I randomly picked this DVD up at Blockbuster's Anime section and expected nothing much from it and 25 minutes later I was ...... !!!!!! The next day I told 10 people about this movie. That's how much it *got* to me.
Hoshi no Koe ~The Voices of a Distant Star~, is essentially a story of a long distance love and mail messages between a boy and girl. The movie is really short, but in that time you discover that the two of them are friends, the girl is sent out with space forces, but they "text" each other. As time passes (on earth) the boy will age quicker than the girl who is millions of light years away.
If you've ever been separated from a loved one by time or distance, this movie will resonate very strongly with you. Prepare the Kleenex. You won't really cry because the movie is sad, you'll cry because of ... sheer longing and wishing and other emotions, please watch the movie and you'll understand what I mean. It's a Masterpiece.
The movie's sheer ability to pack that much emotional punch into a 25 minutes ~ now THAT is story-writing talent. It totally disproves the myth that movies have to be long to have good character development.
What is even more amazing is this entire anime was done by 1 man with 1 Apple Mac. He and his wife provided the voice acting for both characters. The man is Makoto Shinkai. I made a vow to follow his career. Since Hoshi No Koe his career has taken off, he is the talent behind "The Place Promised in Our Early Days" and "Byousoku 5 centimeter". This guy is so good that I'll buy every anime he makes because I know it will be good.
After watching the amazing 5 Centimeters Per Second, I figure I owed it to myself to watch Shinkai Makoto's first work Voices of a Distant Star. Reviews praised it and I assumed that it must be good. Well you know what they say about assuming.
Right off the bat I was unsure about the story. I liked the concept of love separated by distance as it worked quite well in 5cm Per Second, but the idea of lagging text messages is just ludicrous. You'd think that in the year 2046 we'd have invented a more effective form of communication, but I guess Shinkai Makoto didn't think so. Also look at the phones! No effort was made to even design phones that even had a hint of futuristic technology. Oh yeah, they could invent gigantic, space traveling, mechas, but more advanced forms of mobile communication devices are out of the equation! Moving on, the story gets no better from beginning to end and nothing is resolved. Practically no attempt is made to even strengthen the audience's true understanding of the connection that Nagamine and Noboru share. They just sort of tell you that they like each other and expect that to mean something. The years fly by without any coherent sense of meaning and the progression of time ends up not feeling quite right. Things don't change drastically enough for Noboru or Nagamine for me to even care. The story is just a mess. A pretentious, self-indulgent, mess. 5/10
First impression was a mixture of confusion and disgust. The characters are HORRIBLY designed. From scene to scene, depending on the angle, they look so different that I sometimes couldn't realize if they were one of the leads or a new character. Proportions were also SO off at angles that I had to really try to resist the urge to punch the screen out of anger. Emotions don't quite come across as clearly as I would expect which just compounds with all the other flaws making this OVA nearly unwatchable. The space battle scenes actually stand out as the best art in the OVA, but the doesn't mean anything. The mecha designs and animation is average and uninspired. Yawn. 3/10
The sound in this also blows my mind at just how horrible it is. You know how bad the music is? So bad I can't even remember what it sounded like. I can't even remember what if there WAS music in this! And the seiyuu are as lacking in emotion as the Twilight movie actors. The sound effects in the space battle scenes are average, just what you'd expect for that kind of thing, so they leave no impression whatsoever. 3/10
There were characters? Really? I just thought there were talking slabs of painted wood. Not that they had much to say. The characters are just so lacking in any relatable emotion since the OVA didn't spend enough time establishing the nature of Nagamine and Noboru's relationship to make the audience give a car that they are separate. I'd like to see what exactly they love about each other. Noboru is a distant, blank, emotionless guy and Nagamine is a clingy, whiny, child. Neither are developed and both are just without any sort of distinguishing personality. And the whole lack of ANY other characters just blows my mind. Really. 2/10
5 Centimeters Per Second is, to this day, one of my favorite anime movie/OVAs of all time and I think, since it came after this abysmal pile of filth, that Shinkai Makoto is a very talented man. He knows how to establish atmosphere and characters, situations and emotions that you can relate to. He brought none of his skills in these areas to this OVA. Flat characters, a ridiculous premise, emotionless seiyuu and horrible art all make this one of the WORST anime ANYTHINGS I've ever seen. I will never understand how so many people could enjoy this trash, but they can if they want. I do not suggest watching this. Save your time for Shinkai Makoto's other works as they are worth the investment. 4/10read more
I first watched this movie in 2004 in university and remember being blown away by the sheer depth of emotions and feelings that this short film manages to convey in the time that the typical shounen anime may have managed to advance the plot by about 2 screams, a power-up and a fireball.
Coming back to this film over 10 years later, I was apprehensive at how my memories of the film would hold up to a rewatch by my older, cynical, 30-something self.
The art is pretty mediocre especially given the advances in animation in the past decade. The faces especially tend to be distorted and out of shape though some of the landscape shots were pretty breathtaking. The plot is also pretty normal and if summarised is nothing special. In the short amount of time we spend with the 2 main characters, we don't really find out much about their history or motivations driving them.
With all these flaws then, why does this film deserve a 10/10, a PERFECT score??
Makoto Shinkai (the director) somehow takes these somewhat mediocre elements, mixes them together and then turns them into an amazing film which is greater than the sum of its parts. Somehow, despite the mediocre and simple art, you really get a sense of the vast emptiness of space, and the loneliness and isolation that Mikako feels as she is separated further and further from Noboru by both distance as well as time. Somehow, despite the limited characterisation, you really come to understand how strongly they feel - their despair, their love, their hope. And to top it all off, Makoto Shinkai somehow did all this on his own using a home computer in 2002, when most people were still discovering how to use a computer to surf for porn and such.
