The Infinite Zenith

Victory costs. Every time, you pay a little more.

Introduction

Five Centimeters per Second is a tale about two people, Tohno Takaki and Shinohara Akari, who were close friends but gradually grow farther and farther apart as time moves on. They become separated because of their families yet continue to exchange contact in the form of letters. Yet as time continues to trudge on, their contact with one another begins to cease. Years pass and the rift between them grows ever larger. However, Takaki remembers the times they have shared together, but as life continues to unfold for him, he wonders if he would be given the chance to meet Akari again as the tale embarks on Takaki's realization of the world and people around him.

Opening Remarks

This is one of the most extensive, inclusive talks on the internet that analyse and discuss Five Centimeters per Second in any detail. However, while the messages and themes are timeless, this website is no longer actively maintained. Consequently, comments left here will not be responded to in the future. If you, the reader, have any feedback or remarks you'd like to make about the anime, I welcome you to do so at The Infinite Mirai. There, I've also got updated, revamped versions of this discussion that feature more images and a more meaningful analysis. They can be accessed:

Backstory

Five Centimeters per second remained a curiosity in my mind until one cold November Tuesday. I had returned home following a medical inquiry lecture and had just completed a chemistry lab report. While browsing through TVTropes, I came across the image of the sunrise Tohno and Akari was sharing in the former's dream, and I had decided to download and watch it to see what this was about. When I finished watching the movie, I was particularly impressed with the presentation and execution. The movie would, as I mention repeatedly, raise the bar for all the anime I've watched thus far. This movie has the bonus of being the test-bed for how I currently convert .mkv into a format suitable for the iPod 4, and was repeatedly run through Handbrake, had the subtitle file extracted and hard-coded into the .mp4 container. The success of this meant that the Gundam 00 movie was suddenly that much easier to convert when it came out, and as such, I have an efficient means of converting .mkv files for the iPod.

Personal Opinion 

It has been a long time since I've seen anything worthwhile in terms of anime; everything eventually feels recycled and boring. However, in the same way Ah! My Goddess brought me into anime, Five Centimeters per Second showed me that there is always something worthwhile to watch. Incidentally, having watched it, all of the older anime I have now feel a little shoddy in terms of art and story. The only series I have that hasn't felt downgraded is Gundam Unicorn, but I suppose it's a consequence of having a library I watched back in high school.

Five Centimeters per Second has a plot that differs radically from Voices of a Distant Star and The Place Promised in Our Early Days. While the idea of love is carried over, it is set in the real world and dispenses with the sci-fi elements that were present in Makoto Shinkai's earlier works. The plot itself is cleanly split into three acts. The first focuses on Tohno and his relationship with Akari, the second switches to Kanae, and the final act returns the spotlight to Thhno. The end result is a very clean plot that doesn't follow any pre-defined formula for love. Each story is wrapped up with an open ending, and while some may find this to be a detractor (for one, people enjoy seeing a definitive ending), I personally find that the execution of an open ending is most similar to real life in that we are not always completely certain of what tomorrow will bring.

The first act is the most moving I've ever seen in an anime; despite being a little tough to follow at first between all the flashbacks, it nonetheless conveys Tohno's thoughts and feelings extremely well. This is essentially the high point of the movie with respect to relationships; all the events in the following acts feel a little melancholic. Things pick up by the end of the movie, when Tohno realises that he can move on and live life out (fans usually don't pick this up!). On the whole, the plot is structured well enough to be understood and enjoyed, although the inclusion of the montage at the end may be a little confusing. This detracts from the impact of the ending, making things less enjoyable than it could be, and necessitates that one pick up the novel to gain a little more background.

  • When I first saw this image, I was blown away, but I never quite understood its significance until recently. Is that the orbital elevator from Gundam 00, or is that Halo? Either way, it looks freakin' awesome. This particular scene looks so awesome that TvTropes article on awesome scenery has used (and more impressively) retained this particular moment  as its main image.

I'll end up saying this many, many times throughout my comments, but the art in this anime surpasses anything I've ever seen out there. It vies with Crysis for the title of "Best Graphics of all Time" in my books, and truly makes the experience come to life. Whether it is watching the lens flare of a light in the camera or the ripples across a still body of water, attention is paid to each individual detail. The colours are fabulous; in its most mundane form, it looks photo-realistic, while at other times, it gives real-world graphics a run for its money. To genuinely enjoy this movie, I recommend that one watches it in at least 720p. At day's end, this movie is highly recommended for all audiences. The plot is solid, there's a great soundtrack and the art is spectacular.

Five Centimeters per Second's main plot element was the depiction of Tohno's life as he matured: many viewers will strongly relate to Tohno's increasing control over his life as he matures, and also come to reflect on their own goals and objectives in life. The final point of the story is a simple and profound one: that opportunities should always be seized when the time is right, and that regardless of success or failure, one should always be willing to let go and move on. Five Centimeters per Second has a rather more mature feel to it relative to the other anime I've watched; for me, this is what stands out about the movie. Unlike most stories, there is no defined happy ending, which leaves the viewers to pick up the pieces long after they've turned off their Blu-ray player. I say Blu-ray because this is how the movie should be watched to fully enjoy it: it is Shinkai's most beautifully animated work yet. Attention and care is given to every minute detail, ranging from the lens flare of a sunset to the LCD crystals on a cell phone. It is subtleties like these that make the movie worth watching, although the movie could stand on its own virtues independent of the art. The story is a simple, yet heart-moving one, speaking of love, separation and time. Tohno Takaki is our protagonist and narrates the events of the first and third chapters. He is brutally honest and explains things exactly as they are, giving the viewers a sense of connection to his character and experiences. Through his eyes, we see him mature and come to the eventual understanding that life is about making the most of opportunity and while we do indeed cherish memories, there also exist the possibility of making new ones. 

Navigation

Cherry Blossoms

Takaki Tōno quickly befriends Akari Shinohara when she transfers to his elementary school. They grow closer to each other due to similar interests and attitudes; for instance, they both prefer to stay inside during recess due to their seasonal allergies. As a result, they form a strong bond; they speak to each other using their given names without any form of honorifics, which is very unusual in Japan, even among people who are romantically involved. This fact is lost in the movie's translation to English and other languages, which reduces the implied closeness of their relationship.

