Last weekend, I discovered some news that was painful to accept but you have to accept it anyway. I found out that a girl I fancy and wanted to ask out was now in a relationship, but all I can do is wish her happiness and I'm used to it anyway. And that got me thinking about this Anime film that I saw 3 years ago which without a doubt is the accurate truth about the journey of life, the unexpected changes and how coping with it all is tough. The film is called 5 Centimeters Per Second and it's one of the greatest films I've ever seen and here's why.
5 Centimeters Per Second is the story about Takaki Tōno "Voiced by: "Kenji Mizuhashi" (Japanese), and "Johnny Yong Bosch" (English)" who narrates his life story through 3 Acts which show his painful and joyful experiences in life thanks to the crushing change and distance that he is left with while trying to keep in touch with his best friend and love interest Akari Shinohara "Voiced by: "Yoshimi Kondō" (Part 1) and "Ayaka Onouei" (Part 3) (Japanese), and "Erika Weinstein" (Part 1), "Tara Platt" (Part 3) (English).
A big Japanese fact that I want to share with you lot is that in Animes and real life in Japan, people actually call others by their surname first as a form of respect and politeness and soon over time and permission are allowed to call them by their first names. Honorifics are used as expressions of respect or endearment, you see they are added to the end of the name and differ in relationships or status, it's crucial and is polite as that's the society they have been living in since the feudal era. So for example, adding san to the end is the most common honorific and is equivalent to Mr, Miss, Ms or Mrs. And kun is used at the end of boys names to express familiarity, it can also be used by men among friends or when addressing someone younger. Another is chan which is used to express endearment to girls and also among lovers, it gives a sense of childish cuteness. I don't know if your interested at all, but it's an interesting and complicated fact to learn properly but I find it curious. I remembered all this and looked it up from the front page of my Fairy Tail Manga. Anyway, I digress.
This film... it's almost impossible to describe. It shows the bitter struggle that life throws at us thanks to time's constant continuation and how moving around in life is just as tough to accept as much as moving on from the past.
The story is shown through 3 Acts which are all set in different times in Takaki's life and is narrated by Takaki, Akari and later Kanae Sumida "Voiced by: "Satomi Hanamura" (Japanese), and "Kira Buckland" (English). The words that the characters narrate are deeply honest, truthful and realistic, Takaki and Akari tell and describe every ounce of detail whether it's their deepest feelings, the environment they are in right now and more likely layed out like a letter because they actually do send out letters to each other during the film and read them out too. Kanae has a brief act and her words are not like a letter but more secret and quiet because she too can't confess her inner feelings. We'll see as our two childhood sweethearts watch years fly by and see if they can keep in contact and have that chance at meeting once again.
Anyway, then I took a look at the synopsis on the back and saw some stunning screenshots, I knew this film had to be purchased and come home with me. After my first viewing of the film back in 2009 and writing my first review of it on Alt:Mag, I felt pain and sorrow in my heart after catching the message and knowing this story is inevitable for me too. So since then, I've shown it to several other friends including Lewis and they've all felt the same but I always feel the kindred reassurance and comfort from showing people things that I think about deeply (so long as they are interested), I mean that's what I love about my friends, the fact that I have learnt and am still learning to be myself, talk honestly and listen to them as much as I want them to hear me and most of all, treasure all the times we have together and keep in touch no matter what life throws at us.
The name of the film itself has a fascinating fact behind it's name and is explained in the film too which I find smart and beautiful but also clear as time itself.
The animation is the gleaming beauty of this masterpiece. I can't believe how much effort has been put into ever spec of detail and the comparison is unimaginable to other Animes (well besides Clannad) even the front cover has a pretty and dramatic display that entranced me too.
What attracts me most of all to this film is the stunning and captivating scenery that's shown almost every second. Never before have I seen a film where so much detail, effort and beauty that's been focused on the background and scenery art before from the single snowflake to the water on the flowers and the glorious sky. Most of the scenes show landscapes I wish I was witnessing for myself so I can escape from the stress I'm in at the time and feel more relaxed and entranced by the staggering beauty, I only witness looking up at the sky or using my imagination when I'm alone.