Hoshi no Koe is a movie about feelings, and how it conveys these feelings so forcefully in 20 minutes is truly impressive.read more
“There is no long distance about love, it always finds a way to bring hearts together no matter how many miles there are between them.”
Telling a good story in only 25 minutes can be a difficult task, but Shinkai Makoto (almost) single-handedly managed to do so with Hoshi no Koe. However, since it was in fact only made by one person, it does have its fair share of flaws (some more prominent than others).
Story: (8 / 10)
The story is simple. Two childhood friends are separated, but try to stay in contact with each other, even as the distance between them grows. This creates a rather emotional love story, and it does it all in the short time period of 25 minutes.
Because it’s so short, there’s not too much to say about it, but Shinkai did a great job of delivering a story like this.
Art: (8 / 10)
The art is by far one of the biggest shortcomings of this OVA, and yet it’s so beautiful, all at the same time. Hoshi no Koe uses a mix of 2D and 3D-animation, mostly using the latter for the mecha and spaceships, while characters and backgrounds remain 2D. The backgrounds are fantastic, and looks so good, but this is where the problem comes in. With such beautiful backgrounds, it’s rather weird that the characters look so... bad. It really feels like there wasn’t nearly as much time put in for the character art, and it’s really noticeable.
It wasn’t too much of a problem though, as all the other aspects of the art (and OVA in general) will take your mind off the character designs before you know it.
Sound: (8 / 10)
There are (apparently) two versions of this OVA. One where Shinkai and his wife did all the voices, and one which had proper voice actors. I watched the former, which obviously means the voices weren’t as well done as they could have been. Some lines of dialog just felt stale, but this is also a (very small) problem which quickly fades in comparison to the rest of the OVA.
The OVA has a very emotional piano-centered soundtrack, which really helped bring out the emotions in every scene. The music in itself is fantastic, and the credits song, “Through the Years and Far Away”, is an absolutely beautiful song that really captures the tone the OVA set.
Characters: (7 / 10)
When you only have 25 minutes to tell a story, it’s quite obvious that there won’t be time for a lot of character development at all. Nonetheless, the characters felt real, and somewhat relatable (I’ve never been in a similar situation myself, so it’s hard to tell). What I did like, however, is how there are no supporting characters, really emphasising that this is the story of these two friends, separated in time and space, and introducing new characters which we’d have to develop emotions and care for would’ve probably taken away a lot of the feelings you get when watching this.
Enjoyment: (8 / 10)
I really enjoyed this OVA, and how it manages to do what it does in such a short time. It was rather emotional and sad at times, but not to the point where you’ll find yourself crying uncontrollably.
If you have 25-30 minutes on your hands, and/or you’re simply a fan of these types of movies (5CPS, Promised Place) then I’d highly recommend you watch this.
+ Tells a great love story in a very short amount of time.
+ Fantastic soundtrack.
+ Nice mix of 2D and 3D-animation.
+ Beautiful backgrounds.
- Character art really falls short.
- Voice acting can feel a bit “off” at times (due to not having real VA’s)read more
An absolutely beautiful masterpeice in all but a few regards.
Voices of a distant star tells the tale of two lovers, seperated by time and space whos only connection is through txt messages which arrive at exponentially increasing delays, to the point where a message is sent wishing happy 24th birthday, from a 15 year old me.
Voices of a distant star is the end result of getting a perfect love story, trimming off all the excess fat, and shrinking it down to 25 minutes of raw emotion.
This was a very hard anime to rate, if you were to take this 25 minutes and compare it to the same length of time in any other anime, Voices of a distant start would win hands down, but because its so short when it came to the end, I was just wishing it would continue for even just another 20 minutes. It left me feeling satisifed but not quite furfilled.
I can see what 'they' tried to do with this anime, purify and distill it, and in that regard it was pulled off flawlessly. The one problem I have is I feel that the characters drew the short end of the stick and at times, the storyline felt quite rushed.
The art style in this anime is just so beautiful it really does justice to the storyline, although the storyline feels like it could have been developed a little more, Voices of a distant star has some absolutely amazingly breathtaking scenes that I never thought I could learn to apprechiate within 25 minutes.
Voices of a distant star is the perfect example of how even within 25 minutes, something beautiful can occur, but because of this it left me wanting more which is why I give it a 9, altough with an added 20 minutes it could have easily been a 10.
A truly rememorable anime and one that I highly recommend.read more
One of the shortest anime out there, Voices of a Distant Star is also in my most humble opinion, one of the best I've ever come across. Following the story of two young friends, they are suddenly divided by the reaches of space. Their contact with each other becomes limited to text messaging. Soon the messages take days to reach, then months, and eventually years. The work that put the now-well-known Makoto Shinkai on the map, this bittersweet tale is one not to be missed.
Voices of a Distant Star is a story that packs more emotion into its entire 25 minute run than an average series will in 25 episodes. The progression of the narrative leads to more hopeless outcomes with every passing moment, yet it never loses the one small ray of hope it offers. A short story in nature, it does it's best not to muddle things up much with lesser details, though the sci-fi setting is a little tough to swallow. Still, Voices keeps things as simple as possible by focusing heavily on main characters Mikako and Noboru throughout the anime's run.
