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5 Centimeters Per Second

秒速5センチメートル, Japan, 03 March 2007, Raymond Santos Estrella

“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life” —Oscar Wilde, The Decay of Lying

During one spring in elementary school, Shinohara Akari had told her friend Toono Takaki that sakura petals fall at a speed of five centimeters per second. At the time, she had commented on how it looked like snow and had hoped that they could see it together the next year. However, the two had been separated after graduating elementary school and keep in touch only through letters. Akari starts writing to Takaki half a year after graduation, though soon it seems that the distance between them would grow even more because Takaki has to move from Tokyo all the way to Kagoshima. As fall and winter pass by, Takaki thinks about going to see Akari in Tochigi before he has to move away. They eventually decide on a date, March 4th, and Akari mentions in her letter that there’s a sakura tree near her home.

Warning! The following summary contains spoilers.

Story

When the day arrives, Takaki has the train ride out to Tochigi all planned out. Akari had said in her letter that she’d be waiting at the train station at 7PM, but Takaki notices that it has started to snow that afternoon when he boards the first train. As he begins his journey, Takaki remembers how he and Akari had spent so much time together when they were together because of how similar they were—they both transferred into their elementary school and both preferred the library. They had been teased by their classmates for being a couple, but they weren’t afraid as long as they had each other. The two of them had thought that they’d end up going to the same junior high school, but that didn’t happen. Takaki then remembers then night when Akari had called him up to tell him that she was transferring schools. She had apologized, but he was helpless to do or say anything.

Takaki’s uneasiness suddenly starts to grow when he finds out that the heavy snow is delaying the trains. As he continues his trip towards Iwafune in Tochigi, the delays mount and it’s soon 7PM. He thinks that Akari must be getting anxious, but soon his thoughts go back to the day she called him to tell him that she was transferring schools. He feels ashamed that he wasn’t able to use gentle words towards her who was so much more insecure at the time. Although he’s going to see her now, he spent two weeks also writing her a letter that he’s brought with him. When Takaki loses this letter to the wind after he reaches into his pocket to get his wallet to buy a drink at a station, he still continues on. Things get worse when the train he’s riding stops completely because of the snow—he’s now almost two hours late.

It takes two more hours for the train to get moving again, and Takaki spends the time trying not to cry. He eventually arrives at Iwafune at 11:15PM and expects Akari not to be waiting anymore. Thus, Takaki is surprised to find her still there, asleep in the waiting room of the station. She cries when he wakes her and the two share the bento that she prepared. When he declares that it’s the most delicious thing he’s ever eaten, she thinks that he just feels that way because he’s hungry. The station manager soon indicates that he’s closing up, so the two have to leave. Akari leads Takaki to a solitary tree out in a field of snow—it’s the sakura tree she mentioned in her letter. The two then experience the sensation of spring as Akari catches a snowflake in her hand and thinks of it as a sakura petal. She even compares it to snow, just like she had done when they were young. It is under this tree that Akari and Takaki gravitate towards each other and kiss.

At that moment, Takaki feels that he could understand where his heart and soul are and can share his experiences, but in the next moment, he becomes unbearably sad. He realizes that they can’t stay together and that there’s an overpowering life and endless time ahead of them. However, the uneasiness that has a hold on him melts away until only Akari’s soft lips remain. Akari hugs him after the kiss, and the two end up spending the night together in a shed after talking for a long time. When Takaki has to leave on the morning train, Akari tells him that he’ll definitely be ok from now on. As the train pulls away, Takaki asks her to take care and write and call. Takaki thinks to himself that he didn’t tell Akari about the letter that he was going to give her, but later lost. What he doesn’t know is that she also had a letter with his name on it that she didn’t give him. Takaki feels that the world changed because of the kiss and he now wants the strength to protect her. As he thinks about only that, Takaki continues to watch as the scenery goes by outside the window.

Conclusion

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from this other than some really amazing animation quality, and I think it’s safe to say that that lived up to expectations. The backgrounds and landscapes in this are easily some of the best I’ve ever seen animated. The music was also as good as that on the trailers, though I wish that particular piano song had been played for longer. However, if the story sucked, then the production quality wouldn’t matter. Fortunately, that was far from the case.

Throughout much of it, I thought that Takaki wouldn’t make it to see Akari and that the first part would end in disappointment. The narration was done in such a way that it was like I could almost feel Takaki’s frustration and pain. Instead though, Takaki was able to see his childhood love and the two got one night together before having to separate. I loved all of the recurring themes and symbols like the snow and the bird, and how the beginning and the (near) end of the episode tie together with Akari saying that the sakura petals falling are like snow. Of course, all the snow and sakura petals also make for some beautiful scenes to complement the story. Still, if I had one complaint about this first part, it would probably be that it started a bit too fast and complicated. All the flashbacks had me confused enough so that I didn’t catch on how quickly time was passing by until Akari’s third or fourth letter. But maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention at the beginning.

