5 Centimeters per Second [REVIEW]

reading time: ca. 3 min

»They say it's five centimeters per second. The speed at which the cherry blossoms fall.«

First off, 5 Centimeters per Second probably is the most beautiful anime ever (what's anime?), possibly the most beautiful film in general. I have seen most of Makoto Shinkai's works, and in my opinion this is his best anime yet. If i had to describe Shinkai's work in one single word it would be bitter-sweet. He is a master at portraying a realistic scenario that could happen any where, any day, and illustrating it in mesmerizing, soft pastel colours. Even though it is an animated film, it is more true to life than any live-action movie or documentary i know.

So, the plot. In a wistful tone 5 Centimeters per Second tells the tale of two people and their relationship during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Through the prism of a childhood cherry-blossom romance the film explores the themes of distance and loneliness, of holding on and letting go, longing and loving in a very gentle way that will make you think of my most beautiful sunrise memory and the most melancholic rainfall :) 

At it's core this is a story about moving on from past connections instead of just dwelling in the past, and about finding a way to become happy in the present rather than just pining for what has been lost over time. In this movie there are no "lucky circumstances", no happy-strange moments that would never occur in real life, and no good old fashioned Hollywood happy ending, as most of the viewers would expect. 

The movie comes in three parts (chapters) as we take this journey over 3 phases of life with main character Takaki, Akari, and Kanae with each phase dealing with a different aspect of the relationships. Though the three chapters differ quite a lot (and triggered controversial reactions), in my opinion all three fit their segment perfectly. Maybe i'm biased though. I just adore Shinkai's storytelling. It is poetic but not romantic, moving but not dramatic.


Shinkai takes his time unfolding his story. It is a quiet story, as quiet as a cherry petal coming off the blossom and swirling down to the ground in silent circles. Which reminds me of a song by Regina Spector. Leaves become most beautiful when they're about to die. Perhaps this is a good way to capture the film's atmosphere: the beauty of death, the beauty of life. 

Yes, this is a film that will make you think. About the friends you've drifted away from. About the things that could have been - that you could have done - that you could have been. About how different life might be now if you had managed to say or do what you wanted.

Lastly, the artwork is simply stunning. Moving clouds, blowing snow and grass, streets in drifting pink, dark and dreary city winters, and the golden glow of the countryside... Shinkai paints a detailed portray of human relationships, very simple but powerful. When i first watched an anime by Makoto Shinkai, which was Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011), i actually mistook him for Hayao Miyazaki at first. They both have a very straight-forward and pinpoint style of animation. But looking back i think Shinkai's style could be described as less "blunt" than Miyazaki's, and in a way more mature. His artwork is very precise. Words that come to mind are light-footed, subtle, fragile, soft, delicate, crisp, clear, to the point. So even if you're not one for anime or romance movies, this film is worth watching for the art alone.

As of right now you can watch the entire film in Japanese with English subtitles HERE (though i am lucky enough to own the whole thing with English dub, hehe!)

Film works by Makoto Shinkai that i watched and rated:
She and Her Cat (1999) 5/5
Someone's Gaze (2013) 4/5

I am also keen to watch his most recent work The Garden of Words (2013), but so far i haven't had a chance to. EDIT: i just finished watching it, and what can i say. the graphics are ever so beautiful, and so is the story (on rainy days a student skips classes and seeks refuge in a Japanese garden where he shares a peaceful shelter with a woman). it keeps amazing me how Shinkai manages to capture these little fragments of life and arranging them into mesmerizing, melancholic mosaics without getting sappy and sentimental. okay, there was this one cheesy moment in The Garden of Words, but the ending balanced it out again. (watch until the very end!) 4/5

Anime 101

And since i was in "anime mood" i thought it was time for an anime sketch. It's not as three-dimensional as my Naruto sketch, simply because i stuck more to the flat, "childish" animation style of the movie (Spirited Away, 2001). Using this image as reference, i drew a sketch of Chihiro + chubby mouse + fly-that-looks-like-a-tiny-bird:

Cherry blossoms in full bloom last only for 2 weeks. Just like life they are perishable and limited. So enjoy life as long as it lasts and cherish your one chance at living it ~


image source: (movie poster) (sakura trees) (telephone booth) (field) (train station) (crossing) (moped)


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