Upon graduating from elementary school, Akari moves to Tochigi, due to her parents' jobs. The two keep in contact by writing letters, but despite the feelings that exist between them, they inevitably begin to drift apart. When Takaki becomes aware that his family will be moving to Kagoshima, he decides to go see Akari since they will be too far apart to visit each other at all after he moves. He also prepares a letter for Akari, revealing his true feelings. However, during the journey, he loses the letter, and a severe snowstorm continuously delays Takaki's trip by several more hours. The two finally meet, and as they share their first kiss, Takaki realizes they will never be together again. Stranded in a shed due to the snowstorm, they fall asleep after talking late into the night. Takaki departs the next morning, and they promise to continue writing to each other. As the train rolls away, Takaki regrets the loss of his letter, while Akari silently looks at a letter she had intended to give to him.

  • I first heard about this movie (Makoto Shinkai's third) through TVTropes. What started as a simple curiosity led me to find and watch the movie. The end result of watching this movie left me with the same feeling as I had finished Ah! My Goddess. Both movies eventually set the benchmark for the quality of anime (and media in general) that I've come to consider as worthwhile. 

  • Cherry blossoms are a major part of the Japanese culture and symbolize life. In the context of the movie, the rate at which they fall reflects the metaphor of falling in love.

  • This is the opening scene from the movie when Tohno and Akari were only 11 years old running along that path. Akari describes the falling cherry blossoms as if it was snow but, Tohno didn’t see it that way at all. To him, snow was snow and cherry blossoms were cherry blossoms at the time.

  • For Tohno, listening to the Akari's voice telling him these things made it sound like it was the truth of the universe.

  • Tohno and Akari corresponded via letters; the story occurs before the prevalence of communication platforms like Facebook and Windows Live Messenger. However, even with our shiney new communication implements, long distance relationships can still dissolve. I've witnessed it before, which bears testament to how human relationships are strongly influenced by distance, regardless of how convienient communication tools are.

  • This is another anime about the life of an individual as he goes through life. Unlike Azumanga Daioh, which is predominantly a comdey, Five Centimeters per Second is a romance-drama that dispenses with all the "happily ever after" formula and chooses to play things more realistically.

  • I'll probably end up saying this multiple times, but the art in Five Centimeters per Second is absolutely gorgeous. Makoto Shinkai is accomplished as an artist, but having an entire section of the staff dedicated to art makes all the difference (consider that his first two shorts were done entirely by him).

  • Great attention is paid to every little detail in the movie, whether it be the grains in the paper Akari used for her letters or the sweeping panoramas that are present in every scene of the movie. This is the first letter Tohno recieves, and he can't help but read the letter over and over again. Even during class, he would secretly hide it with his textbooks so that he could gaze at it.

  • Remember Crysis and its graphics? I am pleased to say that Five Centimeters per Second is the Crysis of anime; the only series I've seen that can really compete with the graphics is UC Gundam. The latter was made in 2009, and nothing else even comes close.

  • Alright, I'm going to dispense with gushing about the art in this series until later. I have a little Easter egg I'd like to share, so now, the focus goes towards the story. By this point, Tohno and Akari wrote a letter to each other once every month through the summer, autumn until winter in the first year of junior high. During that time Tohno became more aware of his surroundings instead of trying to use activities to bury himself. From the letters they felt very strongly that they were the only ones in the world that understood each other.

  • Tohno receives a question from one of his senior classmates, asking him whether or not that is a love letter or not. He responds that it is not. I remember receiving a letter from a friend who lived quite far from where I am; it certainly is not a love letter, although I do read it from time to time to pick up my morale.

  • One of the major contrasts between Japan (by extension, Hong Kong) and Canada is the placement of services and shops. I'm a little envious of people on that side of the world, because they can go places and buy stuff without the need to take a bus or drive. That said, I probably will mind less once I get my driver's license.

  • Yet another evening falls over Tokyo. One unusual aspect of the movie's first chapter was the flow of time, which flits back and fourth between the past and present. It takes a little getting used to, as the flow of time even throws off when one day ends and another begins.

  • You could practically feel the brisk Tokyo morning in this image. For me, winter days like these are very common where I am, and with sunny mornings, I really don't mind the cold that much.

  • I wish we had markers like these at crosswalks. Yes, they're LED and probably difficult to install over a sprawling city, and yes, they're probably less effective for us, but they still look cool!

  • While writing his letter to Akari, Tohno had the same dream many times. In the dream he became a bird, flying through the sky above the densely packed buildings to where Akari was, sitting by a cherry blossom tree reading a book. It was a while before she looked up as if she noticed Takaki’s presence.

  • In Tohno's imagination, when Akari was writing her letters, she would always be alone.

  • There was still two weeks before the promised day. Tohno spends that time writing his eight page love letter to tell Akari things such as the kind of future he wanted, his hobbies, favourite books, music etc. Everything he wanted Akari to know. But most of all, he wanted her to know how important she was to him. As long as she read this letter, Tohno would be able to survive the days on Kagoshima more easily.

  • On the promised day when Takaki was going to meet Akari, it was raining early in the morning. The sky looked as if it was shut out by a lid, concealed by a single shade of grey as fine raindrops poured towards the ground. It felt like a mid-winter day when the closely approaching Spring had changed its mind and turned back.

  • Tohno couldn’t concentrate on any of his classes that day. He stared out the window imagining the conversation he would be having with Akari who would be wearing her uniform, and that kind, gentle voice she had. As he gazed at the rain, he remembered how she had told him rain fell at five centimetres per second.

  • Tohno makes certain that none of his classmates were around before leaving for the station after school. By this point, the temperatures have dropped and it's begun to snow.

  • Every stop that one has make to travel from Goutokuji (豪徳寺) to Iwafune (岩舟) is documented well, raising yet another instance of the amount of attention and detail that were paid to this movie. In fact, it's possible to trace the route exactly if one is meticulous enough.

  • Tohno was four hours late when he finally arrived at Iwafune. I'll have to cut City Transit some slack, since I've never had the misfortune of being so late as to miss all my lectures (yet).

  • The black G-Shock watch he wore was given to Tohno as a gift to celebrate his successful entry into junior high. I have an Ironman Triathalon watch that dates back to when I was done elementary, although being my workhorse watch for the past 10 years has taken its toll on said watch.

  • As Tohno travels further, he remembers the time on the train when he was moving from Nagano to Tokyo with his father, just when he was entering the third year of primary school. It’s been five years since then and he is now thirteen years old. He only managed to endure the hard times thanks to Akari and he prays it was the same for her too, that he was the one who helped support her.

