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Hoshi no Koe
By Ridwan Khan
What if we went back in time and you couldn't instant message someone anymore? What if it didn't take days to snail mail someone, but months or years? This is the problem for junior high students Nagamine and Noboru. Nagamine has been chosen as a pilot for a giant robot, in Earth's war against the Tarsians.
Nagamine mails Noboru from her cell phone as she goes into space. However, as she leaves Earth farther and farther behind, it takes longer and longer for her messages to reach him. Nagamine stays young as she travels through hyperspace, while Noboru grows older. How can love blossom between these two star-crossed lovers?
Hoshi no Koe, the story of Nagamine and Noboru, is the revolutionary title from Makato Shinkai. He produced the thirty-minute OAV single-handedly on his Macintosh. In fact, Shinkai did everything in the anime, outside of voices; in the original version, he and his fiancée provided the voices (The OAV was later re-dubbed when it was picked up for distribution). Hoshi no Koe also proved that, with talent, the backing of a major studio (or any studio, for that matter), wasn't necessary to create quality anime.
Hoshi no Koe (translated as Voices of a Distant Star), is striking for a number of reasons. While the art style is obviously independent, it is marvelous what Shinkai was able to do with only his Mac. The hand-drawn Nagamine and Noboru don't clash with the eye-catching computer generated background and mechanical design; instead, the designs highlight the pair's difference from the world around them.
Also of note is Hoshi no Koe's sincerity. Whatever else the OAV might be, it is truly from the heart. There are giant robots and space battles in the short OAV, but they take a back seat to what increasingly becomes a heart-wrenching love story. Each drawn line and each spoken word is charged with emotion. Looking at the glut of anime today, it is a quality that is lacking in much of the anime being released.
This small, short OAV will probably slip under the radar of most anime fans. That is truly a shame, because Hoshi no Koe is one of the most heartfelt and emotional anime released in the last year.