5 Centimeters per Second (Byousoku Go Senchimetoru), subtitled a chain of short stories about their distance. is without a doubt one of the best movies to come out of Japan in the last few years. It won Best Animated Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards and its no surprise.
The man behind it is Makoto Shinkai. The Japan Times called him a new Miyazaki, a very flattering comparison to the guru of Japanese animated films, Miyazaki Hayao. Although Shinkai still has some growing up to do, artist wise, I think he shows an unusually high potential and is bound to meet the expectations of any high-class anime devourer for years to come.
This one hour and three minutes film is about love and the pain separation causes. Because Shinkai tends to excel at shorts he split the movie into three parts.
The firs part, Okasho (Cherry Blossom Extract) tell the story of Takaki Tono and Akari Shinohara as they drift apart after graduating middle school. However they desperately try not to lose touch and face even harsh winter weather just to see each other.
The second (Cosmonaut) presents Takaki, now in highschool, as a supporting character. The main attraction is a girl names Kanae Sumita, a classmate of Takakis, who has a crush on him. However its unrequited love and her lack of sentimental accomplishment seems to reflect in the fact that shes unable to catch a wave. The ending might be a bit unsettling for some, but very touching.
Last but not least, part three. Byosoku 5 Centimeter is placed in 2008, a time where all three characters have gone their own separate way. Takaki is a computer programmer in Tokyo and about to get married. One day he meets a familiar face in the crowd, his first love, and his life might just change.
The entire movie is very touching. I was thrilled when I came upon it. Makoto Shinkai shows a different perspective to love and feelings. And for once, its not about the teenage angst or the love triangle, its about pure love, the real deal. The story is elegant and mature. The best was to summarize the movie is the hardest part of holding on is letting it go. Well, 5 Centimeters per Second is about moving on but at the same time cherishing what youve had. Its soft and gentle and it doesnt lose to the hardships of time.
I think the characters are very complex. You have to admit it, Takaki is very strong. He narrates most of the movie so we know what he thinks and feels. Its a pleasure to watch him grow from a lovesick middle school student to an adult about to get married.
I generally dont write much about the title but this is an exception. For those of you who dont know, it is said that a cherry blossom petal falls down with a speed of 5 centimeters per second. Shinkai does a fantastic job at taking this concept and applying it to love, how it grows or drifts away. The title also makes a reference to human condition, how we may start off together but in the end, go very different ways.
In his usual fashion, Makoto Shinkai also excels at colors. The panoramic views are so beautiful they take your breath away. The colors are sometimes a bit bright but they hit just the right note and you really get the feeling that nature is participating in the sentimental struggles the three go through. You can make prints with scenes from this film and hang them up on your walls. They are definitely one thing I want to see when I wake up every morning.
In the end, I have to say that Byousoku Go Sencimeetoru is one of the most mature and realistic films out there. Its not only beautiful, but its true to life.
Thats all for now.