The cast, compromised entirely of Mikako and Noboru, tell the story through their own personal feelings and inner conflicts. This not only makes the story a little deeper, but it fleshes out the two much more than just two kids who realize their love for one another too late. Their personal feelings reflect an internal symphony of emotion beyond the care that characters in situations like these are handled with. They never come across as superficial or phony. This is pure human drama anyone can all relate with to some degree.
Another thing that's bound to surprise is that this entire anime was animated on Makoto Shinkai's PC, proving that ANYONE can make an anime if he or she really wants to. The result actually looks rather professional as well. It's surrealistic in the robot scenes and alien worlds, but the more dramatic scenes are heavily bound in reality. Shinkai's attention to detail shines as much as it does today and his careful crafting gives the anime a solid look, yet delicate feel.
The soundtrack was composed by TENMON, who is now better known for his work with ef ~ a tale of memories. It is heavily piano-laden and that's not a bad thing. The melodies are fragile and beautiful, and the final piece "Through the Years and Far Away" never fails to bring me to tears as the first notes are played.
As I said before, Voices of a Distant Star is one of the best anime I have ever seen to this day. It's short, universal in its message, well-written and well-styled. The only thing that keeps it from being perfect is that there is nothing in this world that is perfect. But please, watch it. It's only 25 minutes long so you have no excuse!
Overall I give Voices of a Distant Star a well-deserved 10 out of 10.read more
Voices of a Distant Star is a very well received anime. For what reason is beyond me. This anime is just bad. Maybe I'm not the most cultured person, but seeing two people whining and complaining isn't my idea of entertainment.
Story: The story has the right idea, it just doesn't seem to do anything. The idea that two people who care about each other but are split apart by distance is a noble idea, and one that could have worked, but it doesn't because it just shows the two people just complaining, and hardly anything else. Sure there are some action sequences in there, but they are boring. If your going to do something like this, at least show the characters interacting with characters in the place they are. Just going back and forth between the two is not at all interesting. I honestly think that the director didn't even try to expand the story at all. Bottom line, this story could have been good at least, but it just fucks itself over by there being nothing besides the interaction, if you can even call it that.
Characters: Now, here's where Voices really takes a downfall, the characters. Both Mikako and Noboru are simply too whiny. They're so whiny, it's hard to sympathize with them. They basically have no emotion besides the fact that they miss each other. It's just "Oh, I miss you" for 25 minutes in various ways. They don't even seem sad about it or anything, just rather depressed. Despite the fact they both whine and complain, I think that Mikako is worse because; 1. She complains more, and 2. She doesn't drop out of the army to be with Noboru, even though she can. But still both characters are just awful.
Art: The art was overall decent. The Earth setting was really good, but the other settings were absent of anything interesting or eye-catching. Now, when you can't make space eye-catching, you defiantly have a few problems in the art department. The character design was OK, but Mikako's design looks like it was ripped-off directly from Lain's character design. The 3-D art however is where the art starts to drag itself. It just doesn't fit. It looks poorly compiled and not at all cleaned up. The only good thing I can say about the 3-D art is that the enemy ships look like a Haunter, who is an awesome Pokemon. But even that doesn't save the art, because it's just overall decent.
Sound: The music is rather forgettable and boring. Sure, some of the stuff they did with the piano was interesting, but it's still just boring and forgettable. It's almost as they played the same song, just over and over again. The English voices were decent, and the sound effects were sort of interesting, but they were few and far between and you can't remember them. The sound part was just rather boring.
Overall: I have no idea why so many people like this anime, it's just two people complaining for 25 minutes. That's not entertainment, that's high school drama, and frankly, there are better ways to watch high school drama than this. If you want to see people complaining for that long, then I feel sorry for you. 3/10read more
The story line is just simple but how they portrayed it was just FANTASTIC. We all probably can think of a story like this one but its how the story was full of passion between the two characters which made this anime's story so beautiful. This anime shows how easily love can determine one's future and thoughts.
Although the story was good there were some "not gonna happen, even for an anime" moments, which was the heroine was still in high school and was going out to the universe. Although, this gave the anime a dramatic effect to it.
It was interesting to see how 2-D and 3-D effects were going to be used together. The ships and meccas were nicely done in its 3-D style. Unfortunately the characters design were HORRIBLY done. Even for a 2002 OVA, the character designs could have been greatly improved on taking in account relating to the fact that the scenery was a lot better and it was also in 2-D. For a moment because of the character design, I thought I was watching the wrong anime.
Due to the lack of time there is not much to say about the sound and character in my perspective. The sound played nicely in the dramatic scenes and also did a nice effect for other parts such as firing of missiles. Just the BMG alone could make a person cry. The characters were greatly developed in their relationship for the 23 min. The downfall to watching this series after 5cm and The Promise is that the character personalities are very similar.
I enjoyed this OVA and is a heart breaking experience. I suggest this to anyone who has 20-30 min on their hand. Also If one would want to fully grasp the beauty of this, watch this before 5 cm and The Place Promised in Our Early Days. I do not think that this would ruin those other animes but further enhances the amines themesread more
Voices of a Distant Star, short... but sweet. As a one off OVA by acclaimed director Shinkai Makoto it comes with a rather impressive pedigree, but I feel like it never really got moving. The story tells of a young boy and girl who are separated by an intergalactic war. Sounds excellent, but it never really gives you a sense of why they are fighting or even who they are fighting. If the story was more fleshed out and placed in a movie format I feel that this would have been a real winner. It isn't bad as it is, but it could have been a lot more.
