Five Centimeters Per Second is an anime adaptation of the manga of the same name. It was directed by one of the industry’s top director Makoto Shinkai, who also created the manga and was animated by one of the best anime studios in Japan, Comix Wave.
(I never blinked or got distracted by anything else while watching this movie literally every shot in this movie is a wallpaper.)
In comparison to Makoto Shinkai’s previous works this uses a contemporary perspective where it focuses on the real world and the struggles that people have to overcome. The film is a near perfect translation from the manga.
(Theres something very beautiful and melancholic at the same time from a shot like this)
The film is split into 3 parts and focuses on two childhood friends, Akari Shinohara and Takaki Tono.
( I really like the sense of peace and and quiet from shot like this provides)
It is set in Tokyo and the first two parts occur during the 90s while the 3rd act was set one year after the film was released in 2008.
(This is actually the final remark i'll be making for this review so just look at the scenery and enjoy the beauty of the animation.)
The title of the film refers to the speed that cherry blossoms fall. From the movie perspective, it represents the slow pace of life.
It deals with deep connections people make with childhood friends and how they drift apart because of life’s circumstances. Even though they may connect via social media, they still pine for the physical connection and the deep bond they once shared. The 3 parts represents different stages of life.
In childhood everything is pure and innocent, during teenaged years, things are more exciting and curious, and adulthood unexpected events occur and life can become too stressful.
Takaki and Akari attend the same school and become close friends because of their similar personalities. They both love each other and as they age, they never reveal their true feelings for each other.
After elementary school, Akari moves with her family to another place but keep in touch with Takaki. Takaki decides to meet with Akari after his family has to move.
They meet and spend the night together and kiss for the first time. The two write each other letters but Takaki loses his and Akari never deliver hers to Takaki. But they made a promise in childhood that has kept them bound that when they get older together, they will one day see the cherry blossoms fall at a train station.
During high school, Takaki keeps thinking of Akari and writes to her constantly but always delete the emails without sending. He is so consumed by his memories and love of Akari that he does not pay any attention to other girls who show and interest in him.
In the 3rd part of the story, they do visit the train station but however things really haven’t been the same in adulthood. Takaki is a programmer but his life is pretty dull and dreary and he just recently broke up with his girlfriend.
Akari is preparing to be married to someone else. Through sheer coincidence, they see each other in the train station at the same area they had vowed to see the cherry blossoms fall together. Unfortunately, they never meet as passing trains came between then and when Takaki finally has a clear view of the other side, Akari had gone.
The visuals, art and animation are perfect and absolutely flawless. The background designs were very rich and each scene was beautifully rendered. The character designs were nicely drawn and their movements were very fluid.
I really liked the musical score of the film and it really suits the intimate and somber atmosphere of the movie. The voice acting was serviceable in the English dub while the audio and sound effects were outstanding.
The second part of the story was really just padding and filler where hardly anything happens besides showing things are different for Akari and Takaki in high school. Akari was sort of placed in the back burner in focus of Takaki and another character Kanae. Kanae Sumida is main character in the manga but she doesn’t get as much time in the movie. Kanae secretly loves Takaki but he pines for Akari and does not notice her.
The ending was anti-climactic and it was a real shame that Takaki and Akari never got together or had a meaningful conversation as adults. Also, one of the biggest annoyances was the trains cutting out the view of Akari and Takaki from seeing the cherry blossoms together. The abrupt ending was a bit of a turn off and leaves the viewer wondering what if and why Akari left without speaking to Takaki.
The books give a lot more in-depth information about the characters and their backgrounds. A lot of the backstory in the film was sparse and you are expected to know who is who. One of the biggest plot hole was why did Akari and Takaki stopped keeping in contact with each other. It gets a 4 out of 5 blossoms.
The film came out in the mid to late 2000s and out of all anime that was released in that decade, this is the absolute best out of all of them. If you really like art-oriented films, you would really enjoy Five Centimeters Per Second.
This review is certainly one of the more visually directed ones forgive me if it is overwhelming.