5 Centimeters Per Second is probably one of the most memorable movies I have seen in a long time.
It's a movie created by the amazing director Makoto Shinkai. This man is also the genius behind Voices of a Distant Starand The Place Promised in Our Early Days. Hailed as the 'next Miyazaki' by The Japan Times, Makoto Shinkai has created a reputation for heartbreaking narratives with breathtaking visuals, particularly his landscapes.
*** SPOILERS AHEAD***
5 Centimeters Per Second is the speed at which cherry blossoms (sakura) fall from their trees. As they fall, they drift further from the tree and also from each other. It is a metaphor that can be applied to the lives of people. We grow and change and we drift from the places and people we knew as children. This is not limited to the physical location of a person but the psychological state they are experiencing at any given time.
Takaki and Akari become friends in elementary school as both are prone to illness and spend most of their time indoors while all the other children play outside. They plan to attend the same middle school, when Akari finds out her parents are moving the family to Tochigi which is quite far away from Tokyo. Akari leaves. 6 months later Takaki receives a letter from her and they begin to correspond via mail.
Eventually this leads to a trip to visit Akari out in Tochigi. His arrival is delayed because of heavy snow and late trains, but at the end of it all, Akari is still waiting for him at the train station where he finally arrives. Akari grabs the front of his coat and cries. They walk, and end up standing in front a snow covered Sakura tree where they share their first kiss. It occurs to Takaki that this is going to be the last time he'll ever truly be with Akari, that time and distance will ultimately separate them forever. Sadly, this is true.
5 Centimeters Per Second is separated into 3 chapters (episodes):
1. Cherry Blossom
3. 5 Centimeters Per Second
Personally I enjoyed 'Cosmonaut' the most, despite it not directly involving Akari. Instead it introduces a new character named Kanae Sumida as she struggles to find direction in her life and the strength to confess her love to Takaki, 'Tonokun'* as she calls him. In this part, Takaki has also now moved- to a town called Kagoshima- which increases the distance between him and Akari. Kanae develops feelings for Tonokun and they become friends much in the way Takaki and Akari might have, had they the opportunity to attend the same school. In the end, while Kanae does manage to conquer other challenges, she does not tell Takaki how she feels.
Tenmon composed the soundtrack for this movie, which isn't a surprise since he's done the music for all of Shinkai's major works. Tenmon's piano melodies are lovely and incredibly haunting. I am not a big fan of the song that is played during the ending's montage. This is a pretty soft kind of movie with soft colours and tender moments. The sound was a bit rough for it, but that's just my own opinion of course.
In any case, this is definitely one of my favourite movies and my favourite of Shinkai's movies (though Voices of a Distant Star comes pretty close). This movie makes me cry; I would compare it to Millennium Actress in terms of the emotion evoked by watching it (though Millennium Actress is a pretty different movie).
***ADV has gone out of business and so this movie release version is not longer available. However Bandai has picked up the license and so it's been re-released in a new version with new dubbing (done by Bang Zoom! Entertainment, at the request of the original Japanese distributor):5 Centimeters Per Second***
- Actors: Kenji Mizuhashi, Yoshimi Kondou, Satomi Hanamura, Ayaka Onoue, Risa Mizuno
- Directors: Makoto Shinkai
- Writers: Makoto Shinkai, Alex Von David, Steven Foster
- Producers: Makoto Shinkai, Jin Ho Chung, Joey Goubeaud, John Ledford
- Format: Animated, Color, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
- Language: Japanese, English
- Subtitles: English
- Dubbed: English
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: A.D.V. Films
- Release Date: March 4 2008
- Run Time: 65 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- ASIN: B00114UUOK
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #205,583 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)