Title: 5 Centimeters Per Second (Byousoku 5 Centimeter)
Episodes: 3 (OVA)
Company: Comix Wave
Air Dates: 3 March 2007
Synopsis: Takaki Tono and Akari Shinohara had always been really good friends since childhood. This friendship would eventually blossom into love, but as they got older, circumstances forced them to move further and further apart. The increasing distance between the two tests the strength of their love as well as their ability to deal with their daily life despite being so far apart.
- Absolutely gorgeous artwork and stunningly detailed animation
- Characters are easy to identify with in an excellent plot
- Music is absolutely beautiful and gives the scenes strong impact
- Ending might not be everyone’s cup of tea; somewhat underwhelming
Review: If there is anything that Makoto Shinkai’s works are known for, it is the amazing quality of the artwork as well as a plot revolving around distance and how it creates barriers to romantic relationships. 5 Centimeters Per Second follows this formula, while adding in a few shifts in the point of view to make it differ a bit from his previous works. Although this change in perspective fills up one episode, the focus is still on the protagonist Takaki Tono. By framing the story around Takaki, Shinkai has succeeded in creating a brilliant work that shows not only Takaki’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations in full detail, but also how those hopes prevent him from looking beyond the past.
Takaki’s inability to let go of the past is what makes him an identifiable and sympathetic character. As the story goes on his character flaws become all that much more apparent and the viewer can begin to identify the point at which his longing for Akari becomes an obsession that will not allow him to go on with his life. The way this change is presented to the viewer is definitely well done, especially by having the viewer look at this situation through Kanae’s, Takaki’s classmate, lens. Her narration and interaction with Takaki provides the viewer with an outsider’s view of how others perceived Takaki and allows for a well-rounded view of his character. It helps that Kanae is a deep character with her own set of motivations and goals and by watching her attempts to bond with Takaki, we gain some small degree of sympathy for her and see how she serves as an excellent contrast to Takaki.
The excellently done characters and plot have succeeded at tugging at our emotions, but the impact would not have been as strong if it weren’t for the stellar animation and the wondrous soundtrack. Shinkai’s animation had always been top-notch, and 5 Centimeters just keeps on pushing the bar higher. Every frame is just rich in detail, ranging from the lighting at the train station to the stunning beauty of watching cherry blossoms drifting along with the wind. The music also packs quite a punch with Tenmon at the helm. His melodies complement the scenes by strengthening the emotional impact and delivering an excellent soundtrack.
Finally, the ending lacks definitiveness. While it shows that Takaki’s life is in a rut, the OVA never really suggests that he breaks out of it. The last segment of the third episode consists of a series of flashbacks, while stunningly beautiful, does not really go anywhere. In light of how well done everything else was, the ending was just a tad bit underwhelming.
In spite of the ending, 5 Centimeters Per Second is solid all the way through. Every component works well to deliver a wonderfully romantic story that slowly becomes frayed by distance, from the breathtaking animation all the way to the soundtrack which complements each scene nicely. For people looking for a serious romance, you can’t go wrong with 5 Centimeters Per Second.
Score: Very Good