March 28, 2008

Five Centimeters Per Second

This was directed by Shinkai Makoto, director of the acclaimed movie "The Place Promised in our Early Days".  The theme is time, distance, and growing apart.  It is haunting and profoundly sad - not weepy (though the last scene kind of knocks the stuffing out of you), just very melancholy and lonely.

Chapter one "Cherry Blossom" shows Tono Takaki as a middle schooler in love with classmate Sunohara Akari who winds up moving away with her parents, though they keep in touch with letters.  Then shortly before his parents move and take him even farther away from her, he manages to catch a train and spends the night with her huddled beneath a blanked under the snow.

Chapter two "Cosmonaut" shows him in high school, and a cute surfer-girl classmate of his named Sumita Kanae.  She is attracted to some unknown quality in him, and tries time and again to work up the courage to tell him she loves him.  Finally she realizes that this unknown quality in him is that he is always looking far into the distance, and with this comes the realization that he doesn't return her affection.  This chapter ends with her crying herself to sleep, and in a voiceover she mentions that she did this for a very long time.

Chapter three "5cm Per Second" shows him in Tokyo after college, working in a bleak job and living in a bleak apartment.  One day he passes adult Akari on the train tracks, and spins around to say something only to be blocked by a passing train.  A series of split-second images provides glimpses of the intervening years, showing how they gradually stopped writing each other, and showing Akari walking closely with another man, and preparing to get married, finding some of Takaki's old letters while packing to move, then finally as a happily married woman.  Interspersed with this are images showing just how dead inside Takaki has become, as well as flashes showing Kanae's life after Takaki graduated high school and left home.  The chapter ends as the train finally passes, and Takaki opens his mouth to call out to Akari, then realizes that he was the only one that stopped to talk.

Middle-school Akari reading one of Takaki's letters next to the cherry tree where she and Takaki would later share their first kiss:

Takaki on the snowbound train on his way to see Akari:

Akari waiting for Takaki at the station:

First kiss:

Kanae and Tono talking on their hillside:

Confession, interrupted by space launch:

Confession, interrupted by panic attack:

Confession that never will be:

Tono and Akari, almost meeting again.

Kanae revisiting her and Takaki's hilltop:

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