  • Tohno and Akari have known each other since grade four, hence the strength of their friendship. The cat Akari is petting is named Mimi, a callback to the name another cat in Shinkai's earlier work, She and Her Cat.

  • Tohno and Akari discuss the Cambrian age with each other at a McDonald's restaurant. When I was in my fourth and fifth grade, I found myself infatuated with sciences, although I had no one to share the knowledge with.

  • The anxious look on Akari when she first arrived reminds Tohno of himself when he moved schools a year ago. This is the reason why he went to talk to her and found themselves getting along well.

  • Tohno and Akari were slightly more mature than other children, and thus, did not get along with other children during primary school. Thus, by graduating they were looking forward to starting new junior high school life with other students, where their world will grow bigger. They also believed they will also be more certain about their emotions and one day be able to say out the words, “I love you”. They will be able to close their distance and work hard towards freedom.

  • It really says something about your personality when you can go into a classroom where someone has ridiculed you, erase said ridicule and boldly take the hand of said girl being and run with her out of the room, hand-in-hand. One of the (many) noteworthy aspects about Five Centimeters per Second was its portrayal of love, and how it can blossom at any age, even if we don't really realise it. These two believed that they could overcome anything in the world and even life ahead of them as long as they had each other. With that belief in mind, they studied together to get into the same junior high school after their three years together.

  • We are back to the present now, as Tohno transfers trains at another station. I wouldn't be surprised if I could actually find this spot in Tokyo if I tried. The snow intensifies, making each train later with each turn of the clock.

  • It is Tohno's first time traveling via train to this part of the prefecture, so he consults a map to find his way.

  • They had these electronic schedules in Tokyo since the 90s to tell travelers when the next train would arrive. As luck would have it, we're only getting these in our city now, and they only give approximations for the trains. Our buses still rely on preset schedules that one can call, although they only give approximations of time, as well.

  • On the third semester, Tohno was soon going to be moving to Kagoshima on Kyuushuu which means he will be further away from Akari. At the moment, she is only a three hour train journey away but after he moves, it’ll take a two hour plane journey. It was as if he was moving to the edge of the world. This was the reason why Tohno wanted to see her once again before the move.

  • Tohno hoped Akari had forgotten about him after that call on the phone. He felt he hurt her when he shouted, “That’s enough.” after hearing she was going to a different high school. He hadn’t want to hear any more and didn’t know what to say at the time.

  • At least they're telling us that the trains are delayed, and not making the transit customers wait in -40 conditions for half an hour waiting for that bus to come.

  • After a delay, the next train arrives. Lighting looks very realistic in this movie, showing even the lens flare and making it feel as if I were standing there on the station with Tohno.

  • We see an inordinate number of train stations and transfers during the course of Tohno's journey to Iwafune. In all honesty, this episode feels a lot like the Polar Express because of the colours and environment.

  • Over the next few days after the phone call until graduation, Tohno felt ashamed he couldn’t say anything to Akari to comfort her. Later, when Akari met Tohno to say goodbye at graduation, Tohno couldn’t find any words to say to her. They didn’t want to separate but at only twelve years old, they had no choice.

  • This quantity of snow in Japan is not unusual: Northern Japan has warm summers but long, cold winters with heavy snow. Central Japan has hot, humid summers and short winters, and southwestern Japan has long, hot, humid summers and mild winters.

  • Tohno couldn’t do anything despite knowing he was going to be very late, since at the time, mobile phones were not that common amongst students and Tohno didn’t have Akari’s new home number.

  • Tohno's reaction after dropping his letter is one of the most emotional moments of the film. Although even if he didn’t drop it, he didn’t know if he would have managed to hand it to Akari or not. Either way, nothing would have changed. He felt there were many things that happened in their lives that almost made it unbearable and the lost letter was just one of them. In the end, no matter how strong their feelings were, slowly they would change with the course of time whether he managed to hand over his letter or not.

  • Akari writing a letter back to Tohno early in the morning. The movie remains firmly grounded in reality: any flights of fancy are either very obvious or a little hazy.

  • The train Tohno is on ends up being delayed by four hours due to the snow storm, and actually comes to a full stop at one point for two hours. The pain of being unable to see Akari mounts with every passing second, to the point where he wishes that Akari would have gone home rather than waiting for him.

  • The train finally does arrive in Iwafune at 23:00, four hours after Tohno's planned time of arrival. He enters the station, expecting it to be deserted.

  • This is the high point of the movie with respect to "degree of heartwarming": Akari has been waiting for Tohno at the train station the entire time, and fell asleep prior to his arrival.

  • Sometimes, being able to see someone is in itself a blessing.

  • Tohno expresses that the home cooked food and Houji tea was the best he tasted in his entire life, and tries to hide his tears of happiness. Akari tells Tohno that she made the Obento (Japanese lunchbox) right after she got home from school with a little help from her mother. Her mother looked quite happy when she asked Akari, “Who are you making this for?” Akari just smiled thinking her mother understood what she was thinking.

  • As Tohno and Akari talk, they could feel how much they missed each other even though they didn’t put their feelings into words. Not once did they think about going back home. The staff member at the station has to close the place for the night. He says that he didn’t want to disturb them since they looked as if they were having a great time together. Tohno and Akari thank him before leaving. It is around midnight when they leave the station.

  • Iwafune is completely buried in snow as they cheerfully walk along the path where the blue street lamps made spotlights in the snow. Tohno is glad that he had grown a few centimetres taller than Akari and watches as she happily runs ahead of him.

  • The snow gently blankets the countryside. Snow is such an unusual symbol, for it can represent love, death and everything in between.

  • Tohno and Akari gaze at the Sakura tree that the latter mentioned in her letters to him. This scene is rather bittersweet; Tohno realizes they will never be together again, reflecting on how relationships in the real world come and go.

  • To Akari, sakura blossoms and snow are analogous, but Tohno sees them as two separate entities.

  • I'll let the picture do all the talking.

  • Tohno feels that they were talking about the things they learned with each other when they were younger because they somehow had the feeling they would be separated one day. This is Tohno's first kiss, and despite being a source of happiness, this is dampened by the feeling that they will in fact be separated.

  • That night they spent their time in a small wooden shed, huddled up together in an old single blanket they found on a shelf. They talked about various things until they fell asleep. It was a surreal night with the moonlight shining through the window, filling the shed.

