5 Centimeters Per Second (NY International Children's Film Festival)

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Richly evocative, heart-warming and beautifully crafted, Makoto Shinkai’s animated feature is a three part episode infused with emotion, naturalistic elements bonded with measurement, heartbreak, love and longing.

The first part, “Cherry Blossom Story”, speaks to us first about the rate at which cherry blossoms fall to earth- 5 centimeters per second. Secondly, we learn about young love, and time with Takaki and his beau, Akari who eventually become separated. The story builds to a seemingly endless amount of delays for Takaki who wants to see Akari, but is held back by heavy snowfall and changing train schedules. Keeping in contact with each other via letters and phone calls, their bond for each other is powerful despite the adversity.

The second episode continues with the innocent theme of young love in, “Cosmonauts”, where Takaki Tono is the object of Kanae Sumida’s secret affection. Loving him from afar, across windy fields of high grass, pastel skies, crashing ocean waves and star filled nights, Kanae watches Takako typing text messages he never sends and longs to be his.

In the midst of this is the aspiration to reach the cosmos as both share viewing a rocket soar into the sky. Keeping her love hidden from him, she keeps her wishes from becoming reality as Takaki looks beyond her.

The final chapter is, “Five Centimeters Per second”, as we open with Takaki typing at his computer and a few cherry blossoms enter thru his window, pulling him back into a memory from his past once he views a familiar face walk opposite him across railroad tracks. At another location, Akari reminisces as well about her youth with Takaki.

Contacting him by his cell phone, Akari reconnects with her soulmate yet Takaki, lonesome, troubled and surrounded by his mundane existence, longs to be thirteen again with his love. Catapulting us into a montage with a more upbeat pop song, we view both of their memories together as the final episode ties up loose ends.
Five Centimeters Per Second”, with its little over an hour running time is incredibly moving, colorful, and musically tear-jerking. The final episode doesn’t seem to be as fleshed out as the previous two, it feels more rushed than anything else, and the more upbeat song detracts from the previously melodious piano music which really moves. In its entirety, the animation is impressive, picturesque and innocent. Thought- provoking at its best, it’s a delight to behold.
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Weak: 1 Star   Average: 2 Stars   Good: 3 Stars   Very Good: 4 Stars   Excellent: 5 Stars

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Tobe R. Roberts

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