5 Centimetres Per Second is an hour long. Normally, films that are that length are direct to DVD horror/action flicks that didn’t have the budget to make it longer, but this film is different. The story is told through three segments, each presenting a different snapshot of a life. There are three characters that 5 Centimetres Per Second focuses on, with two being the main characters, and one being the focus of the second segment only. It’s very hard to write this review without giving anything away, as the best way to go into it is completely in the dark about what is coming.
All you really need to know is, 5 Centimetres Per Second is utterly brilliant. It’s a masterpiece, a work of beautiful art, a film that will leave more impact in an hour than 90% of Hollywood films do in two. I cannot emphasise enough that you should see this film. Read on if you like, but everything you need to know is in this first paragraph. See it, see it, see it.
This plot of 5 Centimetres Per Seconds is going to be a short one, because the film has key pot points which serve as the only real plot points, which means revealing more than a couple means a high risk of spoilers, something that is very bad in this case. The film revolves around a boy named Takaki (David Matranga) and a girl named Akari (Hilary Haag), and their life with each other, and apart. They meet in school, and become close friends. However, a series of troubles and problems prevent from really seeing each other and gently start to drift apart. I cannot reveal any more than that, because half of the film would be spoiled. Instead of focusing on the details of 5 Centimetres Per Second, let’s just say it’s one of the most finely crafted stories in an anime I have ever seen.
The characters in 5 Centimetres Per Second are not just 3-dimensional, more like 6-dimensional. The way we see their pain, grief, excitement, happiness, sadness, and every detail of their emotions makes this one of the finest examples of characterisation in an animated feature, or just a film in general. And yes, it’s impossible not to compare this with Miyazaki’s films, as this seems to be protocol for any anime that’s a romance story. The fact is, you can’t compare it to Miyazaki. It’s an utterly different type of film. Miyazaki makes films geared towards children, or are at least children-friendly or based around children. Sure, Princess Mononoke (which is his most violent and darkest film) is not exactly Toy Story, but children can still enjoy it. The same cannot be said for this film. It’s a story which, while not unsuitable for children, is very subtle and reserved, despite it’s 60 minute running time.
The animation of 5 Centimetres Per Second is simply stunning. Some of the best non-CGI animation ever. It’s a great achievement when all throughout the film I was thinking that every single shot (and I’m not exaggerating when I say every shot) could be the poster and it would be perfect. It hasn’t got any big set pieces, but every shot is perfectly framed, coloured, and drawn. The music, voice acting (although it is very patchy in the English dub), sound effects, and editing are all masterful in a way that I haven’t seen in a long time.
5 Centimetres Per Second may not be everyone’s favourite film, but it’s certainly mine. The direction, animation, and everything you can think of are expertly pulled off here. It’s the kind of film that makes you glad to be alive. Not so much for the story, but just to able to witness this incredible film. It left me in a state of sadness, happiness, and everything in between more than any film has in a long while.