Wednesday, September 12, 2007

5cm/sec bliss

Thanks to Owen, I saw Byousoko 5cm, Makoto Shinkai’s latest 3-parter anime. Clocking just over an hour the story about unrequited love is genuinely cinematic in its feel. It’s a thing of beauty, of the sort that anime lovers can justifiably use to flay critics (um, usually parents) who see the genre as junk - mostly juvenile in content and puerile in taste. Then again works like Makoto Shinkai’s are really exceptions (not excluding screen favourites by Miyazaki). But I digress.

Anyways. This lovely film tells the story of a young boy Takaki and a girl named Akari – two close friends who though inseparable in childhood, drift inevitably apart as they grow older. Friendship turns into deep affection, but it’s nipped in the bud just as romance blossoms. School, family, and even nature come between the two.

The film is awash with symbolism – never mind that a scene or two appears a mite too heavy-handed – and enough realism to connect with any number of people who have ever been in love. So near, yet so far. Anticipation magnifies the commonplace with heart-aching clarity, and you just know Makoto Shinkai’s been there to tell the story the way he has in 5cm. In the meantime Takaki remains trapped in a world of his own with unrealised dreams as consolation – like a cosmonaut adrift in space. But Akari has moved on, blissfully unaware that Takaki still carries a torch for her.

5cm/sec is supposedly the time it takes for cherry blossom leaves to fall to the ground. It’s an apt metaphor in a film that tries to portray the effect of absence on love and life. The poignancy does not escape viewers; in fact a quiet urgency prevails, railing at how fate like gravity conspires with time and distance to rebel against the stoutest hearts.


Daniel said...

Just to clarify a little, Shinkai's work here contains two main themes (which you noted one of them), that of distance (which he also previously explored in his other work, Voices of a Distant Star, which you ought to see as well) and how people slowly but inevitably drift apart over time. 5 centimeters a second.

David BC Tan said...

good point.
the inference is there in the inevitability of gravity - we're pulled in one direction even if our hearts pull us towards another