. I shall talk about character designs, though.
They deserve a mention.
I sure wish he worked on this as a series or a movie, though. Why?
Because this is a departure from his previous works in the sense that this is a very light hearted short story. No depressing shit here. Instead of going with the themes Shinkai regularly plays with, ie, 'distance', he went for a different direction. Which is refreshing to see considering the fact that almost every work of his deals with the same theme in a different manner. It is time he explores new grounds. Because as good as 5cms/s was, I don't think I would enjoy watching the same theme explored for like the tenth time and have the creator be known as a one-trick pony. I think he's better than that.
But I digress.
Oh, and yes, I called it a "story". And that's because even in two minutes of run-time it managed to drag me into its world and make me relate to the characters in a way "The Place Promised in Our Early Days" (one of his previous works) never could. The cast comprises of our main leads, a guy and a girl, preparing for a test that'd get them into a university of their dreams. This, being a commercial, uses the story of these two characters to showcase how the long-distance correspondence courses from "Z-Kai" help these two to get where they want. Ends on a happy-ish note, I guess?
This had a lot of potential - it could easily be adapted into a 13 episode Slice of Life series, in your humble reviewer's opinion. Whether or not that actually happens remains to be seen. But that's wishful thinking, bleh.
The character designs are neat. Both the guy and the girl look attractive. This is a step up from the previous Shinkai works I've seen, to be honest. The characters didn't look especially attractive in "The Place Promised...". This is a huge improvement when it comes to character designs when compared to it and a definite but subtle improvement from the character designs in his more recent works like "5cms/s" and "Garden of Words".
Their voice actors did a good job and they efficiently managed to portray the emotions that were required from them by the characters they were playing. The girl's nervous "I'll be going now!" while leaving her home to go check out the results of her test sounded very, very natural. So yes, it'll suffice to say that they did well.
The soundtrack used here is sung by Miss Nagi Yanagi and beautifully compliments the visuals. It makes up a large part of what made the whole experience so damn good apart from the stunning visuals.
All in all, I doubt you'd regret watching this short commercial. It is a wonderful sight to the eyes and very pleasant to the ears. Definitely worth 2 minutes of your life.
"Woaah, what an amazing preview! When will it air?"
"Dude, it won't... that was a 2min one-shot."
Probably the most common reaction after watching these commercial cuts, and certainly the utter sadness for Shinkai fans.
Those who are already familiar with his projects, might have notice that from times to times companies from all kind of services come and asks him for short movies that will be used as commercials. All these movies have a optimistic and uplift forward-thinking look to them, caring some kind of moral or sense of ethics.
In this case, this could easily fit as a preview for a cute boy-meets-girl slice of life
anime, character driven, one of those series that develop into a deeper drama/romance. Even though this is just speculation, it's awesome to see how a short commercial was able to incite all these thoughts, when it's main focus is to sell things not make you ...feel.
Well, that's Japan for you.
Not just thoughts though. As a classic Shinkai production, some might feel also emotional affected by these short movies. Mainly because it shows situations many of us can relate and sure have gone through something similar in the past.
Besides from Shinkai, for this one-shot we also have Masayoshi Tanaka (AnoHana, Kannagi, Mushishi, Toradora!) and Yuu Yamashita (Azumanga, Bleach, InuYasha, Usagi Drop) for the Key animation and character design, and Ayane Sakura (Love Lab, BokuwaTomodachi, Endymion -Index, Joshiraku) for Miho's voice.
While we wait for another cinematic production from Shinkai-san, watching these short stories is a great way to unwind and refresh your artistic masterpieces battery.
-As for the standard MAL rankings, there's no use in further digressing about them.
Story: 6/10 - Art: 8/10 - Sound: 8/10 - Character: 6/10 - Enjoyment: 9/10
Character and story gets an 6 due to the lack of development, obviously.
Artwork and sound 8 for the astonishment they always are.
And enjoyment sure is a 9, even though it only lasted 119 seconds.
Once upon a time, Shinkai Makoto made a name for himself overnight with a 25 minute independent short. Following his playful debut work "She and Her Cat, the poignantly existential "Voices of a Distant Star" cemented his place as a storyteller and opened the doors to the industry for the fresh young auteur.
Fast forward a decade or so, and now he has amusingly been hired to create a commercial for a cram school company. The result is surprisingly touching as a bite-size narrative, and reminds us why Shinkai Makoto is a master of the short form storytelling. The impact "Cross Road" achieves in two
minutes is greater than what lesser anime reach in thirteen episodes.
Now don't get me wrong, Makoto's films, which have continually matured visually and thematically, continue to awe and inspire, but I can never shake the feeling that his longer, later works lack the fresh rhythm, and hard-hitting punch of his early masterpiece "Voices". His highly personal, contemplative themes emphasizing separation, chance and circumstance, alongside his lingering sentimentality over unresolved threads of life, are most effective in short bursts. When given the "freedom" of movie length run times, his pet themes can on occasion become overwrought and melodramatic. Hence, it is with this two minute commercial short that the defining elements of his unmistakable style shine through most powerfully.
When pushed to the limits with this constraining format, Makoto makes every single shot count down to millisecond duration, woven together with flawlessly timed editing over inspirational music. By condensing time and space to an extreme, Makoto is able to rapidly draw parallels that tightly entwine two characters who otherwise don't meet until the very end, as well as increase the weight of their every action. Such economy is epitomized by a brief moment in the story (that only lasts a second or two), perhaps to be considered the climax, where a shot of the school door opens, cuts to the female protagonist in thought, then cuts to a close-up twist of her pen, and to a wide shot of a classroom full of students, all to the high point in the accompanying vocals -- that culminates in the protagonists striving to fulfill their dream -- is absolutely uplifting and brilliant in a way that defines Makoto at his very best. The animation, the movement, the choice of shots, the timing from one shot to the next, the context leading up to and following this magical moment, it's all so indelibly appealing. More amazingly, every beat, every moment of these two minutes are nearly as breathlessly spirited.
Some seem to think this would be better as a movie or a series, but in my view, if it were prolonged any more than it was, it would lose so much of what makes it so potent as it exists: a refreshing two minute tale that eliminates the burden of a longer, mundane chronicle of life told so many times before and so many are familiar with. Our imagination fills in the gaps, the details, the happenings in between, and the ever after, and that makes it more than it could ever be in elaboration. Will they get into the U? Will they end up together? Does it really matter? Any extension would be the start of something else far beyond what this set out to be. "I sought to find something great, and while it may not have been what I expected, I found something... or rather, someone." As such this simple tale began and concluded. Like a classy, expensive dessert, "Cross Road" is a slice of life that comes in a small portion. And that's what this short really is -- a collection of perfect little images telling a perfect little story, which incidentally is a the perfect little commercial. Someone should remind this guy to make more short films.
Makoto Shinkai has been called "The New Miyazaki" due to his amazing talent and stunning visual works. And his newest movie "Kimi no Na wa. (Your Name.)" recorded a historical hit in Japan. Let's take a look at a list of his best rated works on MAL!