The animation and art direction are where Voices of a Distant Star really stand apart. In every scene the smallest details are animated perfectly and realistically. The CG mechs are very well done, especially considering this was produced six years ago. The backdrops and the sky in particular are always top notch and very well drawn. Top marks all round. The character models were a little goofy looking, but it wasn't enough to bother me to any extent.
The music and sounds really give a sense of distance. It's an odd way of describing it, but the music really gives scale to the battles and makes you feel like something epic is taking place. If I had a complaint about the sounds it would be the voice acting. It wasn't poorly done, but it could have been better. When the girl was getting emotional and crying, I just wasn't feeling it.
The characters, Mikato and Noboru, are the only characters in the story. As it is only a one episode OVA there isn't a chance to see any back story or flesh out the story any way. In the time provided it was mostly focused on their desire to be together and how much they loved each other. They have no personality at all and are very one dimensional. Get over it.
I was expecting a lot better out of this OVA, but it is a nice quick watch none the less. As a movie I think this would have been much better and would be placed up with other top notch movies. As it is though there isn't enough time to get a sense of what is going on or even care. Still worth watching though.read more
Have you ever tried having a long distance relationship? It’s not easy, believe me. I once tried it for a year and a half and it was really hard. The trust issues men, they’re killer. You don’t know what she’s really doing because you are not always together. Though she tells you want you want to hear, you will not know if it’s really the truth. After the relationship, we became friends (can you believe it?) and she told me she was having an affair during that time. What a bitch! Anyway, my situation was just one of the millions of long distance relationships all over the world. Being apart from the one you love by just a couple of miles is really, really hard. But can you imagine if the distance is light-years away? Will you still love her even if you have no idea if you’ll ever see her again? Hoshi no Koe: a story of love written in the stars.
When I was having a long distance relationship, I’m very strict when it comes to communication. If I send her a message, I want a reply as soon as possible. If a response came 5 minutes after I sent mine, I transform and become The Hulk. But what will someone feel if responses come years apart? Hoshi no Koe is about waiting for text messages that both party is not sure if will ever come. If this is real life, the guy would have probably found a replacement after just a couple of months (Days if he’s good looking like me, and years if he looks like you). But since this is an anime, the guy stays loyal (M). Throughout this short 20 minute one-shot, imagining what these two lovers feel is just really heart-wrenching. Having felt it myself (Well, at least 0.5% of what they experienced), I understand the pain. A bit tragic-like but with an open ending, Makoto Shinkai delivers once again. Oh, yeah! This is a Makoto Shinkai film, if you’ve seen some of his works, then the ending wouldn’t surprise you… or rather, wouldn’t satisfy you. But I personally like it and (byfar) is my favorite Makoto Shinkai movie.
Nothing much to say about the 2 characters rather than they gained my respect. They can continue loving each other even if they’re not sure if the other still loves them. If I can point out one bad thing about it, it’s probably the guy. The guy is too masochistic. He can easily pick up some of the girls that like him then he wouldn’t be lonely but he still decided to stay loyal to the girl to continue his hardship. His morale is a bit respectable but more laughable. No man can do that in real life. Temptation will always win. I somehow relate their situation with Chise and Yuuji from Saikano (Saishu Heiki Kanojo aka. I’m Sorry - The Animation). I don’t know. I just think the situation is somewhat alike. Apart from that, I have nothing else to say about them. They’re still likable characters even if the series just runs for 20 minutes or so.
Makoto Shinkai seems to like his violin and piano. In almost all his movies, piano and violin will never be missing… I think. The music is really emotional. It perfectly matches the premise of this one-shot. In regards to the dub, I really like it. You can surely feel the emotions that the voice actors portrayed. You will hear loneliness, sadness, and agony in it. I really like it specially Adam Colon. His dub is really emotional… it’s as if he can feel the exact same thing that his character is feeling. Well done.
Makoto Shinkai. That alone is enough for one to know that the animation for this one-shot is really good. Though the character design and the animation are a bit dated, it still follows the typical Makoto Shinkai quality. Though it looks a bit old, the quality of animation (in its time) is really beautiful. The one-shot also features some mech and action which looks really cool. Typical Makoto Shinkai fashion.
I consider Hoshi no Koe as a tragedy because of the heart-wrenching portrayal of long distance relationship. Because it just ended when he was about to follow her, I was a bit disappointed. However, because of the ending being as open as it is, I was fine with it. It is one of the few shows that even after I finished watching it, I was still thinking of possible scenarios that might happen because of how it ended. An ending such as this is one of my favorites because even if it ends, it feels as if it didn’t end. Makoto Shinkai, he teaches us that love isn’t always about sunshine and rainbows since 1997.
With all that said, after some random computations, I’d gladly give Voices of a Distant Star an overall rating of 7.9 out of 10. Even if you haven’t experience being apart from the one you love by a couple of miles, watching Hoshi no Koe will show you the hardships and trails that comes along with it. A bit sad upon initially watching it, but once you sit down and think about it, it’s really a good romantic one-shot. Why not check it out? It’s just 20 minutes nothing much to lose, right?
Alternate Anime Recommendation:
For alternate anime recommendation, why don’t you try Aoi Bungaku? Not all of it (Well, it’s a good series so watch it all if you can) though. Aoi Bungaku episodes 9 and 10: “Run, Melos!” specifically. Both stories revolve around the concept of “waiting” and the hardships that can be tied with it. Both stories present a rather sad question of: “Who experiences the most pain? The one waiting or the one waited?”
