Distance presents a problem to people’s relationships throughout the globe. In the 2007 animated film by Makoto Shinkai, he explores this difficulty and goes into full detail on how much effort, time, and patience a long-distance relationship needs in order to thrive. The film revolves around the physical and emotional gap between Tohno Takaki and Shinohara Akari, and the experiences they went through that changed both of their lives forever.
The movie consists of three parts: namely “The Chosen Cherry Blossoms,” “Cosmonaut,” and “Five Centimeters per Second.” Each part describes Tohno Takaki and Shinohara Akari’s relationship and their distance in different points in their lives. “The Chosen Cherry Blossoms” tells how Akari and Takaki met, became close friends, got separated, and tried to meet each other again. “Cosmonaut” describes a girl named Kanae Sumida who develops feelings for Takaki despite his longing for Akari. “Five Centimeters per Second” shows what happened to both Takaki and Akari a few years after the events of Cosmonaut. For each of the three parts, there appeared to be a frequent use of metaphorical language, and symbolism, which added depth and substance to a seemingly tragic romantic plot. A common thought that people have after watching the movie concerns whether the film ended on a good note or a bad one. Some may argue that Akari’s absence after the trains’ crossing implies that the she had moved on earlier than Takaki, yet some still believe that the two haven’t forgotten their feelings for each other, and they never will, even as they move along their lives.
Nevertheless, Makoto Shinkai concluded the film on an open-ended note, leaving the audience thinking about what happened next. For me, this kind of ending was a very satisfying cliffhanger, since it fits the unexplored aspects of the characters, and the mysterious setting.
Makoto Shinkai’s use of literary forms of speech created different meanings hidden within each and every action that Takaki takes and the monologues that the characters say. This helps the audience put themselves in the shoes of the characters and experience the joys and difficulties of Takaki, Akari, and Kanae as they go through their lives. Not to forget, one of the redeeming qualities of every movie of Makoto Shinkai entails the beautifully intricate and realistic art style of the setting. Included in the literary forms of speech mentioned earlier are the symbols changing through the times, such as the slowly falling cherry blossoms, and the soaring sparrow over the vast landscapes, which provided different interpretations of the characters’ ways of thinking. The combination of the movie’s art style and its literary potential bring its value to new heights. The film shows how the distance between two people can change their lives in ways that they cannot even imagine. “Five Centimeters per Second” is a masterpiece to be watched if one should feel the need to understand what it takes to overcome the pain that separation brings, and the sadness that comes with one’s first heartbreak.