5 Centimetres Per Second [Anime Review – Romance / Slice of Life]October 26, 2018
Note: Review copy supplied by Manga Entertainment
Title: 5 Centimetres Per Secon
Anime Studio: CoMix Wave Inc.
Publisher: Manga Entertainment
Genre: Romance / Slice of Life
Released: October 29th 2018
Language: English / Japanese
Length: 59 Minutes
Extras: English credits, Trailer, Teaser, Storyboards, Music Video, Makoto Shinkai Interview, Cast Interview
Beginning with the lyrical image of cherry blossoms falling at five centimeters a second Makoto Shinkai paints a breathtakingly vivid tableau of young love, desire, loss and hope. Told in three breathtaking 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. Finding beauty in everyday objects and moments Shinkai reveals he is a master of animation and haunting beautiful storytelling. Fall in love with this gorgeous thoughtful film hailed by critics and audiences alike for its beauty truth and innovation in animation.
Director Makoto Shinkai is one of those names that sits along the likes of Mamoru Hosoda as being one of the golden talents of the current anime era. If you want proof of this, you need only look to his most recent release, Your Name, which is (at time of writing) the highest grossing anime film of all time. This 2007 release was also very well received upon release, and it’s not hard to see why. From a visual standpoint alone, the film is an absolute marvel. The characters themselves are relatively simple in design, with their mundane nature sitting perfectly against the realistic story. Most the time, while shadow and light is used effectively to catch things like folds in clothing, they’re only given a simplistic two or three colour tones, which works surprisingly effectively when set against the backdrops. And believe me, the scenery here is truly stunning. From cherry blossoms to snowscapes, trains to surf boards, everything in the world looks remarkably real. Somehow, that contrast works too, with the less detailed character work popping amongst the scenery rather than blending in, yet never leaving them feeling disjointed. It’s a real achievement, and one that is more than worthy of the near universal praise it received, even now.
In terms of story, it features many of what are seen as the staples of Makoto Shinkai’s work. Even at only his second feature film, he definitely had favourite narratives by this time, and the star-crossed lovers idea is on full show here. What I like though is that the film is not a typical anime romance. We’re not given the bordering on ridiculous comedy of a harem series, for example, but are instead given a slow burning tale of two people who are forced apart by life. With sections set in an era where mobile phones and e-mails were not as commonplace as they are now, it really does create a sobering reminder of how hard it could be to keep in contact before our growing reliance on technology really took off. And if that all sounds depressing, that’s because it is. The film is not a happy-go-lucky feel-good tale of easy love, but rather a heartbreaking story about how we change with the world around us, and how those changes can affect us and our relationships.
With the primary focus being on Takaki and Akari, you do find that both are relatively likable as characters. Takaki’s morose may be a little much for some, but he at least feels like an authentic lead. My favourite character though was Kanae, one of Takaki’s schoolmates in high school. She takes the focus of the second of the three arcs, and I really felt for her with her nervousness around Takaki. The one downside to this is that I felt like she wasn’t really given enough time to reach her full potential as a character in the film. This is somewhat rectified by the manga (release in 2010), wherein she gets a lot more attention and alternative ending arc set after the events of the film, hinting at a potentially happier ending for her.
But that’s the thing here. The ending is something has been a little divisive, even for those that loved the film. There isn’t a dead-set happy ending, but rather one that leaves itself open to interpretation. And with the different ways you could interpret it, whether it actually becomes a happy ending or not will also certainly depend on how you view your chosen conclusion. Meanwhile, this is also a dual language release. While the original Japanese voice cast do a stellar job, I do feel like the English language cast also held their own here. As to which voice cast this is, we get the Bang Zoom! Entertainment version featuring Johnny Yong Bosch, Tara Platt and Kira Buckland as Takaki, Akari and Kanae respectively. How this compares to the ADV release with David Matranga, Hilary Haag and Serena Vargheese in the same roles, I don’t know, as this is the only dubbed version I’ve seen.
Now, as to the package itself, there are an absolute ton of extras on this Blu-ray. When added to the overall video and audio quality, that really makes this a worthwhile purchase, even if you already own the DVD (which I believe only has the Makoto Shinkai interview).
And that’s about all you need to know here. 5 Centimeters Per Second is a release than was popular with anime fans and non-anime fans alike, and the visual quality of it still stands up well today. The story is by no means standard fare for the romance genre, which depending on your view will either a major selling point or the film’s greatest downfall. Regardless of your opinion on the nature of the story though, it’s very easy to get drawn into it as a piece of art. Throw in the mass of extras, and I have no hesitation in giving this release the full 5 out of 5.