If you wondering about the title… That is how fast a cherry blossom petal falls.
Several people in the blogosphere, namely Flak and Kimaguresan have suggested me to watch this slice of life/romance/drama movie called 5 Centimeters Per Second. Considering that I have not watched a movie from Makoto Shinkai, which is a well-known director who directed movies that are bittersweet and appealing to the eye, I had high expectations. After watching the whole movie, I was pretty impressed even though the story did not a happy ending.
The format of the movie is not what you typically see in a normal movie. The movie is split up in three episodes, 22 minutes each. The format in a sense was done pretty well and it wasn’t done in a way that the story would feel disorientated. It keeps you concentrated in a certain period of time where Takaki experiences the events around him.
The first episode focused mainly on the letters that Shinohara Akari to Tono Takaki wrote when they got separated after Elementary School. In addition to the letters Akari wrote, there were flashbacks when they were best friends and having fun. Throughout Takaki’s journey to meet Akari, the train delays because of the severe weather. The delays causes him to fell into despair, especially when he lost the love letter he was going to give to Akari. When he finally arrives at his destination, he reunites with Akari. They ate, went out and kissed/hugged in the snow and stayed in a shed overnight. Afterwards, he departs back to his new home. You would think that this would be the happy ending that everyone wanted, but it was not.
The second episode takes more of a third-person perspective in the high school years, focusing less on Akari and more on Kanae, a girl opposite of Akari’s intelligent and pretty looks as she is more athletic. She develops romantic feelings for Takaki when she first meets him mainly because of his nice personality. Since she believed in him, this allows her to gain the confidence and become better at surfing.
On the other hand, Takaki seems to be too occupied in trying to regain contact with his childhood friend, Akari. His obsessiveness over making text messages to no contact is proof that he does not want to let it go his past. When Kanae realizes this, she did not confess to him in the end and left in a sense of depression.
Even though the second episode doesn’t have any connection to the first and third episodes, it does signal that Takaki’s long running relationship between Akari have come to an end. Also, there is no possible way of getting back to each other and it was a point of no return. If he realized that, he should have looked for another girl to fill the emptiness in his heart. However, he didn’t because getting over a relationship like this is very difficult, even for most people.
The last episode is where Akari and Takaki are in their adulthood. Takaki is now a computer programmer who seems to be dissatisfied where his love life is going. He eventually quits his job and enters a deep depression given that he was heartbroken over Akari. Meanwhile, Akari is happily living with her husband. Then, she realizes that she never gave him the love letter back when she last met him when she was thirteen. After the montage, Takaki takes a small look at Akari’s face at the railroad and he finally gets over Akari.
5 Centimeters Per Second was a pretty realistic story on how they portrayed a distant relationship between two people. When the lovers become distant with each other, it’s pretty difficult to maintain a good, romantic relationship. This happens since the difficulties of face-to-face contact or perhaps any type of contact. This could also apply to regular friendships as well when students graduate and go to different colleges. Unless you keep regular contact with your friends through any means, it’s most likely that your friendship with them are going to drift away regardless of how good your friends were.
However, something did bother me about them drifting part. In reality, something like this will not likely happen now because the availability of social networking sites, cell phones, email, instant messaging and video conferencing that allows people keep in contact with their friends. They could communicate with each other through these technologies if they liked each other so much. Even with technology, the only way to insure a healthy romantic relationship needed for the couple to meet them once in a while such as every two weeks on a weekend or a holiday. I just didn’t see it with Akari and Takaki. If they loved each other so much, they would have met each other so that they maintain their relationship. It would have been realistic, but it would have taken them a lot work and time to meet each other. On the other hand, that would completely miss the point since the story took place way before social networking, cellphones or even the internet ever existed (even though Takaki had a cellphone in the second episode).
In conclusion, 5 Centimeters Per Second is a recommended movie for all anime fans, especially those who watch slice of life dramas like Clannad since they have a similar melodramatic feeling between the both of them. In addition, there is no doubt that the animation is beautifully done. The snow, sunsets, the sky, everything looked pretty that it was enjoyable to see. The only problem I saw is in the character development, especially with Akari and Kanae. Nevertheless, everyone should be able to enjoy and grasp the universal message of distant friendships relatable to real life because it can happen to anyone.
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12 Comments… read them or add your own.
Definitely one of the best works of animation to come out recently. Pity that ADV ceased distribution of it but then again, very weak in presentation in the DVD.
Not agreeing on the social media part since that didn’t seem to be the focal point of the series. Rather, as Mr. Shinkai noted, it’s all about distance. Part 1 showed that despite the vast physical separation, their hearts remain close. However, you get a hint of what’s to come with the letters that both failed to deliver. Part 2 is more of Kanae and how they’re close physically but in heart, never to meet. She understands that Takaki will never see her the way she wants him to. Also, I don’t think Kanae ever realized that there was no recipient to the messages he made. Part 3 can be taken different ways but the most poignant moment is the text he receives from his (ex-)girlfriend, which can be taken as a counterpoint to any indirect form of interaction (social media being an example).
