5 Centimeters per Second: anime review

Title: 5 Centimeters per Second
Genre: drama, romance
Released date: March 3, 2007
Running Time: 63 minutes
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Animated by: CoMix Wave Inc.
Comment: Directed by Makoto Shinkai whose previous works are Voices of the Distant Star and The Place Promised in Our Early Days, 5 centimeters per second is a three episode anime which tells the stories of few insignificant people whose lives are carried by the tides of changes. It is about time and distance that matter a lot between two people.

In the first episode Takaki and Akari are separated by only a train ride distance and they constantly write letters to each other. In the second episode, they are in different town and the distance between them clearly expands since they no longer in touch (for a while, I thought the girl had died horribly in a plane crash or something like that). In the last episode, the physical distance between them no longer exists since they are both in Tokyo but things have change so much that their reunion seems impossible. The scene at the railways at the end clearly confirms this. Despite the almost too conventional and simple main plot, the anime distinguishes itself from other anime by utilizing uncommon method of storytelling. The anime uses series of beautiful still images showing places related to the characters while only the voices of the characters can be heard telling how they are feeling and what’s happening. It’s like reading someone’s diary. What’s more, by shifting the focus to different lead character in the second episode, the anime as a whole seems incredibly more complex and intriguing.


Life changes as time goes by. The fact cannot be altered. What’s more important is how we deal with it. Akari represents people who let go, accept and move on. The anime hints that she marries and probably lives a happy life. While Takaki represents those people who cannot let go and holds on to their past even if it is already lost. He seems to be looking for some invisible thing all the time and he fails to notice anything else around him. In the last episode, although he seems to be successful in his work, he has an unhappy marriage and he is always miserable and tired. The most surprising thing about this anime is that nothing extraordinary happens at the end, no miracles. What is lost never returns. Takaki and Akari, both have their own family, never reunite. It is almost too sad and realistic. This unconventional ending makes 5 centimeters different from most of the romance anime I’ve seen.

5 centimeters per second looks and sounds incredibly amazing. The color, light and shadow are elaborately exaggerated that everything on screen is exceptionally beautiful. Believe it or not, even the wash machine looks pretty touched by sunlight. There are plenty of landscapes and wide screen shots. I believe the anime is trying to tell the viewers that there is beauty in everything, even in the most ordinary things. All we have to do is to open our eyes and see it. The original score by Tenmon is, as always, tear-jerking. I think shorter animes have their advantages because they are too short to make any fatal mistakes and they can create greater impact to the viewers in a ‘hit and run’ fashion. 5 centimeters per seconds is just like that. It hits me hard with breathing taking images, beautiful melodies and sad love story then it ends so abruptly and leaves me in a dream-like state. I think I’m falling in love.
Rating: A

8 responses to “5 Centimeters per Second: anime review

  1. The animation and the colors really does look quite incredibly beautiful.

    • Yes, really beautiful. Though I kind of hope that Makoto Shinkai might consider focusing on other theme but love in his future projects. It’d be really awesome, with this level of production.

      • hikarutsukino

        Agree 100%, in “hoshi no koe”me of the young man loging for the lost teenager love was really nice, the same theme in “the promised place” not so much, and AGAIN in “5 cms per second” was just too much. Someone give him a new idea or that the man accept someone else scrip, please.

  2. I just watched it as well, really beautiful art…the passby scene struck a chord in me…art does imitate life.

  3. I’m guessing u were crying so hard your vision was blurred so u didnt see u missed the + in your rating, One of the greatest anime out there ><

  4. Pingback: There are lots of sceneries but only few words in ‘The Garden of Words’: anime review | Canne's anime review blog

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