  • Makoto Shinkai beautifully captures a winter sunrise in his art. One can feel both the cold and warmth in this image simultaneously.

  • Next morning they woke up at six. The snow had stopped. Drinking what was left of their slightly warm tea, they made their way to the station. From this point onwards, they will have to go back to being alone in their separate lives. It was a sudden parting after they felt the distance closing between them after all that talk. Tohno didn’t want to tell her about the lost love letter so Akari is the first to speak saying, “You will be all right, Takaki-kun”. Tohno didn’t know what she meant but felt those words would be a great source of encouragement for him in the far distant future.

  • Tohno promises Akari that he'll write to her as often as possible once he leaves. This is the last time where the two loves will see each other again.

  • Akari assures Tohno that no matter what the future is, that he will be alright. I've heard that being said to me countless times, so that I cannot distinguish whether it is even reality or not.

For those interested, the letter reads as follows:

To Takaki-kun.

How are you?

When we made that date, we never foresaw how snowy it would be today, did we? It looks like the train is late. That’s why I’ve decided to write this while I’m waiting for you.

There is a stove in front of me so it’s warm here. As always, I keep some writing paper in my bag so that I can write my letters at any time. I’m thinking of handing this to you later. So don’t arrive too early or I will be very much troubled. Please don’t hurry, take your time coming here.

It’s been a long time since we last met. It’s been eleven months. That’s why I’m actually feeling a little nervous just now. What will we do if we don’t recognise each other when we meet? But this place is so small compared to Tokyo so I don’t think that could possibly happen. But no matter how much I try to imagine what you look like in school uniform or soccer clothes, you seem like a stranger to me.

Hmmm, what else should I write? Oh, I know. I will start by giving my thanks. I will write down the feelings I had for you that I couldn’t convey properly. When I transferred to Tokyo in primary four I was really glad you were there. I was happy we became friends. If you weren’t there, school would have been much harder for me.

That’s why I really didn’t want to transfer to another school and part with you. I wanted to attend the same junior high school with you and grow up together. It was always what I had wished for. I’ve gotten used to my school now (so please don’t worry too much about me) but everyday, I would think to myself many times, “How much better would it be if Takaki-kun was here?”

I’m very sad that you will soon be moving to a much distant place. Even though we’re separated in between Tokyo and Tochigi, I have always thought to myself that, “Takaki-kun is within my reach.” I could always have taken the train right away to go see you. But this time, going to the other side of Kyushu is a bit too far for me.

From now on, I will have to learn how to live on well by myself, even though I’m not confident that I can. But I have to. Both you and I have to.

There’s another thing that I must tell you. I’m writing this down in this letter just in case I can’t say it out to you.

I love you. I can’t remember when I fell in love with you but very naturally, I had fallen in love with you before I knew it. The first time I met you, you were a strong and kind boy. You always protected me.

Takaki-kun, I’m sure you will be all right. No matter what happens, I know you will grow up to be a fine kind adult. No matter how far you go, I will always love you.

Please, please remember that.

  • After their first kiss, Akari never gave Tohno her letter because she felt that the whole world seemed to have suddenly changed.

  • Tohno heads back home, ending this act.

Cosmonaut

Takaki is now in the third year of senior high in Tanegashima, where the Tanegashima Space Center is located. Kanae Sumida, a classmate of Takaki, had fallen in love with Takaki ever since she met him in middle school, but does not have the courage to openly confess her feelings. She spends all the time she can with him, even waiting long after school for the chance to go home together. It is obvious Kanae has strong feelings for Takaki, but he appears to be blind to them; he simply regards Kanae as a good friend. Over time Kanae observes that Takaki is always writing emails to someone, or staring off into the distance as if searching for something far, far away. It is revealed later in this segment, that the emails Takaki is constantly writing are merely to himself, and he has had recurring dreams in which Akari is featured. Despite her feelings for Takaki, Kanae believes he is searching for things far greater than anything she can offer and eventually decides against telling him how she feels.

  • Tanegashima is a small island south of Kyushu; this is where Tohno moves after the events of the first act. It is depicted as an incredibly beautiful island with rolling hills and a vast blue sky.

  • Kanae Sumida is the central character in act two. She has been in love with Tohno since he began attending her junior high school, but cannot express her feelings to him. Kanae loves to surf and rides a moped to school. Her older sister is a teacher at her high school.

  • This is the high school Tohno and Kanae attend. Again, I'd like to point out how beautifully everything is done. All of these images are in 720p, compressed to be viewable on the website.

  • Kanae rides to school on her moped because the island didn’t have cars and there weren’t many buses, so all students had to get their moped licenses at the age of sixteen.

  • Kanae thinks that Tohno is wonderful, what with the serious look he had when practising archery. When he greets her that morning, she could barely hold back her little squeal of delight. To her, he was so kind and had a calm deep voice. They had known for five years and Kanae now only has half a year left to confess before their graduation.

  • Kanae is essentially the opposite of Akari in terms of interests; whereas the former is more athletic and assertive, the latter is more intelligent and graceful. The two never meet during the course of the story.

  • Kanae feels that Tohno is really the centre of all her troubles and she doesn’t want to stay this way forever. She decides she’ll confess her love when she successfully manages to stand on her board again.

  • Another one of Kanae's problems were her plans for the future. She was unsure about what to do. If Tohno was staying on the island then she would have been able to come to a decision immediately: she could simply find a job and work on the island. I remember filling these guys out at the end of high school. I had decided that I would pursue the career path of a bioinformatian. It's my second year now, and despite the coursework overwhelming me at times, I believe that bioinformatics is what suits me. It's a shame that Kanae isn't nearly as decisive, but then again, if she were, then the story wouldn't be able to rely on that to drive it forward.

  • She's blushing because she wants Tohno for herself. Once interactions between Kanae and Tohno are explored further, it becomes apparent that the two are as close as any couple.

  • Kanae is out surfing following classes. Kanae laments that despite practising for half a year , she hasn’t even managed to balance herself on the board once yet.

  • Kanae envies how carefree her older sister is when the two discuss the former's inability to surf. Kanae actually envies her sister quite a bit: she wishes she had a bigger bust and was also fit and clever just like her older sister.

  • Tohno was stated to have participated in many activities and was a studious student because he wished to forget about the pain of being separated from Akari. 