This review is incomplete. I’ve only detailed the first of this three-chapter film. To be honest, I just don’t have the strength—emotionally and intellectually—to complete it. 5cm is, for lack of better words, painful to watch. I mean that in the best way. There are probably only a handful of films that can evoke this kind of reaction from me and 5cm is definitely one of them. The story is just so gut-wrenchingly painful and the artwork evokes such a powerful reaction from me that I can’t really bear to watch it all over again for the purpose of completing this review. I’m sorry. I’d rather not explain myself. Let’s save that for a face-to-face conversation. Just trust me that this review is precariously close to being terribly subjective. Please don’t ask me for any more information on email or the comments. Let’s leave things as is. Thanks!

Trailer

Share This Review

Comments (54)

  • Warukyure

    Warukyure

    19 February 2007 at 00:44 |

    I really love Makoto Shinkai’s other OVAs and I hope this one lives up to the rest. One of the things I wanted to be in this OVA was the “War”-theme in the back. Like Hoshi no Koe had the war in space with aliens in the back and Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho E had the war between the North and the South. But it looks as if this new one doesn’t have it.

    Does Tenmon still do the music for this OVA?

    reply

  • tyrea

    tyrea

    19 February 2007 at 00:45 |

    link please!!!!

    reply

  • Katya

    Katya

    19 February 2007 at 00:46 |

    Wow……..the animation quality is beautiful.

    Although I’ve never heard of this anime. Is it good?

    reply

  • WarHammeR

    WarHammeR

    19 February 2007 at 01:10 |

    best anime I’ve have ever seen

    reply

  • TripleA

    TripleA

    19 February 2007 at 01:15 |

    Yep, Byousoku 5 Centimeter could very well be the best anime movie of the year. *shakes stick at EVA remake*

    reply

  • JS

    JS

    19 February 2007 at 01:21 |

    It was…touching. TwT

    reply

  • nowhere man

    nowhere man

    19 February 2007 at 01:29 |

    Good God, those stills alone are gorgeous.

    Good to know there’s a blogger out here covering it. I’ll be sure to tune in to see how you enjoyed the rest of it. ;)

    reply

  • tensai_otaku

    tensai_otaku

    19 February 2007 at 02:03 |

    BUY ON DVD?????????????????????????????????
    I will ” BUY ” the torrent… It’s cheaper!!!!!!! :P

    reply

  • Arenae

    Arenae

    19 February 2007 at 02:19 |

    Can’t wait till it comes out!!

    reply

  • Likkun

    Likkun

    19 February 2007 at 02:41 |

    Good thing you were finally able to catch a glimpse Raymond. The animation quality on this is really tear worthy. I can only imagine how nice it’ll be to watch this on DVD though. As for the story, it works well with the animation, so I’m content.

    reply

  • Shippoyasha

    Shippoyasha

    19 February 2007 at 02:42 |

    Can anyone really call this a ‘movie’ though? It’s more like an OVA material even if they show it in theaters. It’s a short movie at best.

    I think it could be cool to play this in my HDTV or something, but other than that, I don’t know what to think about the small feature. I’ll wait until they bring it all together in Bluray or HD-DVD in the future.

    reply

  • Raymond Santos Estrella

    Raymond Santos Estrella

    19 February 2007 at 03:06 |

    I guess that depends on your definition of movie, but I agree with you this felt more like an OVA. It even had a satisfying enough conclusion that still makes me want to see the other parts, but perhaps not as much as if it ended on a cliffhanger.

    reply

  • Bamse

    Bamse

    19 February 2007 at 03:08 |

    Byousoku 5 Centimeter—01

    01? will it be more ?

    reply

  • DarkS Umbreon

    DarkS Umbreon

    19 February 2007 at 03:47 |

    Wow… O_O… the art in this looks amazing! It seems to have blown the pants off of KyoAni, whom I had regarded had the best art in all anime! Can’t wait to watch this myself!

    reply

  • Yume

    Yume

    19 February 2007 at 04:29 |

    yaay… i can’t wait to watch Byousoku 5 Centimeter in sub .. =3

    reply

  • Mutio

    Mutio

    19 February 2007 at 05:17 |

    Holy **** What an quality! Definetely DVD buy, but where can I get the DVD (import of course)?
    Raymond, do you know which kind of techniques they are using for the animation? I guess most is computer generated.

    reply

  • hashihime

    hashihime

    19 February 2007 at 05:27 |

    Yes, it might be the best half-hour of animated drama I’ve ever seen, too. Sound, sight, and story all work together beautifully to produce what is like a religious experience. Somehow conveys the truth of things. Real Art.

