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.