  • Kanae adjusts her hair hastily before rushing to meet up with Tohno

  • Sunsets represent the end of a day. Most are content to simply enjoy one, although physics provides an explaination for why sunsets appear the way they do: the change of sky colour at sunset (red nearest the sun, blue furthest away) is caused by Rayleigh scattering by atmospheric gas particles which are much smaller than the wavelengths of visible light. The grey/white colour of the clouds is caused by Mie scattering by water droplets which are of a comparable size to the wavelengths of visible light.

  • I've casually noticed that much of the first two acts happen in the rural areas of Japan; the Japanese country side is similar to the great prairies in some places, with the exception that the latter don't have the ocean view. 

  • If she was lucky, Kanae would be able to travel home together with Tohno once per week. When she was unlucky, it was once every fortnight.

  • My first exposure to a slice-of-life anime about high school was Azumanga Daioh. According to the translator notes in the Omnibus I purchased a year ago, Japanese high schools have TA (homeroom, for those unfamiliar with the Alberta system) based on the floor matching their year.

  • Love at first sight is a common literary device in which a person, character, or speaker feels romantic attraction for a stranger on the first sight of them. It is also considered "The most powerful type of Love".

  • Kanae's desire to be with Tohno is especially evident when she puts in her full effort to satisfy the entrance requirements for the high school Tohno is going to. I recall a classmate who was originally assigned to a different high school but ended up choosing the same one I went to; I believe that said classmate's initial motivations are the same as Kanae's, although there is nothing to indicate that there is anything to verify this.

  • Tohno didn’t go to the convenient store at first but it soon became a habit. There, he would always buy dairy coffee. When Kanae was with him, she would always be stuck about what to buy because she wanted to pick something that would make her look cute in front of Tohno.

  • When Tohno heads out first, she gets disappointed that he’s not next to her any more and would just grab a yogurt so that she can hurry out.

  • Outside the shop, Kanae would always see him typing a text message to someone on his cell phone and every time, she would also wish it was her that Tohno writing to. She thinks to herself that in the future, she will pay full attention to her lover and never use her mobile before him so that he doesn’t have to worry who she was contacting.

  • I believe this is a real convenience store on the island of Tanegashima. When Makoto Shinkai said he wanted to go for realism, he was not kidding. Every little detail is attended to, making this movie highly enjoyable to watch.

  • The next day, Kanae is summoned to the advisory room. She feels embarrassed because Tohno and her sister must have heard it over the speakers. As Kanae sat opposite the teacher, she couldn’t help but stare at the choices on the form, looking to stay on the island or move to Kantou (i.e. Eastern Japan, Tokyo).

  • Kanae feels that it would be great if she could obtain happiness just by floating around in the water on her surfboard.

  • On the way home that afternoon, Kanae's moped had made some stuttering noises at the parking lot. She waits and hopes that Tohno will appear, but he never does. As she drives down the path that Tohno also took, she thinks to herself maybe he would appear behind her if she slowed down or maybe he was home already. When she sees his bike, she couldn’t help but make her way up the grassy hills even though she knows she shouldn’t be meeting him like this.

  • When Kanae hears Tohno was happy to see her because he had missed her at the parking lot, her heart suddenly beat faster as she wondered if he was telling the truth or not.

  • Kanae is happy that she was sitting so close to him, hearing him talk about his troubles. She looks at him as he was staring out at the village lights. Just recently, I was told that life is worthwhile for all the subtle things, such as a lunch hour with friends or watching a sunset.

  • I wonder if there's a word that describes two people who are close enough to be considered a couple but aren't formally dating or anything.

  • Kanae's reason for making the paper airplane was born from the urge to thank someone for letting Tohno be in this world; she just wanted to thank someone for his existence. That’s why she takes out the questionnaire asking about her future, folds it into a paper airplane and prays before sending it into the skies. Tohno's words gave her power.

  • The lone paper airplane is carried a long distant by the winds into a beautiful night sky. Kanae is always uncertain about her future, and her act of making a paper airplane out of her career survey is a prime example of her character.

  • National Space Development Agency of Japan, or NASDA, was a Japanese national space agency established on October 1, 1969 under the National Space Development Agency Law only for peaceful purposes. NASDA merged with the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) and the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL) into one Independent Administrative Institution: the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on October 1, 2003.

  • The two are stopped at a railway crossing close to Kanae's home by the train carrying the components to the rocket. Kanae mentions that the rocket travels at five kilometers per hour, evoking his memories where Akari told him about the speed at which Sakura blossoms fell. 

  • Kanae and her puppy; she feels that despite her uncertainty about her future, the future will be a friendly one so as long as Tohno is there for her.

  • Tohno wonders how it must feel to be a space probe and travel untold distances without encountering as much as a single hydrogen molecule. Technically, that is not true, as deep space is not a true vacuum, but the journey is nonetheless very lonely. This analogy holds for reality too, as some paths to the future are more lonely than others.

  • A halo surrounds the moon as rain clouds roll in.

  • Tohno gets in the habit of sending messages to nobody; the text messages he is seen composing earlier is addressed to no one. Later, we find out that this was his way of expressing himself when things were looking dark.

  • It's hard to believe that Voices of a Distant Star was done entirely by Makoto Shinkai; even then, the movie is extremely well done. It is not surprising that when he has access to a full team of producers, artists, animators, and the like, the quality of the movie exceeds anything I've previously seen.

  • If there is a heaven, this would be what it'd look like: a hilly world of grass fields under an infinite blue sky.

  • After the talk with her sister, Kanae makes up her mind to do whatever she can, one thing at a time and remembers Tohno's words from that night. He too was just doing what he could.

  • It is morning and Kanae was heading out to surf again with her sister. Kanae describes how she thought her sister was sexy when she was driving the car – her slender fingers on the wheel, the morning sun shining on her black hair and the fragrance coming from it. Even though they used the same shampoo, Kanae felt her sister smelled nicer.

  • Remind yourself that this is an anime, and not a photograph!

  • There's something about being able to overcome adversity that makes everything worthwhile.This is the same feeling I got when I first learnt how to ride a bike.

  • Kanae's expression is of pure happiness at being able to surf. From personal experience, I always joke that a particular task, no matter how challenging, is always more straightforward than trying to ask someone out or confessing one's feelings for another individual. I say that because with a challenge, everything rests solely on one person's shoulders, whereas love requires two individuals to be realised.