Seeing these every day sunsets and looking at the blue sky fills my heart with happiness cause I always get a warm heart and produce a gentle smile when gazing at the sky when it shows articular cloud patters, airplane trails and most of all sunrise and sunsets. It's all a world that I can never get closer to (except when on a plane and I look out the window to see a cloud floor I wish I could go and explore and journey beyond the horizon where the blue sky meets the Earth itself), like I stated in my old post about Characters like Andrew and that if I had angel wings or the ability to fly through Telekenesis then I would soar above this gravity world and gaze at the sky to calm my senses, find comfort in the patterns and look down on the world and feel more special and see the inner beauty that I sometimes fail to see thanks to work and other things that make me feel restricted and stressed. The landscapes in the film were eye-raising and they encourage me to save up someday and me, Lewis and others will try and go to Japan someday to live the dream and see some of the cities, pay tribute to a temple and most of all explore the rural locations and look out to see the glorious environements (depending where we are of course). Like the phrase "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" which of course we aren't afraid to try out and be more multi-cultural as me and all my otaku mates would kill to follow too.
The soundtrack is something special, it has many piano melodies that set the scene and it's all like stuff I listen to anyway when walking home with the sunset on my side and the calm expression on my face (like when I listen to the Clannad Anime soundtrack, that's 2 more Anime deep posts to tell someday). I find albums/ artists and soundtracks that have ambient or piano tracks (like Port Blue) are really special because I feel they emit the deepest emotion and help me think and take my mind off things and also help my imagination play around with drama and daydream that I never stop thinking about every single day.
The ending left me speechless, I couldn't even accept it at first because it wasn't what I wanted or even expected. It was the brutal truth that even I will have to face someday when such an occasion happens. It's pleasant to see how it turns out but then again if it were me I wouldn't like it at all. Seeing how it all turned out thanks to some of life's unexpected and cruel intentions and seeing what each character's true feelings were emitting made me wish I was there to comfort them all. Don't let my personal feelings get in the way of any of you witnessing it for yourselves though.
I'm unsure if this post is a deep life post or even a review of the film? I just wanted to write this up this way. Most of these feelings I probably will go into more detail about during future posts, this post here is like a teaser of some of the thoughts in my head. I don't even know if you'll see it or not, but I encourage Anime fans or even others to take a look despite the condescending aura I have specified the film to be about. The truth hurts sometimes but isn't it better to face the truth than ignore some things that are right in front of us all the time. This film taught me to accept change (no matter how much I hate it and can't avoid it) and that everything happens for a reason, no matter how many times I wish I could go back in time and change the course of destiny whether it's overcoming obstacles, tapping into inner courage or even wishing I was a better and more confident person. The way I see it, I am who I am like what Eminem says "I am, whatever you say I am"! Now if that isn't something to live by then I don't know what is.
I am proud of myself for moving on from certain memories, getting over mistakes I've made and understanding that I can't always do what I set my mind to or wishing I did something back then. And I aim to continue this way and of course it's always a pleasure to reminisce about the past and remember good times with others. But thanks to the advantages of the Internet and Facebook for example, it helps that you can keep in contact with others and try to organise a catch-up and even chat every so often (this is more I can say for what the character had to live by seeing as the film began in the 1990s and where Japan didn't have many cellphones and email wasn't available to the general public yet).
So this film is a real slice of life anime and coming of age film. I may talk about this emotionally and deeply but don't take my word for it, some of you just may watch it for the art and not take the message so personally or to heart. I will always treasure this film (like I do with The Land Before Time) and I feel satisfaction when showing others this film to see if they will understand the message too plus we can enjoy the film itself with it's beautiful scenery's and story that it has. Well done, Makoto Shinkai!