Also, as mentioned, there is also I’m Sorry – The Animation… I mean Saikano. Both series have masochistic guys, both the girls in their respective series is away from the one they love because of military duties, and also, unrealistic (yet dreamy) romance. Between the two, I’m hope you find something that you would really like.
And that’s it for me. Thanks for reading all of that as always. Bye! read more
This OVA definitely felt like it had potential, but for me, it didn't really deliver on what it promised.
Anyone who takes a look at my anime list will know that this is definitely the kind of story that I would expect to thoroughly enjoy; from the sci-fi, to the romance, to the unique element that drives the plot.
However, it just didn't feel like it.. went anywhere. Of course, I don't expect much character development from a 20-minute OVA, but the characters felt like they had close to no personality at all. There were no developments that weren't already obvious from the start, and little character development or plot progression - the premise from the MAL description basically _is_ the entire story.
Also, while it's always deceptively easy to retroactively point out false predictions in science fiction, I can't help but find the juxtaposition of mobile phones circa 2002 and a futuristic setting that includes aliens and FTL travel kind of comical.
On to the animation; It's definitely obvious where the production quality significantly benefited from digital animation, even though the actual keyframe animation is nothing out of the ordinary (if not below average). However, this is counteracted by the overuse of 2002-era 3D animation, which would've looked out of place even at the time, and comes close to ruining the experience altogether in 2015.
I don't know the circumstances that lead to the choice to invest so much effort into the 3D animation - whether it was for budget reasons or simply a desire to play with the newest possible technologies, but thirteen years later, I think it was the wrong decision to make.
I will say that Hoshi no Koe makes good use of what little music it has, and that the director definitely has a feel for how a good soundtrack can be used to bring out the emotions in a given scene.
As a side note - While I was initially impressed that the English actually seemed to be well-written, the unnatural use of Japanese grammar definitely becomes more apparent in the later English lines. "Enemies exist" rather than "there are enemies", et cetera.
All in all, perhaps I had massively inflated expectations of a 20-minute OVA from 2002, but Hoshi no Koe was, personally, a let-down. I have yet to see Shinkai's other works, but I hope I'm going to enjoy them more.read more
Melancholic story about love and long journey full of beautiful images. In less than half an hour Shinkai will drag you from the "boring dead end" train station somewhere in Japan to remote galaxies. He is executing the whole process very skillfully by mixing poetism with sci-fi.
It is remarkable that he did all the work by myself. Deficiencies seen in particular on animation of characters, static backgrounds are however very nice. The film deserves more elaborate scenario. Fights animations are in my opinion, completely unnecessary and in this genre we should feel pretty comfy even without them. On the other hand, it must be said they are very nicely done. Same goes for sound effects and music which are splendid. Especially in romantic moments sounds of rain, wind, the city in the background and light tones of the piano brings the atmosphere almost to perfection.
If you wanna fully enjoy this piece you have to got atleast a bit of empathy for the characters. For those who are of a more rational nature might be 8 years of waiting for SMS absurd in many ways.
Yes his style might be over-sweet and naivé for somebody and I absolutely get it, but the bittersweet tones as the end comes so typical for Shinkai's "manuscript" are frankly said : the most appealing thing on his style. Best with bit of melancholy and tea. read more
Voices of a Distant Star is a short 25 minute OVA with an incredible story. Star crossed lovers aside, it’s the tale of this little episode’s production that’s really unbelievable. Voices was written, directed, and produced by one man, Makoto Shinkai, on his Mac computer. He outsourced the music to a friend, who provided the soundtrack; and Makoto and his wife, Miko, even provided the voices for the working edit.
This little OVA is a miracle; given the extremely limited production value, Voices is just impressive. The art style is simple, but it’s very well animated. There’s a lot of CGI used to animate the mechs, aliens, and outer space setting, and while it’s very obviously dated, just remember again that it was all accomplished by one man and his Apple. It looks much more impressive than plenty of anime produced by big name studios with obviously limited budgets.
The music, composed by Tenmon, all on it’s own could bring a person to tears. The melodies are beautiful and melancholy; it always feels as if something very tenuous hangs in the balance, and we’re made very aware of how precarious Mikako and Noboru’s situation really is. Again, very simple arrangements, all done on piano, that work extremely well, given the restraints.
But aside from the technological achievement, the story is beautifully written. I was in awe that a story about two high school teenagers, their ill fated love story, and alien-mech warfare drama, managed to move me to tears in such a short period of time. Shinkai generated more emotion in 25 minutes, than most anime manage in 25 episodes. Like the music, there’s always a sense of the fragility of the situation— how everything could go wrong in an instant, and yet there’s still a glimmer of hope. Not a word or shot is wasted, and the whole thing feels much longer than your standard TV episode just by the weight of it.
Here’s where I want to draw a comparison to another short film— Hotarubi no Mori e, a short film in 2011 which exploded in popularity. The two are similar in overall theme—Hotarubi is also about two teenagers whose seemingly impossible love story develops over the course of years. But Hotarubi had half the plot points, and almost double the runtime as Voices, and Voices still told the more compelling emotional story.
It just illustrates the talent Matoko Shinkai has for storytelling (which is further evidenced by his two films to follow, 5 Centimeters per Second and The Place Promised in Our Early Days). This one is really a hidden gem; take the thirty minutes to see it, you won’t regret it.read more
Voices of a Distant Star — the work that made Makoto Shinkai famous and touched the hearts of angsty teenagers everywhere. Feel free to help me understand why this is revered. I get that it’s remarkable that Shinkai did everything but the music, but I fail to see how it gives him license to write a hollow story and be called the next Miyazaki for it.
