5 cm per Second

Looking back, I can't quite recall why we even started to talk about Hayao Miyazaki when I sat down with Émilie during our break on the Friday night of last week. Which is kind of weird, if you ask me. But discuss Miyazaki we did, and by the end of that 15-minute break I was sold to the idea of giving his animated films a shot. Armed with a small piece of paper bearing the titles Princess Mononoke (Canada, USA, Europe) and Spirited Away (Canada, USA, Europe), with a heart drawn on it to signify that these two were her favorites, I made my way to the video store to see if I could find them.

By Sunday night, I had seen Princess Mononoke, and found both Spirited Away and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Canada, USA, Europe). I expected to enjoy the films. After all, Émilie held them in such high esteem that I figured they couldn't possibly be bad. Yet I never envisioned that I would enjoy them to such a degree. I don't know if it's because I distanced myself from Japanese animated features for a number of years, but all of a sudden I wanted more and more! It was all I could do not to track down every single Miyazaki movie.

But my initial fear remained, and remains still, if only to a certain extent. This genre, not unlike SFF, is filled with retarded shit. And I'm scared that one of these days I'll stumble upon a smelly turd I'll find so off-putting that it might just kill my renewed interest in the genre. But so far so good.

Wanting to take a little break from Hayao Miyazaki, lest I go through his entire body of work before the week is out, I elected to give you guys' suggestions a shot. I didn't really know what to go for, but I remembered that 5 cm per Second came with the highest possible recommendation.

Had anyone told me that evening sitting there with Émilie that in the span of about a week I would watch no less then four Japanese animated features and love each and everyone of them, I would have said you're crazy. But I did, and loved every minute of it! And based on the number of emails I've received recently, I know that many of you have rented some of them and enjoyed them as well. Hence, it mission accomplished as far as the Hotlist's main objective is concerned. Spreading the word about all that's good in SFF continues to be what I aim at.

Although quite different in style and tone, Makoto Shinkai's 5 cm per Second is as good as the three Miyazaki films I've seen thus far. Even better in some ways, as it's for a more mature audience. This film is comprised of three segments which follow the evolution of love and what it means to the characters at various points of their lives -- childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

I never would have thought that an animated feature would touch me in such a fashion. 5 cm per Second is a beautiful film. Visually stunning, yes, but it's the content which ultimately moves you. Takaki is the central character, meaning that he appears in all three arcs. But he's not necessarily the POV character in each one, and this diversity adds many layers to this work.

In the first part, "Cherry Blossom," Takaki befriends a shy girl named Akari when she's transferred to his elementary school. Upon graduation, Akari is forced to move again, and both she and Takaki keep in touch by writing letters. When he learns that his family will be moving far away, he decides to visit Akari one last time. In "Cosmonaut," we find an older Takaki nearing the end of high school and thinking about his future. Kanae Sumida has fallen in love with him since the first day she met him, but she could never bring herself to confess how she truly feels. And in "5 cm per Second," Takaki is now a computer programmer in Tokyo. Realizing that his life is not what he has always hoped it would be, on the verge of a breakdown Takaki quits his job. Akari is about to get married, when she finds that old love letter she never did give to Takaki.

According to Makoto Shinkai, the title 5 cm Per Second comes from the speed at which cherry blossoms petals fall, petals being a metaphorical representation of humans, reminiscent of the slowness of life and how people often start together but slowly drift into their separate ways.

I absolutely loved the way Shinkai explored the theme of love through various periods of a number of people's lifetimes. And the beauty of the movie is that you can't help but see yourself in basically every since part of the film. I guess that's why I was so moved by this work. It's all there. How powerful and exhilarating love can be, and by the same token how painful and bittersweet is can turn out to be. The immensity of a first love before the loss of innocence. How being too driven can blind you that what lies right in front of you. How shattered dreams and disillusionment can break you.

Tenmon's evocative soundtrack is just about perfect, and conveys layers of emotions. His end song theme almost made me choke up. There is no instrument out there that can capture moods and emotions quite like a piano, and Tenmon's track is simply brilliant.

You can find 5 cm per Second on various streaming sites or on YouTube. All in all, this is probably as good as it gets. And thank God they had the brains not to cap it all off with a cheesy, bubblegum Hollywood ending. Touching and moving, you have got to see this film.

I'm too lazy to backtrack and check who actually recommended 5 cm per Second to me, but I'll be eternally grateful! It's a movie anyone can enjoy, whether you're into anime or not. . .

Here's the trailer:

And here's that end song theme I've been listening to non-stop since yesterday:

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

24 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Some of my piano students have been looking for more good anime music!

Anonymous said...


This blog has been a treasure trove of fantasy and science fiction books to read for me for about three years now. You responsible for my buying way too many books!

I know some haters bitch about your so-called eccentricities, but your style is what always brings me back here. Love the jokes and the tunes you put on.

I've never been an anime fan, but because you enjoyed them so much a friend and I rent Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away this weekend. And both were great! So keep these recs coming!

I'm glad you're here to help me broaden my SFF horizons...:DDD


Shirow66 said...

Pat, you should definitely check out The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, it's a fantastic movie on par with Ghibli.

Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff said...

Pat, I'm glad you enjoyed my recommendation. I'd like to say the review is spot on as well, you really captured the main theme in the movie. To see you enjoyed yourself as thoroughly as I did makes my day.