All in all, a nice review of a brilliant series… which I’ll finish my comment with an expanded version of Voices of a Distant Star’s ending.
I am here… and I will move on.
Indirect communicating through something like Facebook is easy for most people, but it can never replace the good old face-to-face conversation. It’s such a pity that this hardly happens because people are usually too busy texting to friends and going on Facebook on their phones…
The only effective way for a healthy and serious romantic relationship is meeting in person (mentioned in the review). No silly tech isn’t going to replace that ever.
By the way, I stopped using Facebook since it’s pointless and for other reasons.
“But even if we were to exchange a thousand emails our hearts would probably not move even one centimeter closer together.”
Extrapolated to any means of indirect communication. FB got silly after they opened it up to anyone but then again, can 2.0 really replace 1.0? Not if you’re a sane human.
Not sure why I’m doing this – maybe to procrastinate on my Honeymoon Salad post – but here goes…
First, the story starts in like 1992. People don’t have cell phones. Even as they acquire them (Cosmonaut, 5cm/s), they’re not inculcated in 2010 social web. But none of this is really relevant. As FFVIIKnight points out, the key is in distance, and the ‘moment of separation’ really happens, again, as he said, with the failure to deliver the letters. For Takaki it was an accident—but he doesn’t mention the contents of the letter he lost to the wind (distance); for Akari it was a choice—she doesn’t hand him her letter.
There’s an unspoken understanding: “you were always within reach, but now you’re not.” That’s how it goes, in life. Things are the way they are until they’re not.
Did Akari and Takaki give up too easily?
But they understood something: they had to make a choice, and they made the same choice. And then they never saw each other again. Does that mean they didn’t love each other? No, just that they’re not quite so idealistic. :\
Very… cynical, I want to say, but it’s not excessively cynical. It’s just a realistic outlook.
I love that about it.
Its kinda silly that I haven’t realized that it was that early. I suppose that the internet wasn’t wide spread considering that the internet was started in the 1990s. We know people hardly had computers or even cellphones, so letters are the only form of communication that sometimes become unreliable.
Even without technology, they could have exchanged phone numbers and call each other to go out or visit somewhere, but they didn’t seem to gone to that route.
Sorry that I missed that part up… just remember, I am human… I make mistakes, deal with it. Don’t get too excited over it, okay. 🙂
Like I said, that detail is not relevant… you didn’t reply at all to the bulk of my comment!
Okay, lets take technology out of the picture and explain why they separated. We know, even though the romance existed between them, they gradually grew apart. If you look at the scene where Takaki loses his letter he was going to give to Akari and Akari not delivering hers, it does signify something that happens in the future.
In the second episode, Takaki still tries to get in touch with his lover, but it ends in a road block since like the letters that weren’t delivered, it doesn’t get delivered either since he doesn’t know the number for Akari’s cellphone to send the text to. Even if he has her number, he finds it pointless to send it because he knows that he won’t get a reply or Akari to even notice.
With the third episode, he pretty much have up on indirect contact (as described in the quote FFVIIKnight), he knows that its pretty much over. As the movie shows, indirect contact no matter how much you like the distant lover, it’s not going to get a person anywhere since it’s not reliable. Face to face is becoming scarce in this society because of the popularity of indirect communication and we need to take advantage of it more often even if it’s only once a month. As we all know, once we lose contact, there is nothing we can do to change it.
Is it idealistic? Absolutely not, but it can happen (as in, its realistic) even with the technology we have today. Its like myself not being in constant contact with my friends since I dropped Facebook. Even that, the friendship grew apart as time goes on not meeting with them and theres no changing that. All we can do is hope for the best and make new friends.
I thought it was a brilliant, and visually beautiful movie. To me the distance between people was shown to be the result of our attempts to live our lives. At one point Takaki muses about the journey of space exploration vehicles, moving ahead (deeper and deeper into the vastness of space), but leaving human society behind. In that same way any two people could grow apart, moving ahead on their journeys, but leaving behind each other, and their shared history.
In a way, the spaceship heading to the center of the universe is pretty symbolic in the second episode as the letters that failed to delivered by Takaki and Akari. It’s pretty subtle, but it’s similar to the way the relationship of Takaki and Akari is heading… In the third episode, the spaceship arrives at the center of the universe on the magazine cover. This shows that the spaceship is completely cut out from human civilization like Takaki lost complete contact with his first love.
So yeah, I kinda failed to bring that up since it’s subtle, but has relation to where their relationship is heading.
I dont understand, why didin’t Akari just wait like Takaki did in the end off movie!!
I wish the final shouldn’t have end like that its disappointing
I’m not satisfied
Make a story where akari and Tonno end up together
I think you are missing the point. Makoto Shinkai’s movies usually have bittersweet endings, so obviously there is no happy ending. Also, distance makes it very difficult for them to stay together. Even with social networking and cell phones, it’s just not the same as having constant physical contact with each other that is important for a healthy relationship. Their still bound to drift apart from each other. Eventually, he has to move on and make love with a different girl, which he finds special.