  • Kanae's elder sister watches on as the former finally succeeds in doing what she sought since the beginning of the act.

  • When Kanae finally manages to stand up on the board, she feels as if it was the moment she had been waiting for in her seventeen years of life.

  • That afternoon while at lunch, Kanae wasn’t paying attention to her two friends because she was too busy thinking about Tohno and whether she should just skip surfing practice and wait for him. There weren’t many days left before the exams so club activity times were shortened. Kanae could feel the tension but her friends could see she was happy and asks if something happened between her and Tohno. She smiles knowing what could soon be happening.

  • Kanae's emotions throughout the second act are similar to that of a sine curve: She is initially excited waiting in the shadows near the parking lot, but when Tohno spots her, her excitement turns to shame.

  • Kanae's internal conflict stems from the fact that she is unable to tell Tohno that she loves him; believes he is searching for things far greater than anything she can offer and eventually decides against telling him how she feels.

  • Usually it would be almost night when they travelled home together but this time, the sun was only just setting. An uneasiness fell over Kanae as the convenient store looked different before her. This time, Kanae didn’t hesitate about what to buy. She went straight for dairy coffee which kind of surprised Tohno. Exiting the convenient store, the world looked as if it was divided into light and shadow. They were in the light area when they left through the automated doors. However, as Tohno moved towards the parking spot in the shadows, a sudden surge of loneliness came through Kanae. She has this one final chance to confess her love, except when Tohno turned around and asked her what was wrong, Kanae could once again feel the words, “This isn’t the place” from him again. His voice was different. It was still quiet, kind yet cold. Kanae lifts her face to look at Tohno. He wasn’t smiling at her and there was a strong will in his eyes. Kanae couldn’t confess. It was as if she was rejected with the words, “Don’t say anything”.

  • Some of my buddies were infuriated with Kanae's lack of courage to speak out when they were watching this. In particular, one of my friends believes that carpe diem is the only way to live in the sense that every opportunity should be taken at the earliest possible time. I personally operate on a different principle, somewhat on the middle ground between my friend's decisiveness and Kanae's inability to decide. I justify this by saying that in some cases, we need to think things through before acting. What applies for choosing a job carries over to choosing someone to share my future with.

  • Crickets chirp loudly in this scene; the sound of crickets is present in practically every movie Makoto Shinkai has made.

  • I've been asked repeatedly as to why I'm still single. I honestly have no definitive answer for that, as love is like rolling a die and expecting a certain value. Or perhaps it may be that I'm always looking so far into the future that I cannot genuinely enjoy the present?

  • Kanae and Tohno were walking home side by side now. Kanae was trying to keep close but not too close, just a step away. Tohno's strides were longer as if he was angry but his expression looked the way he usually did. Kind and calm. She started to wonder if the look she saw outside the convenience store was just a lie but she knew it wasn’t. Suddenly, she found herself asking many questions. Why were they walking in silence together? Why is he so kind to me? Why do I love him so much? Tears started to stream from her eyes. When Tohno says her name sadly, it upsets her even more. The tears wouldn’t go away.

  • She deserves a hug for all her troubles. That, and a quick lecture on courage to speak up.

  • Even the water looks realistic: yes, I included this screencap for the sole purpose of illustrating just how good the graphics in this anime are.

  • As Kanae cried, all of nature suddenly became quiet and the rocket was launched into the sky. Both Tohno and Kanae gazed at it. The tower of smoke it left behind was as if it tore the sky into two. The loud roar of the launch could be heard fading away into the distance.

  • After the smoke had cleared, the sky was bluer and stars began twinkling in the skies. The two continues their walk home. Kanae finally realises what Tohno had always been thinking in his heart. He had always been looking for something in the distance. She feels that this is something that she is unable to grant him. She also knows they will never be able to be together.

  • Tohno and Kanae wave goodbye after that evening. Tohno leaves the island not long after. On the day he was to fly to Tokyo, he only told Kanae about his departure. They managed to talk one last time together. It was a very short conversation and Kanae was crying the whole time, but just before it was time for Tohno to leave, she managed to smile. At the time, Tohno could feel she had grown more mature and stronger.

  • That day at the Tanegashima Airport. Kanae was crying but she managed to face Tohno with a smile saying, “I had always loved you. Thank you for everything.”

  • Tohno realised Kanae's feelings for him: it left him with a feeling of regret and it made his heart ache. He knew she was attracted to him, when she tried to confess and when she gave up but he felt there was nothing he could have done.

  • Curled up in her futon in the darkness of her room, Kanae cried loudly as she gazed at the puddle of moonlight that beamed through the windows. Even though she will be living in a different world, she knows that in her heart, she will always always love Tohno.

  • Five Centimeters per Second shows us that not all love is met with a happy ending as in Disney movies. The movie comes across as being more pessimistic, but it's also very realistic. For each time I've heard a friend successfully ask out someone, I've heard an equal number of people breaking up.

  • Despite our failures and successes, and everything in-between, the world continues going whether we like it or not. This forms the foundation for the final act of the movie.

Five Centimeters Per Second

It is 2008, and all three characters have gone their separate ways. Takaki is now a computer programmer in Tokyo, Akari is preparing to get married, and Kanae appears to have continued her passion for surfing. Kanae is last seen in the ending montage clearly distraught as she watches Takaki's plane take off, knowing she had to let him go since her love was unrequited. Meanwhile, Takaki is still longing for Akari to the detriment of his lifestyle and other relationships. His mundane life coupled with his deep desire for Akari puts him in a deep depression which eventually forces him to quit his job. Sometime after, Akari finds an old letter she meant to give Takaki but never did. It sparks a dream similar to the last night they spent together. A dual dialog ensues where Takaki reveals he had the same dream. In this dream, they both come to the conclusion that someday they will watch the cherry blossoms fall again.

In the final scene, Takaki and Akari pass each other as they cross a set of train tracks (while the cherry blossoms are falling). They both realize it and turn, but at the last second a pair of trains cut off their view after just a glimpse. Takaki is seen waiting for the trains to pass, but when they do, Akari is gone. After a brief pause Takaki smiles. He realizes that since Akari did not wait she must have moved on, and because of that he can too. Takaki, still smiling, does not chase her as he undoubtedly could. He instead turns around and keeps heading in the direction he was, finally content and able to let her go.

