[drmchsr0] The Reverse Thieves Secret Santa Review – You Only Get One Chance, Brah [Orange Farm Archive]

Oh wait I forgot I was also participating in The Reverse Thieves Secret Santa Thing. D:

I guess I’m reviewing Makoto Shinkai’s critically acclaimed latest work, 5 Centimetres Per Second.

The tagline says it’s about a boy and a girl’s relationship and their distance. Yet I feel that it’s a cautionary tale about not blowing your chances. Am I seeing the right movie?

That was the reaction I got a few minutes after finishing the show. (and discussing the movie with a few friends, as I didn’t really get the movie) Was this really Shinkai exploring the themes of love and distance? I don’t know. All I got in the end was Shinkai gently telling me to seize the chance and not let it go.

Oh wait, introducing the movie, right.

5 Centimetres Per Second is the latest movie from one of the last few talented directors in anime, Makoto Shinki. It’s a 3-part OVA movie about Tono Takaki and Shinohara Akari, whose lives take a turn for the rather gritty when one of them has to move really far away… … … and what happens after that.

The first episode, The Falling Cherry Blossoms, deals with the immediate fallout of the move. Organizing a meetup becomes a painful journey as Takaki experiences delay after delay to just meet his friend. It’s a rather sweet and touching story of a young couple in the first throes of romance… … … until Takaki and Akari blow thier only chance of confessing their feelings.

The second episode, Cosmonaut, is told from the point of view of Sumita Kanae, Takaki’s classmate in the school he is in.  She’s got the cutest little crush on takaki, who seems to be so aloof he doesn’t notice her feelings. And even though she tries her best to confess, she then realizes that she might not be the one for him. While Takaki wonders what would have happened if he had actually confessed.

The third episode, 5 Centimetres Per Second, deals with the aftermath. Takaki is now a successful programmer with a company and Akari is, well, let’s just say married, to another guy. Takaki, now finally realizing he done goofed, keeps wondering about the what ifs, and pretty much throws away everything to… … … chase after a missed chance. Meanwhile Akari has moved on from that moment and is now a happily married wife.

I’m amazed at how Shinkai managed to tell us this cautionary tale of missed chances. The three shorts are so seemingly disconnected, but when you realize the thread connecting them all, the whole thing clicks into place, and you get the realization that this is a superior piece of work. It’s no wonder Shinkai is considered a genius of storytelling.

I have to admit, I didn’t really pay attention to the imagery in the 3 shorts. It was only after ruminating the movie after the discussion that everything clicked into place.

…I guess the art and animation was really nice and all, come to think of it. It’s a nice change of pace from your average anime episode, where a lot of detail gets omitted for time. The last time I saw this much effort put into a show, I was watching G Gundam and GaoGaiGar. And it’s not just the animation, either. The story is very, very well-told.

Are there any problems with the show as it is? Actually yes. While Shinkai is a master storyteller and all, the problem is that the stories he tells are pretty… … … boring, to put it simply. As grounded in reality as it is, the fact that we’ve actually seen it before does take the sheen off it a bit.

I’m still marveling at what he did, though. He’s basically telling us to seize the day and take whatever chance we get. It’s a staple of super robot anime and a really, really nice break from the eroge adaptations that cater to the otaku.

I do hope Shinkai’s watching G Gundam and GaoGaigar, though. The last episodes of those shows are basically showing us how to seize the moment.

Note to Narutaki and Hisui: I’m sorry about the serious tone this time. It’s as honest a review I can give it.

4 Responses to “[drmchsr0] The Reverse Thieves Secret Santa Review – You Only Get One Chance, Brah [Orange Farm Archive]”

  1. 1 Aelms
    December 25, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    …well, it’s always good to see my favorite anime getting more recognition.

    Your interpretation of the movie’s theme is rather interesting as I didn’t really feel that the main point is their failure of conveying their feelings to each other. The theme of distance was very well conveyed in my case. I’m pretty damn sure that they both are more than aware of each other’s feelings; it’s just that they were also so in awe of the distance between them that they were unable to fully build a romantic relationship. During the one night meeting in the story, not only did they manage to confirm each other’s love, they also realized that the pure physical distance distance was too much for them to handle. This IS a story set in a period of time where communicative technology was not common.

    In terms of the one-sided love between Kanae and Takaki, a relationship could have probably been developed if Kanae did not miss her chance to confess. However, the distance this time is not a physical one. At some point, Kanae realized that Takaki still has lingering feelings for Akari and that he will never fully love her. She understood that a relationship could not possibly happen when he still loves Akari (to the point of obsession really, he should have sent at least one of those mails…).

    While the the story may have focused on the missed opportunity, I feel that the ending proves to be against that. Takaki, who finally acknowledges his missed opportunity, sees another one pass his way when he and Akari cross each other once again. The movie would have proved to be something very different if the direction Takaki chose to move was towards his childhood love. He had the biggest chance to once against chase after the material of his affection once again in a world where all distance can be overcome. Despite all that, he had acknowledged that he and Akari had ended up in different places through the passing of time. Instead of looking back at what he has lost, he chose to look forward and reach for a better future.

  2. December 25, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    I agree completely, Aelms. For me, 5 Centimeters Per Second really is about distance. Even though these two characters understand each others’ feelings, the distance is so insurmountable that they have to simply sit back and accept their fate. Akari does this by finding another love and living a (presumably) happy life, while Takaki’s story is a cautionary tale about the emotional danger of holing up and focusing on the past. In an anime culture so rife with positive depictions of “nostalgic” atmospheres, a work that tells us to look forward is a really refreshing thing to see.

    I HAVE heard a lot of people say this movie is really boring (my college anime club members get pissed if I even mention it to them, they hate it so much), but I was enthralled the entire time. It’s certainly quiet, but the silent intensity of emotion really carries the story.

  3. December 25, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    I’m glad you enjoyed the movie! I’m a big fan of Shinkai, but I do have to agree with you that his movies are a bit boring…I watch each successive film expecting a GREAT piece of work, and come away a little disappointed, as if he hasn’t lived up to his potential. And yet, each of his films is wonderful. Your review was awesome, and I think hit it right no the head!

  4. December 27, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    …I have a bit of a confession to make.

    I’m a big fat super robot neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerd. So once in a while, I see things a little differently.

    Aelms: I, uh, was thinking about the effects of one missed opportunity. Though I’ll take your opinion about the ending into consideration. I thought the ending was rather vague, to be honest.

    VamptVo: Ahahahahahahahahahaha. It was interesting enough for me to have finished it in one sitting.


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