‘5 Centimetres Per Second’ by Makoto Shinkai is a film that stayed with me. So much so, that 5 days later I found myself watching it again.
This film is truly living and breathing and that is what makes it so breathtakingly brilliant. It allows the viewer to take from it whatever they wish – it doesn’t try to evoke emotions. They let it be. That alone allows each viewer to have a truly personal response. And that is where the beauty truly lies.
The main themes are distance and time and it is the combination of the two which creates a base for the story. Explaining the story, even briefly, would not only ruin it but I feel it would be an injustice to the film. All you need to know is that “Makoto Shinkai paints a breathtakingly vivid tableau of young love, desire, loss and hope. Told in three heartbreaking chapters, we follow the young dreamer Takaki through his life as cruel winters, cold technology, silence, and, finally, adult obligations and responsibility converge to crush the delicate petals of true love.” It is a simple and honest story but that is what makes it so excellent.
When I first watched this film, my physical reaction was much more than I ever could have expected. I felt somewhat broken – my chest physically hurt and, as the saying goes, I felt like the carpet had been pulled from underneath my feet. The characters experiences, especially Akaki’s, pained me. It left me feeling quite down but at the same time, utterly exhilarated by what I had just seen.
The visual aspects are just stunning. In each frame, there is so much attention to detail, especially regarding the use and blend of colours. The frames were individually coloured on Photoshop and although the process was long, it really paid off – I can see why the film took a year and a half to create. I was taken aback by the framing and how the shots mimicked how a camera would work, with landscapes coming in and out of focus. Alongside this, the locations were based on the places that they were set which pushed the film further into reality, heightening its believability. You could quite easily watch this without any audio and be completely immersed in the story.
That said, the combination of visuals and audio really breathes life into this anime. The sound effects are truly realistic and are expertly blended alongside the soundtrack, which is perfectly suited, both lyrically and musically. The voice actors really bring the characters to life and, even though I don’t understand Japanese, I can still understand the intent of the characters without reading the subtitles.
Each element of this production has undoubtedly been carefully considered and the combination of all aspects work harmoniously together, creating an unforgettable experience.
The second time of viewing was completely different in comparison to when I first saw it. I felt more insightful, understanding and thoughtful. There was still an underlying sense of pain and the weight of the story, but it left me with a new experience. This in itself deserves praise. I’m inclined to believe that as daily life changes for the viewer, the experience of the film will change alongside it, creating a completely new and personal response every time it is watched. The second time, I was awed further by both the intricacies and the simplicity of the film and I look forward to watching it again.
I picked up this film purely by chance and was drawn in by the beautifully written and intriguing blurb. I went in with high expectations but I received something far greater than I ever could have imagined. I would like to thank the director, creatives, and other members who worked on this film for bringing ‘5 Centimeters Per Second’ into the world and sharing this story with us.
“Having a change of heart due to distance and time is universal and unavoidable.” – Makoto Shinkai
“I can’t help thinking that the speed everyone lives life at is always slightly different.” – Makoto Shinkai