Let’s start with the good. Shinkai is a master of animation, arguably the best in the business, and Voices of a Distant Star is no exception. While it may have been made by one man on his laptop, it is superior to the work of some studios. Even at this early stage in his career, you can see Shinkai’s obsessive attention to detail that brings his worlds to life in a way that few others have accomplished. This stunning world is set to a beautiful soundtrack that features some timeless piano pieces. Tenmon is to music what Shinkai is to animation, and together they make a team few can rival. And if nothing else, Voices of a Distant Star‘s attempt to tell a moving love story in under half an hour is ambitious.
Alas, now for the bad. While the animation is gorgeous, the limitations really show. The 3D scenes don’t stand the test of time and stick out like a sore thumb, and the character designs are so bad they’re comical — welcome to the land of the square heads. Tenmon’s also not so great when it comes to the climactic space/action tracks, which are instantly forgettable. And although the original Japanese voice cast (which includes Shinkai) is good, the English voice cast is ruined by Cynthia Martinez, a woman notorious for her role as Hermes in Kino’s Journey. Even if you can stand Martinez’s voice, the dub is essentially worthless because it departs so significantly from the original dialogue.
“So?,” you might say, “I’m a real anime fan and I only watch subs anyway. And I can get past the square heads.” Well, good for you — now about that story. Anyone who has seen Shinkai’s works knows his theme is love tested by distance and time, and Voices of a Distant Star is where it all began. In a sense, Negamine and Terao are the perfect characters to illustrate the concept: they’re torn literally light years apart by circumstances beyond their control and try desperately to stay in touch, even if it means waiting years for that next short text message. The problem is the characters and their relationship are remarkably undeveloped. They’re introduced, we’re told that they’re deeply in love (nevermind that they’re junior high school students), and suddenly Negamine is off into space, longing to be reunited with her soul mate.
This all felt terribly melodramatic to me, and it’s an issue that frequently arises in Shinkai’s works. The basic idea is beautiful, but if you want the audience to actually feel for the characters and their separation, you need to sell the premise that they’re genuinely in love. Otherwise, it becomes impossible to empathize with them, and what’s left is a dime-a-dozen plot with pretty slow pacing to boot. Granted, the film is only 25 minutes, but Shinkai has fallen into the same trap even when given more time (5 Centimeters Per Second). He does much better when he gives the characters and their relationship the attention they deserve, and fortunately his latest work, Garden of Words, suggests he is improving with practice.
Voices of a Distant Star is a unique work, essentially one man’s labor of love, but it’s tough to do it all by yourself. Shinkai deserves credit for his hard work, but he’s received way more than is warranted. There are a lot of good love stories out there, and this one doesn’t come close to making the list.read more
“And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”
The sheets of rain curtained onto the barren streets, while a single boy runs for shelter into a bus stop. He looked skinnier than usual, as the white fabric clung to his pale flesh and the shadows plastered to his features. Sliding onto the bench, he slipped out his cellphone, fiddling with it for a bit before the screen came chirping to life. The beep ricocheted through his heart like a jolt of electricity, bringing his attention to the email he received. He had waited a year to see her name typed, “From: Mikako”.
Voices of a Distant Star doesn’t have ambitions to be some theatrical space opera or intergalactic epic of Star Wars-like proportions. It’s a romantic heart dressed in a science-fiction dress, trimmed with mecha and aliens that seek to destroy all of mankind. Exciting isn’t it? But we all know love is about personality, not the looks. Through the smokescreen of whirring missiles and the winding tentacles of Tassarian battleships lies a tale of two star-crossed lovers torn apart by deep-space combat.
Makoto Shinkai debut effort sets the motif that threads together his future work, two lovers sundered by the realities of society, its framework and how love’s pale fingers can stretch to the limitless boundaries of remoteness. It’s a microscopic mirror into the mind of Shinkai, who develops these themes in much greater depth in 5 Centimeters per Second and The Place Promised in Our Early Days, but the sense of separation between these particular characters feels the most immense, caulked by vacuum of the heavens. His two actors, Mikako and Nobura, are middle school students that fancy spending high school together, trading dreams of Kendo club and buying ice cream at the local convenience store. These daytime reveries shatter when Mikako reveals she will be a pilot, helming a mech to combat a threat to humanity.
The narrative hinges on the emails exchanged by the two friends, as the dividing light-years cause their messages to take longer and longer to deliver. Minutes and hours quickly precipitate into months and years. As the breadth of day grow, Mikako’s gloom and isolation become palpable as she flounders in her heartache. Her outcast from the account of earthly time is distressing to watch, frozen in her fifteen-year-old frame as Noboru ages across an eternity. The exchanges delicately nurture the climax, Nobura receiving a wandering text many years later, as the layers of melancholy and rejection sweep over the viewer. It’s bittersweet, but that’s how I take my chocolate.
The frames of Voices from a Distant Star are torn from the pages of a sketchbook. Frayed lines crisscross one another, actualized into shape by a wash of pastel watercolors. It’s breathtaking, yet curiously unassuming, asking the audience to focus on the interaction of the characters instead of the hushed hallows of ‘Random Japanse Suburb 1’.