  • 公元 2008 年...just kidding  It’s April and it was lunchtime by the time Tohno woke up because he had worked until late in the morning. The streets of Tokyo were filled with cherry blossoms and the sun was shining through windows. It’s been three months since he had quit his job. Just last week he started programming again. He managed to get some free lance jobs thanks to the connections he still had with his company. He didn’t know if he was going to continue being a freelance programmer in the future but wanted to make a start on something. He decides to take the day off having completed a fair amount of work over the past few days.

  • I sense product placement here: Tohno is using a Logitech mouse and an Apple OS X machine of the same variety I used back during the summer when I was working with the ESD lab. I plan on going back there in the upcoming summer, and at the time of writing, I've already submitted my research proposal for funding, and with three applications pending, I'm hoping at least one is successful.

  • I know first hand that being a programmer is a little lonely at times when I'm not brainstorming and drawing concepts with the development team. The events of this final act take place in 2008, a time during which I was a grade 11 student. Since then, many things have changed.

  • Tohno goes out for a walk; a mixed sense of time comes back to him such as the early mornings he would set off to work planning ahead for the day, going home embraced kindly by the afternoon sun shining, the starry night skies and the days when the sky was filled with clouds. It was the feeling of how humans, nature and the city blended together.

  • This is the look of someone who's finally able to understand and let go of the past to pursue the future.

  • Tohno walks on onto a crossing just as the warning bells began to ring as if marking the nostalgic time of Spring. He passes a girl at a crossing and at that moment, a light pranced in his heart. He stopped at the other side and thought strongly that if he turned around, she would be doing the same.

  • Tohno turned around slowly and so did she. Their eyes met; his heart and memories stirred just as the train rushed past along the Odakyu Line and cut off their line of sight.

  • As the train continued to run by, Tohno wondered if she would still be there afterward, but, it didn’t matter. It would be enough of a miracle if it had really been “her”. After the train passed by, he makes up his mind that he will move on.

  • One day in December, the two year long project was finally finished and it was time for Tohno to pack up his things from work. As he got off the train, he was going to take a taxi home but changed his mind when he saw the queue. It was Friday night and it just happened to be Christmas day too.

  • Tohno quit his job around the same time he broke up with Risa. Even though he wasn’t quite sure about it, perhaps the stress from work had something to do with it. In the last two years before he quit his job, his popularity in the company grew and he saved up a lot of money because there wasn’t anything he wanted to buy and technology was no longer exciting to him. He had less time to slip out of his work place and saw Risa less often. Their schedules meant they were busy at different times and it was two months since they had last met.

  • As he walked along the dark streets, his phone rang but he didn’t want to answer Risa’s call. He looked up into the starless sky as it began to snow and thought to himself, “It’s just those few words I want. Yet, why can’t anyone say them to me?” Although Tohno knew it was a selfish wish, the falling snow had opened a door that had been sealed deep within his heart. He now clearly understood that he wanted to hear the words Akari once said to him. “I’m sure you will be all right, Takaki-kun.”

  • This girl is Risa Mizuno, who Tohno meets at a train station. They had met before when he dropped by a client’s office to hand over some work. She had a clear voice that matched her honest look. At the station, they were both wearing their casual clothes. When Tohno finds her leaving through the same exit as he was, they find out that it was a holiday for the both of them and neither of them had anything to do for the day. Tohno invites her to go get something to drink together and she happily agrees. At a local cafe, he found himself talking with her for over two hours about all sort of subjects. He had felt very relaxed with her around and realised it’s been a very long time since he had such a long talk with someone.

  • It was Tohno's last trip home from his work place. He was in no real rush to find a new job. He didn’t know what he was doing or what he should be doing as he walked through the cold night. He could feel the cold air as if his thick coats had no effect. The buildings around loomed over him as if they were suddenly ancient structures. He thought to himself, was he foolish? Selfish? He must have hurt many people over the past ten years and have been lying to himself that none of it could be helped. Why can’t he sympathise with people? Why can’t his words get through to people? He found himself overflowed with feelings of regret. Words from the past started to come back to him, mixed together with the city’s sounds: Risa’s “I could feel myself starting to suffer a little because of that difference.” , the student assistant girl’s “Is it over for us?”, Kanae’s “Don’t be so nice to me.” and “Thank you.” and lastly, Akari’s “I’m sure you will be all right.”. For the first time in the fifteen years he’s been passing through the stations, he cried. The tears flowed as if a giant ice berg inside him had just melted. He thought to himself, “Anyone. Why can’t I get close to anyone and find just a tiny bit of happiness?” He looked up at the two hundred metre tall buildings before him as the red lights blinked. Such salvation just doesn’t come that conveniently.

  • The scene shifts to Akari in the present day. She had found the letter she had intended to give to Tohno, and it was was the first love letter that she wrote while she was waiting for Tohno that day at the station. As she held it, all her feelings from that time fifteen years ago came flooding back about how dear he was to her and how much she had missed him. The engagement ring she had on her finger now was proof that fifteen years has gone by. That night, she dreamt she was standing under a tree with Tohno, silently gazing up together at the falling snow.

  • The next day, she was off to the station. It’s been a long time since it snowed in Iwafune in December. It felt odd waiting for the train together with her two parents because they probably hadn’t done something like that since the day they moved to Iwafune. They looked like they had grown a lot older but that made sense. Akari was about to get married after all and it was time for her parents to retire. Being born and raised outside of her father’s home town Iwafune, Akari had always felt the town was a small, lonely place where she didn’t belong.The Tokyo where she spent primary four to six in felt more like her home. As Akari’s mother reminds her to call if anything happened, Akari smiles, saying they will meet again soon at her wedding ceremony next month so they don’t have to worry. Suddenly, Iwafune and her parents were very dear to her.

  • On the train where she was the only passenger, Akari couldn’t concentrate on reading her book. She looks out at the plain fields of Iwafune and imagined it was laid with snow with small lights flickering in the night. She wondered what kind of sight Tohno saw when had been waiting on that train, hungry and filled with the guilt of making someone wait for him. Akari was sure he must have wished she went home being the kind boy he was.

  • Akari didn’t mind waiting for him no matter how many hours it took. She had no doubt he would come that day and had really missed him. If only her voice could have reached him, she would have said: “Don’t worry. Your lover’s waiting for you. That girl knows you will come see her. You can relax. Think of the joy you will have when you two see each other again. It maybe the last time you meet but please, treasure that miraculous moment deep within your heart.

