Saturday 9 February 2013

5 Centimeters Per Second (2007)

Makato Shinkai. You might not have heard of this anime filmmaker yet but you should have. The triple threat talent produces, writes and directs beautiful movies which have encouraged comparisons between him and the king of anime himself, Hayao Miyazaki. Films such as 'Voice Of A Distant Star' and 'The Place Promised In Our Early Days' have won Shinkai many honours in his native Japan but I first noticed him for his acclaimed work on '5 Centimeters Per Second', which explores the relationships that a boy named Takaki Tono develops from his youth up to the present day. The film consists of three segments which each focus on a different time in Takaki's life, titled Cherry Blossom, Cosmonaut and 5 Centimeters Per Second.

What immediately strikes you when watching '5 Centimeters Per Second' is just how stunning the film is. The animation is of the highest standard and could certainly give Studio Ghibli a run for its money. If you pause the film at certain moments, the frame looks more like a piece of art than just an anime still. From the snow falling at the beginning to the gorgeous night sky of the middle section, '5 Centimeters Per Second' is lovingly animated and its worth watching more than once just to catch every little detail that has been painstakingly drawn in.  

The title of the film refers to how long it takes for cherry blossom petals to fall to the ground and this tranquil, dream-like imagery perfectly captures the essence of '5 Centimeters Per Second'. Not much seems to happens in each segment and indeed, the plot could be summarised in a few short sentences but it is the intimate tone and atmosphere of the story that draws the viewer in. I will admit that I was slightly bored at times by the quiet introspective nature of the film but since first watching '5 Centimeters Per Second', it has become lodged in my mind somehow and my thoughts keep returning to it. Perhaps it was the simple yet realistic portrayal of struggling relationships which hooked me in or maybe it's just that '5 Centimeters Per Second' isn't like any other film that I've seen in a long time.

It would be hard to talk about '5 Centimeters Per Second' without mentioning the score which was composed with Shinkai's longtime collaborator Tenmon, who has worked on all of his major feature films to date. This film is all about atmosphere and the music perfectly compliments this, combining with the animation to create a truly unique experience. Listen to the beautiful end theme below to get a taster.

'5 Centimeters Per Second' has gained a life of its own since its initial release, and has since been developed into both a manga and a novel, also written by the ridiculously talented Makato Shinkai. I haven't seen any of his other films yet so I don't know how deserving he is of the Miyazaki comparisons but I'm definitely keen to check out some more of his features. If you're only a fan of anime that is rooted in sci-fi then this simple portrayal of two people struggling to stay in love may not be your thing but if you're open minded enough to give '5 Centimeters Per Second' a chance then I would definitely recommend it.

So what do you think of '5 Centimeters Per Second'? Were you entranced by the visuals or were you bored to tears? And are you a fan of Shinkai's other work? And what was up with that ending??? Let me know what you think by commenting, liking and sharing below. Thanks!

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