    I like SF, but I found myself preferring this to his other work. The simplicity of it made the feelings come through better for me, without confusing plot or technology (except for the great scenes on and around the trains).

    reply

  • verityisle

    verityisle

    19 February 2007 at 08:08 |

    Definitely better than his SF, imo. These are two people in love. They’re separated. It’s about sheer longing, and needs no explanation for plot devices. (Shinkai’s not so hot on fleshing out his technology, I find)

    The visuals are incredibly beautiful. I believe this is what you show people when they say 2D animation is in the past : the way you use computers to create dazzling beauty. It’s way shinier and prettier than any 3D CGs I’ve seen.

    reply

  • GStrike-

    GStrike-

    19 February 2007 at 08:48 |

    omfg it finally came out!

    reply

  • takanari

    takanari

    19 February 2007 at 09:02 |

    Yay

    reply

  • coriel

    coriel

    19 February 2007 at 09:20 |

    waaaaaahhhhh T_T i completely forgot about this!!!!!!!!!!!! is there a torrent out yet? i need to watch this!!!!!!!

    reply

  • recuerdo

    recuerdo

    19 February 2007 at 10:06 |

    Good serie. I really like it.

    If you want to see the episode in japanese you can see in youtube.
    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV0cm050lus
    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drBhJcVDpQ0
    Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiOXhKZZ4Y4

    reply

  • Kuya

    Kuya

    19 February 2007 at 11:30 |

    What I want to know is the name of the piano piece from the original trailors. That piece was quite lovely =3

    reply

  • muhi_kira

    muhi_kira

    19 February 2007 at 13:12 |

    OMG!!! this anime so romantic
    i thought akari had gone to her home and can’t meet with takaki anymore
    but she waited takaki until he came “so romantic”
    and i like the last part which takaki said to himself he will protect akari
    waited for the subs ^_^

    reply

  • Totali

    Totali

    19 February 2007 at 13:34 |

    I can’t wait to see this. I’ve been waiting for it ever since the trailor came out!

    reply

  • psychohare

    psychohare

    19 February 2007 at 15:36 |

    sweet! im downloading chinese subbed version right now! cant believe how time flew so quickly, it’s already february, and waiting for 5cm hasnt been that painful.
    so when will the 2nd episode be out? does anyone have any idea?
    on a sidenote: Happy Chinese New Year to all Chinese lurkers like me! Got Pork?

    reply

  • Haine

    Haine

    19 February 2007 at 18:28 |

    n__n

    reply

  • keith

    keith

    19 February 2007 at 22:00 |

    I am gonna watch this show, the animation is just too good.

    reply

  • Belle Starlia

    Belle Starlia

    19 February 2007 at 22:42 |

    Makes me wish I lived in Japan… because I’d love to see this on the big screen — it’s one of the few movies that I’ve ever felt needed to be watched on the big screen. I love the music, too, and love the piano piece — short as it is. I hope it’s the incomplete version, because I’d like to hear the whole track, but you never know. It’ll probably be awhile before I can see the whole story complete, but hopefully they’ll release the soundtrack very soon to keep me occupied, because I’m buying that.

    reply

  • wahahaha

    wahahaha

    19 February 2007 at 23:00 |

    I’m much impressive with his new anime with the perfect storyline animetiongraphic sound and music Its reach my heart.The true love can’t divided by the distance.Its can explain by this story.

    reply

  • wontaek

    wontaek

    19 February 2007 at 23:23 |

    My wife has spoken and I am at a loss to give her any rebuttal. Her comments.

    1. Such high quality graphic, yet why such old fashioned directing/editing?
    2. Good dialogue, yet for a movie of this quality, shouldn’t we be able to feel the emotions and the situation from the scenes and facial expression changes?
    3. Much time has been invested in beautiful scenes, yet why so little movements for the main character after the initial running scene, and was all the scenary neccessary?
    4. The monologue and flashback narrates for us the connections between the two, but isn’t the movie relying too much on the narrations to describe the situation, thus hard to fully symphathize with the characters.
    5. Do trains really stop at the middle of no where for such lengthy delays? Don’t they usually not leave the train station and wait things out before moving to the next station if they feel anything to be wrong at the next station or in the way to the next station?

