From Makoto Shinkai (Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days) comes 5 Centimetes per Second, a movie that tells the story of two childhood friends in love, and how they try to keep their relationship going through hardships that life throws at them. Throogh three small stories, or episodes as they're called, we're told the tale of how they grow up and farther away from each other.
The movie tells of a love that's slowly torn apart because the lovers move further away, both in heart and home. It's underlying themes are beautifully incorporated into the story; about growing up, letting go of an unreachable past, and taking control of one's own life. Though they're not necessarily very obvious throughout the movie, the final scene symbolizes these themes, and what the main characters decided on in the end.
The character we follow through the movie is Takaki Tohno, and we get to see how he looks on the events that unfold as a child, a teenager and finally, and adult. We see how he develops through these stages of life, and how it all relates to his childhood friend and love, Akari Shinohara.
The emotions are protrayed in an incredibly beautiful and realistic way; how they portray the love between Akari and Takaki, how they portray the girl who has a crush on Tohno during his high school years, Kanae Sumida, and finally, how they portray their development from children to adults all makes them characters you'll place your heart with. They're characters you'll love, feel sad with, and you'll wish for them to live happily.
The animation quality is astounding, from the detail in backgrounds to the astounding ligthing effects and camera angles that help bring the mood of the scenes to a level different from mostly anything else. The only beef I have is that the characters' faces lost a bit of detail from time to time, but aside that the movie is a visual pleasure that goes beyond pretty much everything I've ever experienced.
Tenmon, who's made the soundtrack to other Shinaki films, does an astounding job on the soundtrack for the movie, with piano pieces that effectively and beautifully amplifies the mood of the movie, be it melancholy, calmness or nostalgia. However, if you don't like piano soundtracks, chances are you'll not like it, since it's mostly the piano that's used throughout the movie (I love them though, and that's what made me give it a 10).
The seiyuu also do a marvelous job of portraying the characters, their emotions and age. I've only watched the Japanese version of the movie, so I can't say anything about the quality of the English voice acting. But I'd recommend it in Japanese anyways =)
5 cm per Second is a movie that takes a story of growing up and makes it into something that cannot be described as anything less than a masterpiece, with astounding themes, storytelling, art and sound. If someone told me I could watch one movie before I died, I'd undoubtedly choose this one.
Feedback greatly appreciated =)