The placid humdrum of the town is broken up by hyper technological CGI sequences involving giant robots, deviant aliens, and a mobiles of heavenly bodies. The sections seem obtrusive, jarring even, compared to the tranquil hues of earth. Reason being, the 3D sections are of amateur quality, textures are grainy and the rendering is poorly aliased, caked up in overembellished lighting effects. The animation is comparatively clunky, as the steel clad titans stumble through each scene. My homesickness quickly dissipated when the camera traveled back to the dulcet foyers of ‘Random Japanese Suburb 1’.
A companionless piano is kept by a metronome’s heartache, as its solitary steps pave an upsetting chant. The instrument stands on it’s feeble as it’s chord echo Mikako’s alienation and Noburo’s fortitude. It’s the glue that holds together the collages Shinkai assembles with his imagery and dialogue, which at times falls flat. Shinkai and his fiancé in the original did the voices of the leads, and professional seiyuu were employed for the mass distributed version. In either, Mikako’s voice is a monotone murmur, absent of any sort of emotional inflection till the very end. Noburo suffers from a similar affliction, but atleast his voice is audible. Like the Animation, the sound and music stands on uneven footing, faltering from time to time.
Both protagonists don’t have much bulk to them, reflected by their flip-book style of artwork. Most of what we know comes from the events that unfold within the twenty-three minutes, back story ignored. Most of the character development is driven by the communication between the two students and how it fuels their catharsis in the final moments. I couldn’t ask for more from a short film, and was surprised at the magnitude of effect their romance had on me.
I’ve had these feelings before, sitting at the airport as my girlfriend kissed me on the apple of cheek instead of saying goodbye. I thought about how the Rockies, the desert, the Great Plains, and Wisconsin separated us. My heart pelted against my chest as I as the final few seconds wound down from the Quicktime counter. Voices of a Distant Star is a powerful work of art and a stunning display of storytelling which I highly recommend. read more
Story: Voices of a Distant Star is an update to the war letters to a loved one story, such as the real case of Sullivan Ballou's famous letters during the Civil War. The slow agonizing wait of reply is given a sci-fi spin as the characters age at different rates due to the effects of space travel. As Nagamine travels ever further into the depths of space, her texts take longer and longer to reach her childhood friend and lover, Noboru. The concept is very poignant and one can feel great empathy for the couple as the cold distance of time and space separates them, slowly tearing them apart. 9/10
The problem however is the bad execution of characterization in a very short time. The OVA is only 25 minutes long, which is not enough to build the necessary emotions to support the story. You don't understand their pain of time as the characterization scenes zip through haphazardly, undercutting the plot. Their emotions come off as cheap as little effort is made to construct their relationship, and the ensuing loneliness. Instead far too much time is put on glossy space battles and displays of background art that steal time away from character development. Everything is too rushed and the great concept is left unfulfilled.
The scenery of planets and mecha were very picturesque and detailed for its time, especially considering it's a one man production. However the characters suffer as their proportions are terrible and even for anime, their faces are misshaped.
There is only three voices: Noboru, Nagamine, and British voice commander. Sadly the main characters have uninspired VAs that are emotionally unconvincing. The score is nothing memorable and doesn't set the mood well. The best sounds are the various beeps and blasts from the action sequences, again undercutting the emotional aspect. 5/10
There is not enough characterization to empathize the characters. While the plot of distance and time separating them is emotional, they remain bland, unestablished, and unconvincing. 3/10
Voices of a Distant Star is a flawed product, it's execution is poor and rushed. Shinkai misplaces his efforts in visuals instead of trying to tell a good story. Thus its potential remains unfulfilled. I recommend reading the superior manga adaption instead, as it properly focuses on the characters and their emotions. 6/10 read more
Similar to some other posters, I watched this after reading the manga. The potential was there, but sadly was not executed in the way the 5cm per Second was. Granted this is only a 25 minute ova. I felt the art was sub-par. There were a few liberties taken in regards to character development, which entirely changed the feel. The emphasis of the ova was on mecha-space fighting, and for that, I felt the character's relationship took a back seat.
Again, do yourself the service, of reading the manga. The long-distance love relationship is much better expressed, and the entire feel is a lot more bitter sweet; a real 'emotional punch' is felt, which was not present in the anime.
It was nice to see an attempt at making this into an animation, but overall, it did not deliver.read more
I'd heard some really good things about "Hoshi no Koe". Considering the amount of praise there's been for this seemingly insignificant half hour long OVA, I felt that it was something I simply HAD to check out.
Having watched it, I feel a bit... disappointed. The main problem is that it's just too short. Due to all the hype, I was expecting a lot more. Though in some places "Hoshi no Koe" does succeed in generating a certain special atmosphere, the amount of stuff you can pack into a half an hour show is simply not enough for it to solidify into something more substantial. The dialogue/monologue heavy format reminds me a little of "Seikai no Danshou", as that is also a short OVA that relies more on words than flashiness, But "Seikai no Danshou" has an extremely strong background already provided for it by its parent franchise whereas this did not, and as a result this feels a bit more empty.
Set in the future, the main story of "Hoshi no Koe" revolves around two friends texting each other across increasingly long distances as one of them goes off to fight a long military campaign in a distant part of the galaxy. Even though this may sound like the gimmicky outline for a cheesey mobile phone advert, the idea is used remarkably well. As the distance between the two main characters increase, the text messages takes longer and longer to get to the other person. There's a profound sadness as we see the seconds and minutes turning into hours, the hours turning into days, and the days eventually turning into months and years - can you imagine sending a message to a close friend, knowing they won't get it for several years, or receiving a message that's several years out of date, and this is the only way you are able to communicate? Admittedly, it seems rather strange to me that texting still works when they're fighting a war light years away from civilization (again, it's the kind of exaggeration of the power of mobile phones you'd expect from a mobile phone ad :P), but the feelings generated as a result is so heart wrenching that I can almost forgive the contrived scenario.
