5 Centimetres per second is a film written, directed and produced by Shinkai Makoto. Based on a novel by Shinkai Makoto. At least we know who deserves the credit, positive or negative, for the quality or lack thereof. Let’s take a look at 5 centimetres per second and see which it is.
I’ll try to talk about the story without spoiling anything major, but it’s not going to be easy. Basically, the narrative is cut into three time periods, separating it into three parts. The story opens with our protagonist, Takaki, receiving a letter from his best friend from elementary school, Akari, whom he hasn’t seen for half a year. The first part focuses on them keeping in touch and culminates in him taking the train to meet with her. After that it skips ahead to the end of secondary school and from there it skips to adulthood. The story is about the way their relationship changes over time with an emphasis on the challenges of time and distance on that relationship. And I have to give Shinkai credit, it is really well done. The drama is very natural, very relatable. It never feels contrived or forced. Another aspect I appreciated was that it’s not predictable. The course of events it goes over is completely realistic and makes sense, but it’s not what a work in this genre would usually do. The way they transition from one time period to another is a little odd, but effective. The film’s tone is absolutely flawless. The only real problem with the film from a story perspective is that some of the dialogue is kind of stilted and exposition heavy. The most obvious being from early in the film when one of Akari’s letters goes something like “I don’t know if you remember me. We last saw each other at our elementary school graduation. As you know, that was six months ago.” The first part is fine since people do talk like that, but the second is just forced.
This film has about three really well developed realistic characters, fortunately they’re the important ones, and a bunch of side characters who don’t do much but still feel like actual people from what little you see of them. A pretty substantial part of why the film works is that the characters are relatable. Their situation is familiar to just about anyone and the way they change over time is very natural. Even with the story skipping large periods of time, the character changes make sense and never feel like they were dictated by the plot.
The art is really stellar. The backgrounds are nicely detailed. The characters look good and the various miscellanea are all really well drawn. The film is very appealing from a visual perspective.
The voice acting is well done. Kondo Yoshimi, Hanamura Satomi and Mizuhashi Kenji all give good performances. As do the actors who voice the side characters. The music is used effectively to add to the atmosphere.
Th ho-yay factor is a 1/10. There is none in this.
That’s 5 centimetres per second. It’s a beautifully drawn movie with great drama, good acting and magnificent tone. Final rating 9/10. Check it out for a well done, but melancholy tale. Next week… you know, it’s been a while. Next week will be Kara no Kyoukai 4.