tek's rating:

5 Centimeters per Second (not rated)
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Caution: spoilers

Written and directed by Makoto Shinkai. This came out in 2007 in Japan, but I didn't see it until 2022. It's something I wanted to see for a long time, and I'm really glad to have finally seen it, but I didn't like it quite as much as I'd hoped I would. The background animation is beautiful, and I liked the characters well enough, and... well, I liked the story. It just... it was sort of slight. The movie is just over an hour long, and it's divided into three "episodes". It follows the central character, Takaki Tono, through three periods of his life. Takaki does a lot of narration, as do a couple of other characters. Wikipedia mentions specific years, though I never saw or heard any mentioned in the movie.

Episode 1: Cherry Blossom

This is primarily set in the mid 1990s, when Takaki is 13, and in junior high school, I guess. There are lots of flashbacks to a few years earlier, when he had become best friends with a girl named Akari Shinohara. (According to her, 5 centimeters per second is the speed at which cherry blossom petals fall.) After graduating elementary school, Akari had moved away, and we hear her narrate several letters she sends to Takaki. He writes back, but we don't get to hear his letters, though he does some narration about their relationship. Then he's going to move even farther away, but first he takes a train trip to visit Akari. Unfortunately, due to severe snow conditions, the train keeps getting delayed, and he ends up being several hours late. (I kept wishing they would have cell phones, but this was before such things were common.) She still waits for him, though, and when they finally meet, they get to spend some time together before sharing their first kiss. But Takaki realizes they will never be together.

Episode 2: Cosmonaut

A few years later, when Takaki is in senior high school, he's friends with a girl named Kanae Sumida, who does a lot of narrating, mostly about being in love with Takaki. But she can't find the courage to tell him how she feels. Meanwhile, Takaki writes texts to Akari on his cell phone (now he has one), but he never sends them. That's all I can think to say about this episode.

Episode 3: 5 Centimeters per Second

Takaki is an adult now, with a job. He's been in a relationship for a few years with a woman we never meet and who is barely mentioned, but that ends. Akari is engaged to some guy we never meet. Takaki still has feelings for Akari, but I get the impression they've been out of touch for years. His emotional state deteriorates, and... I guess I don't want to say any more about this episode. Except that it ends with a song over a montage of scenes.

So, what else can I say about the movie as a whole? I did enjoy all the drama and the feelings of the three main characters. I don't want to underplay that. I'm just not sure how much of a lasting impression the movie made on me. But it was definitely good. And I can understand people liking it a lot more than I did. I'm sure it says something profound about the nature of love and time and distance. But personally, I was only able to scratch the surface of such things while watching the movie. And it's kind of depressing.

The GKIDS Blu-ray release includes the short films Voices of a Distant Star and She and Her Cat as bonus features.

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