Makoto Shinkai’s 5 Centimeters Per Second is a more sweet, sad mood piece than your general plot-driven movie. There’s a plot arc, but the story is more specifically about lack of action than action, and more about how the world changes people than about how people change the world. The basic synopsis goes a little something like this, Tohno Takaki and Shinohara Akari have been close since elementary school, but after Akari moves away with her family, they struggle to keep in touch and find the time to see each other.
It’s easy enough to wax on and on about how good the art and animation in 5 Centimeters Per Second is, and while it is an achievement worthy of a massive amount of acclaim, what ultimately defines a film is its story. And while I was left in awe at the artistic component of 5 Centimeters Per Second, the story-telling isn’t quite on the same level as the visuals. 5 Centimeters Per Second is emotional and heart-wrenching in part because it deals with simple, universal issues. A boy and girl meet, fall in love, and are forced to leave each other. These are things that cross cultural contexts, and understanding this, Shinkai weaves a story that is neither melodramatic nor unrealistic.
What I didn’t approve of was the fact that the ending offered no real resolution. There’s simply no solid wrap-up. The film shows a montage (which is, in my opinion, one of the laziest story-telling techniques in cinema) and then cuts to the credits. 5 Centimeters Per Second is worth watching for the art alone. But, to add a bit of cake to the icing, the first chapter is also outstanding, presenting a touching and innocent romance filled with powerful gestures and heart-warming moments.
Shinkai has commonly been compared to Hayao Miyazaki, simply because there’s no higher standard in Japan as far as fantastically rich and detailed artwork and similarly rich wells of emotion. Here he continues to meet Miyazaki’s standards, delivering a piece that’s recognizably like his other work yet strikingly unique and distinct from anyone else’s. As an artist, I appreciate this movie more on a visual level but anime fans everywhere will enjoy this movie. It gets a healthy recommendation from me. Also, fun fact I learned, the title of the movie refers to the rate at which cherry blossoms fall. Very Cool! Recommended.
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