Makoto Shinkai’s 5 Centimeters Per Second is a tough film to review. First of all this Japanese animated movie was divided into 3 arcs and initially released separately as three 20 minute episodes in a release timeframe that was spread across a few months and the whole film was only 63 minutes long. The release schedule frustrated a lot including me who had to wait a couple of months for the next release. Nevertheless when the film was finally released in DVD and Blu-ray, I watched it in one sitting and since then have watched this countless times I actually lost count.
It’s hard to give a synopsis of this movie without giving too much away. There are only 3 characters in this movie, and the plot mainly focuses on a boy named Takaki. It’s a love story of sorts divided into 3 time periods, and without spoiling anything, it’s a sad one. There’s nothing truly groundbreaking here, but the execution is near flawless. The animation, music, dialogue and the pacing is very well done. The viewer is given ample time to reflect and think back on what just happened without being too melodramatic. The themes of love, separation, longing, acceptance, loss, regret and moving on are very well explored and artistically portrayed through music, dialogue and narration, as well as with the stunning backgrounds. Tenmon’s score is heartbreaking and even the subdued voice acting is haunting. Perhaps the one glaring flaw is the character designs which are unfortunately forgettable.
Overall, 5 centimeters per second is a beautiful movie (short film, miniseries or what have you). It’s sad, heartbreaking, powerful and will definitely tug at the heartstrings of even the most jaded person. Beware the abrupt ending though which makes the whole ordeal even more painful as the credits roll to Tenmon’s sad score.