5 Centimetres Per Second, what can you really say about a movie like this which has become somewhat famous since its release and has been tipped as being one of the greatest anime movies in recent years. Strangely enough, unlike most, I wasn't introduced to Makoto Shinkai's work through this movie like most were, I was introduced through Children Who Chase Lost Voices, so for me this was certainly interesting to go back to his best work as the second movie I view.
5 Centimetres Per Second splits its story into three different parts, all focused in different aspects of Takaki Tono and Akari Shinohara's lives, once while they're still fairly young, once when they're in their teenage years, and finally we see them in their adult lives. Although, while the story is focused on these two characters, we're actually seeing it mostly play out through the eyes of Takaki. The two become very close friends in elementary school, but Akari ends up moving away and the two stay in contact through letters. One day Takaki learns that, because of his dads job, he too will end up moving but he will end up so far away that Akari and him won't have the chance to meet up, and thus the first part of this story shows us Takaki braving harsh winter weather to go and visit Akari ahead of his move, and it's here that we fully come to realise the feelings between the two. It isn't that much is said at all, but the emotion and feelings between the two are perfectly portrayed by the animation and soundtrack of the movie and it's easy to become lost in the whole thing.
The second part of the movie isn't quite shown through Takaki's eyes, as this time we visit him as a teenager and see the story through one of his female classmates at his new school who has strong feelings for Takaki. However as time goes on, she quickly realises that he doesn't look at her like that, and that whom Takaki longs for is not her, and isn't even near him, it's far beyond that island and that place. This, strangely enough, doesn't feel anywhere near as emotional as the first and last part of the film, because while we feel for Kanae (the girl we're seeing this aspect of the story through), there is little to no real connection between her and Takaki when compared to the connection between Takai and Akari, and that does play on your mind while you're watching all this unfold. That isn't to say it's a bad part of the movie, because it truly isn't, just that it isn't quite as emotionally strong as the start and finish.
The final part of the movie shows Takaki being all grown up and still longing for Akari who hasn't spoken to since that snowy trip to visit her in his childhood. Again, this part of the story doesn't give us much in the way of interactions between characters, if anything at all, because anything everything is portrayed perfectly by the animation and overall soundtrack of the movie. It shows us that Akari is getting ready to marry and has moved on, although still thinks about Takaki, and in a way shows that we don't always get those happy endings that we want. For Takaki it shows us the loneliness he is going through.
The movie overall is very powerful in the themes it puts across, and because of our lack of a happy ending it's staying true to real life and the fact that people may start out together, but they may not be able to stay together no matter how strong their feelings are. One may go through a great deal of loneliness and suffering because of that, which we see in Takaki, and which makes it all the more powerful because again, it all seems so real. Takaki feels like the time he spends trying to visit Akari by train in the first part of the movie feels like years, even when only a few moments have passed, something which everyone will be able to relate to from some stage in their life. Maybe what is most impressive here however, is how we don't need much character interaction, or many words, because every feeling is being perfectly portrayed by the animation, animation which is always at the top of its game and looks and feels very pretty and realistic. It's something that I haven't felt with anime for a very long time because so much falls back on its story, which is never a bad thing, but then something like 5 Centimetres Per Second comes along and is all the more refreshing because of how it's done.
I can't really finish off this review without mentioning that utterly amazing soundtrack this movie has. Each track is packed with so much emotion that you realise that this movie wouldn't be even half as powerful as it is without its soundtrack. They may be simple piano pieces, but they're really very powerful in what they do and add so much to this already emotional story. Music is one of the first things that stands out to me when watching anime, so of course it has quickly become something which means a lot to me, so it's especially nice to come across a soundtrack like this, a soundtrack which packs so much emotion even when you listen to it away from the movie. It's very pretty and well worth listening out for if you watch this movie
In closing: The middle of this story does let it down emotionally just slightly, but overall 5 Centimetres Per Second is an outstanding movie which is a must watch for fans of anime, and hey, when the run time is only 60 minutes you really have no excuse not to give it a chance.