PARIS • Makoto Shinkai has a big problem. His mystical teenage gender-swopping movie Your Name has become such a massive hit, it is beginning to worry him.
"It's not healthy," the Japanese director said. "I don't think any more people should see it."
Your Name has become a runaway success in Asia. Every week, it gets closer to being the biggest Japanese animated film of all time. And now there is talk of Oscars.
"I really hope it doesn't win," said Shinkai, 43, who just wants to get on with his next story, about teched-up Japanese teens.
He has been called the "new Miyazaki" - the successor to retired master animator Hayao Miyazaki, whose 2001 classic, Spirited Away, is still the most successful Japanese film ever. But the comparison makes Shinkai even more uncomfortable.
"Of course, I'm happy when people mention his name and mine in the same breath. It's like a dream. But I know they are overpraising Your Name because I am absolutely not at Miyazaki's level. Honestly, I really don't want Miyazaki to see it because he will see all its flaws."
Shinkai insists his film is not as good as it could have been - a refreshing approach for the man who is supposed to be promoting it in France.
"There were things we couldn't do," he said, explaining that his team of animators led by one of Miyazaki's greatest disciples, Masashi Ando, wanted to keep working on it, but with money running out, he had to cry stop. "For me, it's incomplete, unbalanced. The plot is fine, but the film is not at all perfect. Two years was not enough."
But Shinkai knew he had a hit when he showed it in Los Angeles before its Tokyo premiere. "The audiences laughed then they sobbed... I had drawn a graph when I was making it about how the audience might react and it was just like that.
"I was happy to see it worked but, at the same time, I was afraid it worked too well. I said to myself, 'Damn, maybe I overdid it.'"