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DVD Review

DVD cover

5 Centimetres Per Second


Starring (voice): Kenji Mizuhashi, Yoshimi Kondō and Satomi Hanamura
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £17.99
Certificate: U
Available 14 March 2011

When Akari Shinohara transfers to Takaki’s school it starts a sequence of events where friendship holds the possibility of so much more…

5 Centimetres Per Second (2007 - 1 hr, 18 sec) is an adult animation film directed by Makoto Shinkai.

The story is told in three parts as it follows the relationship between Akari and Takaki, although in truth, without the episode titles, you would consider the film as one flowing narrative.

The film opens with ‘Cherry Blossom’, the title of the film refers to the speed at which cherry blossom falls to the ground. Set around 1990, we see the two young people meet and discover that they have much in common, leading them to spend a lot of time together. The two are sundered apart when Akari moves to Tochigi with her parents. Takaki broods on their relationship and undertakes a journey to see her once again, a journey where even the elements appear to be hindering his course. Even though he makes the journey he finds that he is unable to tell Akari how he feels.

‘Cosmonaut’ moves the story forward to when Takaki is in high school next to the space centre. Kanae Sumida finds herself drawn to him and their growing friendship is reflected in her growing romantic feelings towards him. Although she desires to tell him how she feels she realises that he spends time lost in thought and sending emails to another person. Convinced that his heart lies elsewhere she never tells him how she feels.

‘5 Centimetres Per Second’ sees Takaki working as a computer programmer, but his heart is not in it, there is a missing piece which he cannot fill. He leaves his job still pondering the past, when he walks past a familiar looking woman at a railway crossing, turning around, convinced that she will still be there, the train - when it has passed - reveals no one.

5 Centimetres is a beautifully realised film about the distance which can exist, even in the closest relationships. The tone is contemplative and, given the subject matter, a little melancholy. The script is almost a tone poem on the subject of loss. This is why I started by saying that this is an adult film, even though the subject is teenagers. Here lies some central truths to the human condition, which will be recognised by everybody.

Graphically this is one of the most sumptuous films I’ve seen in a long time, the main palette being rich reds, blues and pinks. I can see why Shinkai has been compared to Hayao Miyazaki. The film has a sensibility and attention to detail which is only found in a few, choice, films. Although their subject matter and concerns are very different. Shinkai has made a great film, which does not rely on any fantasy elements to tell both the tragedy and beauty of human relationships. Each frame of the film is a revelation, well worth freeze framing just to enjoy the composition and detail.

The disc has both the original Japanese and English dub versions, DD 2.0, both of which do the film justice. The best part of the disc is the superbly detailed 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, which could only be bettered with a Blu-ray version. Personally I spent much of the film marvelling at the sophistication of the picture, from the snow fall, to the emotional nuances which the characters are able to display.

For extras, you get a lengthy interview with the director and shorter interviews with the Japanese voice actors, before rounding off with a trailer.


Charles Packer

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