What's remarkable about "Hoshi no Koe" is that it's all made by one man... I kid you not! It's a colossal effort considering how well it turned out. Still, the fact that it's made by one man means that though the production values are surprisingly good, you're not gonna be getting shiny, adrenaline pumping mecha battles scenes the caliber of "Gundam Seed", in fact the battle scenes of "Hoshi no Koe" are confusing to the extent that I am reminded of those from "Vandread", which is not a good thing. Speaking of mechas, they feel like a tack on because I find it a bit seeing them in this kind of anime which really doesn't have much to do with flashy battles. I also thought the character designs are pretty bad.
But despite its flaws, the emotions it is able to invoke means that it's still a good anime. Considering all the stella praise I've been hearing though, I was expecting a lot more from this, and in the end it simply feels too short for me to become totally engrossed in it. read more
Originally published on Anime Viking: http://animeviking.wordpress.com/
The first time I saw Voices of a Distant Star was in the middle of the night back in 2007 when I was merely 14 years old. One of the biggest television channels in Sweden was holding an anime marathon from 12:00A.M. to 06:00A.M. and naturally, since I was an anime fan and this was a rare occurrence, I simply had to stay up and watch it all.
Out of every short, OVA and movie that aired, the single piece that stood out was Voices of a Distant Star. This is not surprising, considering how unique Shinkai’s works really are. The often substantial and realistically portrayed stories (either in the real world or the fictitious one) accompanied by wonderful music and visuals are honestly one-of-a-kind in the anime industry as far as I can tell. There is a clear vision of what Shinkai wants to tell and he does so without compromising his own goal, or at least that is how it comes across.
But Shinkai has always had trouble with making me feel connected to any of the characters, which is extremely notable due to all his works focusing on the characters rather than the stories themselves.
Voices of a Distant Star tells a story about two lovers literally being separated by space and time, as one of them is stuck on Earth while the other is travelling through space. Their only mean of communication is sending mail messages via cellphones, but as their distance grows, so does their lack of contact. It is a simple and perfect idea for a story, yet Shinkai misses the chance to make a heart-wrenching tale.
The problem mainly lies in the aforementioned lack of connection to the characters. We are never really shown how much they mean to each other and have to solely rely on the emails if we want to understand them. But because the emails are rather sparse and nonsensical, this does not work. In theory it should, particularly since we viewers are experiencing the same thing as the characters, but in practice is comes off as slightly hollow. I see that the characters care for each other, I understand the message, but why… why should I care, unless I have been through the same?
Another thing hampering Voices of a Distant Star is the overall production, which, especially today, is very simple and on the verge of outdated. While it is possible to ignore ugly heads and static images, it is harder to accept the poorly made CGI-scenes in space and a directing lacking a finishing touch (scenes dragging, odd scene expositions etc.). All of this is understandable since Shinkai essentially did everything by himself, but it does take away a little from the experience.
While not perfect in any way, Voices of a Distant Star manages to tell a fascinating tale in only thirty minutes. But sadly it never manages to reach any of the heights it could have had. This, however, does not mean it is bad. It is merely a missed opportunity. read more
I just finished watching the anime and wanted so much to write a review right away, because I'm still overwhelmed after watching this.
(I won't include a summary of the story, since I assume everyone has read the official MAL one)
Yes.. 11! The story is quite simple to grasp. In a nutshell it shows two people, a young boy and a girl who are seperated by distance. Yup..that's the whole concept. But it's the ideas that enriched this concept and its execusion that made this anime a little gem. Because distance here has taken its most extreme form..that of some light years away. Mikako and Noboru are able to exhange text messages through their cellphones, but as if distance between them wasn't enough.. the messages sending times depend on how far away each time Mikako is from Earth. At first she sends mails from close planets, like Mars, but then the expedition she is part of draws further away, so the sending time of the mails is delayed.. resulting to mails taking up to a year to reach Noboru and more. As the story unwinds the feeling of a possible happy reunion gives its place to desperation, while every hope seems to dissappear. But what is beautiful is the connection that still exists between the two of them through those messages. And even if they both have to live for each moment, those messages,no matter how rare, have become the core of their existance, around which their lives are revolving. They could try to make their hearts colder and move on, but its like those messages are their real lives and the rest is just a duty they have to bear with. And the mails can transform to something more, a feeling as if one can maybe hear the thoughts of the other, as if they are still close as before.
I really liked the art! It was quite detailed and thoroughly done. Especially the colors were beautiful. The design of the mecha wasn't my cup of tea, as well as the design of the faces of the two characters. But these were minor things that didn't really matter in the end.
The sound was great too, It really supported and enriched the story.
There are only two characters, but you won't even think about that at all. The story is so captivating that you will love both the characters from the very start. Without saying more than its needed, they look deep and mature.
I surely enjoyed my almost half an hour of viewing. The story was sad indeed, but still it held something bright and beautiful in it.
This is a must watch anime! I haven't watched so many anime shows up until now, but this was definitely one of those that I will remember long after I have watched hundreds of others. Because it's one of those anime that don't need to be excessive in order to be liked or seek various tricks to draw the viewer. It's beautiful as it is in it's own purity and that is rare to find. It won't pretend to be something more than it shows and that honesty is captivating. Don't miss this, it's like a small oasis of calmness in our every day craziness.read more