Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I'm actually not an avid manga/anime fan and those I like, I love. But besides that, I don't catch up as easily as, say, Korean dramas and movies. Maybe because I'm not that familiar. After watching Chibi Maruko-chan which is exactly the type of things I'm enjoying now, I begin to wonder about what Japan can do with their animes. I can't point my finger to any because I don't know any, besides Spirited Away and Castle in the Sky which are the works of Japan's Walt Disney, the famed master, Hayou Miyazaki. So, I decided to search for quality Japanese anime films with a story I might enjoy, or at least universal. I know that people who watch say Korean movies or dramas might not be able to enjoy some of the storyline because of cultural differences. Realizing that I don't really know much about Japanese cultures, I chose 5cm/s.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicTurns out the title 5 Centimeters per Second comes from the trivial fact that cherry blossoms fall at the rate of 5cm/s. Great trivial fact, by the way. The season of spring becomes the setting for the very first scene in the movie. After quickly reading some of the reviews of this movie, one thing that is said the most is how beautiful this movie is. Right off the bat, you can see exactly what they mean. The director, Makoto Shinkai, is well known for his fantasy and science fiction animes. Just so you know, 5cm/s is far from it. But his love for space adventure can be seen throughout the movie with his amazing illustrations of the sky, day and night. One of the three chapters in this movie is called "Cosmonaut". The story of this chapter doesn't really have much to do with an astronaut but there is a rocket. Does that count?

When watching a movie, we can't leave out the story. The official title of 5cm/s is 5 Centimeters Per Second: a chain of short stories about their distance and that's exactly what it is. The story depicts the life of Takaki Tono and the three women he meets in his life. The movie is separated into 3 parts or chapters. I will try not to give out much spoilers but if you absolutely hate spoilers, just don't read on.

The first one is titled "Cherry Blossoms". One day, Takaki got a letter from an old friend of his, Shinohara Akari. I especially like this chapter because it actually has a lot of meaning. How Takaki and Akari seems like they were meant to meet and be friends. The cliched a boy and a girl can't just be friends. It's a very sweet first love story. The saying that a man's first love will linger until the day he dies might as well be true for Takaki as we continue on with the story.

The second chapter is called "Cosmonaut". I guess the reason it's called that is only because the setting is Tanegashima, which apparently has a space center. The point of view is then shifted to Kanae Sumida who has a one-sided love with Takaki. I begin to question where the movie is heading. I then summarized that Takaki still loves Akira. But for the most part, Akira wasn't mentioned in this chapter and just continued on with the story between Kanae and Takaki.

The last chapter, "5 Centimeters per Second" is amazingly confusing. The only highlight was the song that became the background music. The title is One More Time, One More Chance by Masayoshi Yamazaki. This chapter became like a wrap-up of the whole story. Sadly, it doesn't really mean anything and it left me dazed and confused when all of the sudden the credits started playing. It left me with many questions, especially what happens with the three characters. I actually felt that the scenes flashing was like the music video for the song. But I absolutely love the song, especially its lyrics.
I am always searching somewhere for you
At the intersection, in a dream
Even though I know you won't be here
The lack of storyline might actually be a big plus for this movie. It really shows those small, beautiful moments in life that we sometimes take for granted. The three characters had the same emotions that I can relate to, and I'm pretty sure many of us too. I was watching it and thought "Wow, this movie is almost exactly like me." In a way it became a reflection of ourselves. I hate the feeling of not having a solid storyline but I love how Shinkai can capture those precious life moments that feels like only ourselves can understand. The characters aren't really given an identity. For a regular plotted movie, this will be a big thumbs down. But I guess it's a plus for a movie that focuses on the subtle emotions rather than solid story lines.

Overall, I loved this 2007 movie. The illustrations are amazing, though I have to say Shinkai isn't really a character illustrator. His characters look oddly similar. But it's then overshadowed by the work done on the landscape. It's really precious. I also love the ending song. Very memorable and got me thinking a lot. But the way the movie is wrapped up can be better and not simply sticking to mushing in all the important moments from beginning to end in 5 minutes. Take this movie lightly because it's one that you must watch with your heart and feast with your eyes. Enjoy!

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