Makoto Shinkai has made another movie, although less refined in music and animation, a few years before 5 CM. Still it's able to grab you by the guts and move you as 5 CM did. One thing, though, The Place Promised In Our Early Days is heartbreaking, so if you had your share for one week, try postpone it for a bit until 5 Cm has settled in.

Good day to you, sir,

comentin: The act of posting a comment.

SmokinDan said...

Wow, this was excellent.

But really sad :(

Anonymous said...

I also recommended it. Glad you liked it. :)

As Jeff says (why do I always seem to be following him?) The Place Promised in Our Early Years is also a great film. It has a more sci-fi plot to it though and can be confusing in places so I'd hesitate to recommend it with quite as much zeal as 5cm, but looks-wise and emotion-wise, it is just as eye-bleedingly gorgeous as 5cm is.

Like you Pat, I also had the, "but they are children's films" indecision about giving myself over to this genre but once you pass that you won't regret it. Really, to help you get over it go rent My Neighbour Totoro. You will look at it on the cover and think it the epitome of what it is you are worried about. Once you've seen it though you will fall in love with it and that nagging feeling of unsureness you have will be crumbling. And if you have young kids or nephews or neices or whatever... give the gift of Totoro... they will love you forever. :)


Anonymous said...

Pat, may I suggest to you:

SHINICHIRO WATANABE's work? It is great. Two 26 episode series (not movies) so you won't run out of stuff so quickly as well.

fist one is COWBOY BEBOP (the anime which, btw has the greatest soundtrack of all time)

and the second one (also über, although different) is SAMURAI CHAMPLOO.

If you can, then please watch them with the original sound and subtitles not retarded dubbing

(for what it's worth, most animes just cannot be properly dubbed into English. at all.)

Anonymous said...

I will definitely be checking this out - sounds beautiful. I`m sure people have recomended it, but you should check out Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no Haka). It is a stunning and heartbreaking film.


Anonymous said...

Just spent the last hour watching this movie on YouTube...

And now I can't stop crying. So beautiful...

Thank you so much for recommending 5 cm per second.


tomas said...

" This genre, not unlike SFF, is filled with retarded shit. And I'm scared that one of these days I'll stumble upon a smelly turd I'll find so off-putting that it might just kill my renewed interest in the genre. "

Amen brother

Cinthia said...

@Angie: Idem pour moi.=)

I love the fact that this blog introduced me to many different things, in addition to all the fantasy and scifi novels and series.

Pat is a man of many tastes and it's always nice to discover new things through him. I like the diversity I find here, whether it's for books, movies, music, travels, Cirque du Soleil, and now animated films.

Keep up the good work! And I will watch 5 cm per second on the computer when I get home from work!


Previous to The Place Promised.. came Voices of A Distant Star. Look that one up. I loved it. Made me cry.
I got hooked on good anime years back thanks to my then teenage son.
I've seen most of the works suggested but will be looking for 5 cm and I've found The Girl Who....
Lots to keep me entertained
I agree that subtitles are the way to go and I love the quality of the music used.

Jim Haley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Haley said...

As a fellow fan of Robotech from back in the day, and also someone who doesn't really watch any Anime anymore - I CAN wholeheartedly recommend Royal Space Force - Wings of Honneamise. It's like a combination of the US/USSR space race (like The Right Stuff) set against a war between analogs for those two nations, combining wonder, adventure, humor and drama into a very satisfying film.

Anonymous said...

I will second the recommendation of Grave of the Fireflies. It is right up there with the Ghibli movies as one of the best Anime feature I have ever seen.


kauldron26 said...

pat im a big fan of ur site, and a big lover of anime. Since ur still in a movie phase i wont recommend series yet. But a movie that will blow you away is "the girl who lept thru time" that makes spirited away look like charlie brown

Ilasir Maroa said...

Pat, 5cm per second is defintely an awesome movie. All the other recs, except maybe the series(which will naturally have a very different flavor and take a lot more time) are wonderful, as well. Kudos to you for recommending these here.

My rec:

Voices of a Distant Star, also from Shinkai, but less visully pleasing. Only because it is a 30 minuter done solo on his macintosh, but it has another great story.

Anonymous said...

Awesome. I never dared to watch it on Youtube since I thought there would be a DVD release anytime soon. But now I'm looking forward to seeing it and perhaps in the future in better quality.

Anonymous said...


Just wow...

It broke my heart, but what a film. And that song is so melancholy.

Thank you so much for posting this.


Patrick said...

That end theme has been playing on and on and on since yesterday...

So sad yet so beautiful.

I'll probably watch 5 cm per Second again in the near future.

Glad some of you are discovering and enjoying the film as well!:-)

Gilbert said...

Watched this the other night and it was pretty damn good!

Keep those recs coming!

Anthrophile said...

Just keep in mind that anime isn't a genre any more than "books" or "magazines" or "movies" are -- it's a creative mode through which to explore a multitude of genres. Then pick your subset, and you should be okay. :-)

(Lovely blog!)

Jebus said...

Checked this out last night on your recommendation and just could not get into it. I thought the scene animation was just stunning, but then the human animation was a slightly different style and it kept bringing me out of the story.

But then again I found the story quite boring as well - I think mainly due to the execution of just having it as 90% voice overs.

I probably liked the second story, Cosmonauts the best of the three but even then it wasn't anything I'd recommend for anyone to watch.

The main character throughout the three I just found dull and boring and far too emo for me to connect with.

The end song was quite good though.

Meh, can't win 'em all.