It is easy to get lost in the film 5 Centimeters Per Second. Even with a runtime of only 63 minutes, the film written and directed by Makoto Shinkai is a beautifully animated and skillfully told story of life and love.
With a tagline “A chain of short stories about their distance,” the film tells the story of Takaki Tono at three different points in his life.
In the first act, we learn how Takaki meets and bonds with Akari Shinohara in elementary school. Akari soon moves away due to her parents’ jobs, but they keep in touch and plan to meet for the first time since separating. Takaki hopes to confess his feelings to her on this visit.
In the second act, Takaki is now in high school. A classmate of his, Kanae Sumida, is in love with him. This is despite Takaki only seeing her as a good friend and him seemingly writing to someone often on his phone. In the third and final act, we meet Takaki as an adult and learn what’s become of his and Akari’s friendship.
The film is a slice of life story in many ways. First, it is a realistic depiction of love and friendship. Sometimes wonderful and happy, other times lonely and bittersweet. In another way, the film is literally three slices of Takaki’s life. Presented as three distinct vignettes, each short peek into his life is just as engaging as the next.
There is definitely a sense of nostalgia that I’ve enjoyed in many recent television dramas and films I’ve seen. Reminiscing on good and bad or happy and sad times as all part of one’s memory is certainly a relatable and universal feeling.
The beautiful animation helps to emphasize that emotion by providing a certain ethereal quality to affecting scenes, of which the film contains many. Quiet and calm moments in the film speak the loudest in poignancy and sincerity.
While only a little over an hour, the film leaves you both satisfied and wanting more. The realistic and relatable experiences make it easy to jump into this world that Shinkai has created. While at the same time, you just want to stay here and learn and experience more of it.
With excellent animation and writing, 5 Centimeters Per Second is a wonderfully moving and realistic film about life all can understand and relate to, regardless of language.