Byousoku 5 Centimeter
“a chain of short stories about their distance.”
Again, Makoto Shinkai blew me away. He is really the master of “wide open spaces” in animation. It is not so much the attention to detail as it’s really the cinematic scope of what he draws. The backgrounds have this sort-of emotion that conveys the beauty of this world, whether it may be a rural or a city setting. And so as you enjoy the sights and sounds of his new OVA offering, we also see very simple but heartfelt stories about three characters and their distance between each other.
5CM is a three-episode tale of three people, a guy and two girls, and how distances can make or break love and friendships. We start with two childhood friends, Takaki and Akari. They were very close to each other, but then after elementary school, they have to part ways. Akari moved to some town in Tochigi, while Takaki went to Tokyo. They still contact each other by letters, but then Takaki’s family will move much further away to Kagoshima. So Takaki agreed to meet her before that happens. It’s quite a long multiple train ride between Tochigi and Tokyo, and harsh snowy conditions delayed Takaki’s travel. Eventually they meet up, albeit late, and a very heartful reunion for the two. Takaki promised to still keep in touch, but eventually the letters dried out.
The second part is about Takaki, now in Kagoshima, and Kanae, a classmate who feels for him. They became close friends but Takaki still feels distant sometimes, as if he looks on to the horizons often. Kanae was trying to build up her courage to confess to him, but Takaki still thinks about Akari who is very far away. Takaki plans to go back to Tokyo to work after graduation, leaving Kanae behind.
The final part is about Takaki and Akari, now grown up. Akari is actually engaged to another man by now. Takaki has a girlfriend and have been exchanging text messages, but then she finally told him that their lives are so apart that their love for each other can’t work anymore. The anime ends with a music video-style piece, with the song “One more time, one more chance” by Masayoshi Yamazaki.
Can I say HD FTW? This is a prime example of why DVD can’t satisfy me anymore. This would have been so beautiful in high-definition, and it really shows in the preview. The downloadable teaser in the website is actually 720p, but then the original release is of course 480p in DVD. There seem to be no plans (yet) to bring this to either Bluray of HD DVD, and so my I’m quite sad to not see the whole thing yet in it’s real cinematic glory. Oh well, as if I already have an HDTV…
Seemingly this is also the only anime from Makoto Shinkai without a fantasy setting. It is very down-to-earth, but then again so were Beyond the Clouds and Voices of a Distant Star aside from the science. And… do you notice that all his works are about “distance”? Distance relationship stories really strike a tone on me for some odd reason, maybe because the longing for each other is so strong when people are far apart. This is a very effective and affective anime especially for someone who might miss a loved one from far away.
A pretty somber but emotional piece this is. I feel bad for Takaki and Kanae, they were pretty much broken by the end of the anime but I think it is implied that they should be able to move on after this. The whole anime is just within a span of an hour, and yet it has created very fleshed-out characters that you can somewhat relate to. Plus the animation and sound really livens up the emotional level, and so this is mighty fine viewing. Definitely a must-see.