I just watched Makoto Shinkai’s latest masterpiece: 5 Centimeters Per Second (秒速５センチメートル). You might remember Makoto Shinkai from his previous works such as Voices of a Distant Star (ほしのこえ) or The Place Promised in Our Early Days (雲のむこう、約束の場所).
This animated film was so beautiful, yet so heart wrenching, and I think I’m going to be depressed for some time. The drawing was just spectacular and the music/soundtrack was nothing short of Tenmon‘s best. The storyline was so amazingly beautiful, I’m not sure exactly how I feel with such an open ended ending.
The main theme of this story is that time and distance is very relative. Something can be very close, but you’d never be able to reach it. Other times, a minute can seem like an eternity.
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Did you know that sakura (cherry blossom) petals fall at a rate of 5cm/second?
The story starts off with 2 elementary school friends: a boy named Takaki and a girl named Akari. They’re only friends were each other and when Akari tells Takaki that she was moving after elementary school graduation, it was very painful to watch.
A series of letters go between them during middle school and Takaki finally decides to go visit her. It required transferring several trains and he was expected to get their by 7pm. However an unexpected snow storm caused delays and the closer he got, the worse the situation was. There was a point the train was stuck in the middle of nowhere for 2 hours. Takaki had hoped Akari would’ve gone home by now and not wait for him at the train station.
He reaches there and finds Akari slouched next to the fire, fast asleep. He wakes her up and they both enjoy an Akari-made bento together. Takaki originally had a letter with everything he’s wanted to say to Akari, but never had the courage to, but unfortunately during one of the stops, the high winds blew it away. Takaki was also moving away, furthering the distance between them. On the walk back to Akari’s house, they kissed.
Fast forward to middle school, there’s a girl named Kanae that has a crush on Takaki. Takaki never seems to notice and appears to keep text-messaging someone. We later find out that he’s sending text-messages without a receiving address. When Kanae was ready to confess to Takaki, she realizes that Takaki’s heart is lost in some place different and there’s no way for her to reach it.
Fast forward to Takaki’s adult life. It starts off with 2 people walking across the train tracks in different directions with sakura petals floating around. The woman looked like a grown up version of Akari. Takaki turns around and trains are just passing by at that moment. A series of flashback entails.
It appears Takaki has returned to Tokyo and works as a programmer. A woman keeps on trying to reach him, but he ignores her call and never returns them. Takaki’s life appears to be going nowhere and he keeps dreaming of Akari. We find out later that Akari was getting married soon, but not to Takaki. Akari apparently found an old treasure box, including a letter she never had the courage to give to Takaki, but she’s only feeling nostalgic.
We return to the back to the initial point of where the trains were just crossing. Takaki waits for them to completely pass and the woman is no longer there. He turns around and smiles and the movie ends.
I’m guessing either middle schoolers don’t carry cell phones or this was just an atypical situation where Akari and Takaki weren’t able to contact each other during the train ride. Of course, this made the trip that much more touching.
I had hoped the letter that Takaki lost would somehow end up with Akari, but unfortunately, that never happened.
I’m not exactly sure who the long black hair girl with glasses is. At first, I thought it was Kanae, but they mentioned that Takaki was in a relationship for 3 years, so I’m guessing it’s someone new he met after returning to Tokyo to work.
In part 2, there was was a scene with a rocket launch and couple that with the cell phone text messaging, it reminded me of Voices of a Distant Star, and thought Akari was the girl who had gone into space. After checking the sources, it appears I was wrong as the characters are completely different.
I personally thought the ending was sad, but Tera disagrees and thinks the ending was a happy one. It is interpretative and the director purposely left it open ended, with the smiling Takaki at the end. The reason I’m going to be depressed is that I find many similarities between Takaki and myself. It’s so sad that he appears to be stuck in time, unable to move forward and forget about Akari, pushing away people who truly love him. Yet he doesn’t do anything about his situation and prefers solitude. Sigh…
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I truly recommend this film to not only anime fans, but anyone who enjoys heart-felt love story. As noted earlier, I’ll only be reviewing movies I truly enjoy and The Kite Runner, A Battle of Wits, and The Orphanage have been queued for review for some time, and my decision to blog about this immediately should indicate just how incredible it is.