A love that is not meant to be. Sounds familiar? This film is an emotional story about two childhood friends who grew up as lovers. But distance plays a villain that keeps them apart. Clinging to the hope of seeing each other again, despite their strong feelings and effort, they can never make it work, drifting further and further. Once again, it’s Makoto Shinkai’s beautiful movie, 5 Centimeters Per Second review.
Another Beautiful anime film that comes to mind is the famous In This Corner of the World. Which you can read about here on my In This Corner of the World Review and another is my Only Yesterday Review.
Undoubtedly, Shinkai knows how to tug at your heartstrings by using strong emotions and everyday life incidents to relate somehow. He brings out what we as humans go through and enable us to empathize with the characters. As one of the best animators, the kind of idea he uses in his works is truly remarkable.
5 Centimeters Per Second is a romantic film that is set in the early ’90s and is centered around the distance relationship between Takaki Tōno and Akari Shinohara. The story is divided into three parts: Cherry Blossom, Cosmonaut, and 5 Centimeters per Second. Takaki being the central character, the story focuses on moments in his life about love, relationship, friendship, and regrets.
The title of the film, 5 Centimeters Per Second, signifies the speed at which cherry blossoms fall, representing how people often start together but slowly drift apart.
The story begins with Takaki Tōno and Akari Shinohara in fourth-grade elementary school. Akari is introduced as a transfer student and quickly becomes friends with Takaki sharing mutual interests. But shortly after, Akari has to move away due to her parent’s jobs. Yet, they keep in touch, writing letters to each other, but the distance made it hard for them.
This time, Takaki will be moving away to another city, even far away, so he decides to meet Akari one last time. The fact that he traveled a long distance to see Akari was a happy-sad moment. He carries a letter confessing his love for her, but a sudden rush of wind blows away his letter, and a severe snowstorm delays his train. They finally meet and walk through the snow, sharing their first kiss and takes shelter nearby. The following day they had to say goodbye with a promise to keep writing letters to each other.
Takaki is now in senior high, and his classmate Kanae Sumida has a crush on him ever since he transferred to junior high school. But she never dared to confess her feelings. Kanae often tries to spend time with Takaki by waiting for him after school to ride home together. But Takaki is utterly unaware of her feelings and only treats her as a friend. After a while, Kanae notices that Takaki always writes emails to someone and keeps looking far away in the distance, searching for someone. She realizes that Takaki will never look at her the way she wants him to. His heart belongs to someone else, far away, and keeping her feelings to herself. She cries herself to sleep.
5 Centimeters per Second
Takaki now has a job, but he is still unhappy. While, on the other hand, Akari is engaged and is preparing for her wedding. She goes through her old stuff and finds a letter she wrote for Takaki many years ago, which she never sends. Takaki’s girlfriend, whom he has been with three years, breaks up with him, and he also quits his job.
Shinkai expressed that he wanted to present the real-world struggles people usually face in terms of time, space, and love in the film. And he successfully does so. The characters’ emotions are wonderfully portrayed and most people can relate to them on a personal level. It shows us about the separation between lovers, unrequited love, fear of rejection, and distance. Something that we are bound to experience in our lives too.
The three short episodes capture the life of Takaki from childhood to adolescence and into adulthood. There is a strong bond between Takaki and Akari as childhood sweethearts. They often have to change schools because of their parents’ jobs. And sadly, their friendship is short-lived. Although they try to keep in touch by writing letters to each other, their distance keeps getting longer. Carrying on with their lives, eventually, they fall out of touch. But Takaki doesn’t seem to get over it and regrets failing to confess his love for Akari.
Since the story focuses on Takaki, we don’t know how Akari deals with distance and separation. But she sure moves on and falls in love again. At the same time, Takaki is still living in the past, unable to move on. He writes a message for Akari every day but never sends them. Always looking at a distance for something that is long gone, he fails to see what’s right in front of him.
Through a brief relationship between Takaki and Akari, the story shows how distance can be cruel, and nothing lasts forever. The ending was somehow unexpected, but the emotions that Shinkai has put in this movie are hard to ignore. Without a doubt, the animation is visually stunning, with soft colors creating a pleasant view.
5 Centimeters Per Second is not one of my personal favorites, but it sure is a great movie. It is heartwarming and emotional. If you still haven’t seen his movie, you shouldn’t hesitate to watch it. It takes you through an emotional rollercoaster and the reality of this world.
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Featured image is from the film (c) Makato Shinkai