    She gave this movie episode A+ for the graphic/animation, and D+ for pretty much everything else other than music.

    reply

  • wontaek

    wontaek

    19 February 2007 at 23:31 |

    Allow me to better explain the point. Much emotions were stated by the narrations but seldom were those emotions seen in the people’s faces. If this story is about the relation between people, shouldn’t we see them more than the background scenes?

    reply

  • Era

    Era

    20 February 2007 at 00:03 |

    is this a series? cuz I really thought it was a movie

    reply

  • Shippoyasha

    Shippoyasha

    20 February 2007 at 01:15 |

    Again, it’s basically a short movie in a part of mini-movies of the same ilk.

    And Wontaek, I believe they used the scenery to pretty much convey the feeling of isolation and not really the individual characters’ backgrounds or story necessarily. And I’ve been on trains that went on longer delays than that. Especially in snow storms.

    As for the movie itself:

    I just watched it and I must say that the movie struck a nerve with me. To the point of tears a few times. Why? Because it is very realistic. I had almost the same experience (minus the kiss and sleeping in a cabin) with a girl I used to be childhood friends with, and I can sympathize so much with how Takaki must have felt and how agonizing it can be just to live out your life like that and to lose friends to the flow of time.

    reply

  • The Crappinometer

    The Crappinometer

    20 February 2007 at 02:29 |

    Makoto Shinkai FTW!!!

    reply

  • quina

    quina

    20 February 2007 at 03:06 |

    The animation looks good.

    so what’s this anime about?
    Some drama-romance?

    reply

  • tyrea

    tyrea

    20 February 2007 at 04:12 |

    is the single for “One more time, one more chance” already released?

    reply

  • jesus

    jesus

    20 February 2007 at 05:09 |

    Does anybody have any information on when this will be on DVD?

    reply

  • thedarkhorse

    thedarkhorse

    20 February 2007 at 05:20 |

    The single “One more time, one more chance” will be released on March 3 as a maxi-single, I believe. As for when the movie’s coming out on DVD…patience. it won’t be for a while.

    reply

  • Jussi

    Jussi

    20 February 2007 at 07:13 |

    Yay! Can’t wait for the subs, this looks awesome!

    reply

  • mitsuki

    mitsuki

    20 February 2007 at 10:06 |

    i think this is going to be a good anime! i’m really glad that it finally came out.

    reply

  • Dan

    Dan

    20 February 2007 at 11:13 |

    I have the same watch takaki has. As I was watching the episode, since the watch came up so many times, I finally realized, “Hey! That’s the same watch I had! Yay!”

    Cosplay time.

    reply

  • Jeanette

    Jeanette

    20 February 2007 at 20:22 |

    the art looks pretty!! :3

    reply

  • Tonicart

    Tonicart

    21 February 2007 at 01:33 |

    I’ve been wanting to see this since I saw the preview in 1280×720 last November :)

    reply

  • dadada

    dadada

    21 February 2007 at 08:58 |

    @tyrea

    actually, ‘one more time & one more chance’ is an old song, check out the wikipedia for Yamazaki Masayoshi

    reply

  • mario

    mario

    22 February 2007 at 00:38 |
  • adenread

    adenread

    01 March 2007 at 06:16 |

    Loveed watching it. but thnk it was too overhyped, so i was expecting a lot more.

    reply

  • VerbatimEX

    VerbatimEX

    07 March 2007 at 18:14 |

    Note to self…

    Makoto Shinkai can really give a good anime based on his last project,
    the problem is he would leave you hanging and let you think.

    I don’t Think were going to have a TakakiXAkari Reunion on this one.

    Probably one of the saddest anime I have ever seen.

    Note to Self…

    If Tomino wants to be Chased with Torches or Pitchforks…again

    He should use Fukuda or Makoto Shinkai to ruin it all LoL

    reply

  • excal

    excal

    11 March 2007 at 02:41 |

    Such a beautiful and amazing OVA.

    reply

  • OmegaStealth

    OmegaStealth

    27 March 2007 at 04:18 |

    This looks to be a really great film—watched the sub of the first part, enjoyed it immensly. Can’t wait to see the rest…
    Amazing animation, great detail, but still manages to keep the focus on the story and the characters without outshining the visuals, which can easily happen in many movies.

    reply

  • Syaoran Li

    Syaoran Li

    29 March 2007 at 01:34 |

    I felt in lvoe again with anime… ^^

    reply

  • Hello

    Hello

    01 June 2007 at 02:40 |

    When is the next one coming out? o_O

    reply

  • Fiona

    Fiona

    27 November 2007 at 19:36 |

    hi, where can you get this anime

    reply

  • The Infinite Zenith

    The Infinite Zenith

    03 March 2011 at 19:34 |

    Your images seem to have a yellowish tinge to them >_<

    reply

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