  • Surprised at how much she thought about Tohno, Akari smiled briefly. She had been thinking about him since yesterday and was sure it was because of that letter she found. She wondered if she was being a little unfaithful thinking about another person when she was going to get married soon.

  • I'm certain that the future is what one makes of it. Tohno's shortcoming seems to be the inability to let go of the past and embrace the future here. I can understand this side of the story particularly well, as I am a bioinformatian (and as such, will be working with computer systems for the rest of my life).

  • It's quite clear that Tohno isn't very happy with his life, despite having a decent income at a job he is okay with. A good job and income is only a component of happiness; love is one that is far more difficult to acquire, although as they say: the view is far more breathtaking at the top of the mountain if one persists and climbs to the summit.

  • There are a lot of things in this act that make it very difficult to follow; I myself only understood it fully after reading the novel. While it's apparent that Tohno is depressed and pessimistic, we never really see much more of his life other than in the imagery that is provided. The consequence of executing the story like this makes it very confusing, and will put off viewers; this is why the novel is a worthwhile (almost a necessity, actually) read.

  • Tohno thinks about how sadness accumulates in you as you live your life just like how dust accumulates in a room before you know it. Just about everything in his room reminded him of something sad such as his single toothbrush, his shirt he worked in and his mobile’s call history. It was probably a lot worst for Risa because he went over to her place a lot more.

  • This is the easter egg I was talking about many paragraphs back: if you look carefully, you can see the individual LCD crystals on Tohno's phone. That day, Takaki also received the last e-mail from Risa, which reads as follows:

    I love you even now. I think I will always love you the way I do now. To me, you’re a kind wonderful person that I look up to even though you seem a little distant.

    When I started to go out with you, for the first time I found out how easily the human heart can be taken over by another. I felt as if I was falling in love with you everyday. Every word you wrote in your e-mails made me happy or sad. I know you got jealous and troubled over many trivial matters. I’m sorry to say this but I think we’ve both gotten tired from it all.

    About half a year ago, I wanted to tell you all this using various methods but no matter how, it never went well. I know you love me as much as you say you do. However, I think our ways of loving people maybe different. I could feel myself starting to suffer a little because of that difference.

  • After graduating from university, Takaki moved to a new apartment in Nakano, Tokyo and began his career as a system engineer at a software company in Mitake. The company was responsible for developing mobile software solutions and Takaki’s first job was to create an information exchange system for mobile phones with his team.

  • It was a lonely job which required patience and concentration but he felt programming really suited him because the amount of effort he puts in never betrays him. If there was ever an error, he always knew without any doubt that it was a mistake on his side. Writing thousands of lines of code and having the programs work exactly the way he wanted gave him great joy. Everyday he would spend hours sitting at his desk tapping away at the keyboard, not being able to go home until late night.

  • It might be a common characteristic for programmers; during this time no one in the company ever went out together for a drink after work. Everyone sat at their own seats for lunch and they never greeted each other when coming in or leaving work. Meetings were held using the minimal amount of time and communication was always done via e-mail. Even though the building had over a hundred people, the presence of human beings was thin. I know that the ICT building is somewhat like this, but during the previous summer, my buddies managed to brighten things up significantly.

  • Life feels terrible when it feels like one is merely grinding towards some unknown objective. Tohno works, but he doesn't really understand what the source of his melancholy is. Should I ask any of my friends about this, and they will say that I will need to (moderate) socialize more or (extreme) find a girlfriend. I say: moderation is the only way to live.

  • When Tohno first met Akari, she was very pretty and he was very lonely. Now, he's pretty lonely. At the very least, when he was younger, they had each other, but even that is gone for Tohno, contributing to his sadness.

  • Tohno's walk takes him to a convenience store. He enters the store and hears "One more time, one more chance" playing on the radio. Its lyrics bring back memories of his past....

  • Akari standing at the train station, recalling the dream  where. she was walking along that great snow plain together with Takaki by her side. She was prepared the boy she loved would go somewhere far away the day she received Takaki’s letter to meet up. Even so, when she thinks about how the kind Takaki would leave within the dream, she would feel lonely and worried as if peeping into the giant hole of the cherry blossom tree before them. She wishes the snow were cherry blossoms and that they had managed to pass that winter together so that they could have lived on in the same town, gazing at the petals.

  • The space probe that Tohno and Kanae had seen launching has finally arrived at Neptune after nine years. This particular probe looks strangely like the Voyager probes.

The One More Time, One More Chance montage begins here. For me, it made less sense until I read the novel myself. The song itself is a single by Japanese singer Masayoshi Yamazaki that was released on January 22, 1997.

  • Tohno walks through the crowds on Christmas Eve alone. many years ago, when I first picked up Ah! My Goddess (Second Season), Christmas Eve was a time for loved ones to express their love (at least in Japan, anyways); the central plot to that episode was Keiichi trying to earn 2000 CAD to buy a ring for Belldandy before Christmas in a span of five days. Of course, there is a happy ending to that. It'd be nice of reality worked that way; in our world, maybe a senior engineering manager or doctor can do that without much problems, but a university student would be hard-pressed to pull that off.

  • Another brisk winter morning over Tokyo: this is exactly the same place as in the image I have from act one.

  • Akari's first day at her new junior high, away from Tohno. She is eventually able to move on and take advantage of the future, something Tohno doesn't succeed in doing until the very end of the final act.

  • Kanae rushes after Tohno in the hopes that she is able to converse with him.

  • One of the letters from Akari is received by Tohno. This is pink stationary, and despite that, it is adamantly not a love letter.

  • Akari looked very much forward to receiving letters from Tohno after she moved to Iwafune, as evidenced by her willingness to grab the mail even in a downpour.

  • For those who are wondering why I spelt 遠野 貴樹 as "Tohno" rather than "Tono", this is a matter of personal preference, as I've seen both being used. His name approximates to "Precious and Free Tree of Eternity".

  • As time wears on, Tohno's correspondence with Akari becomes a distant memory.

  • It can be said that Tohno is oblivious to love from anyone other than Akari. He has a girl who practically follows him around everywhere, and they are as close as any couple. She is obviously head-over-heels in love with him, and he simply sees her as a friend.

  • Kanae floating in the water after falling off her surfboard yet again. She becomes a surfer following her graduation from high school. In all honesty, it would have been nice if the novel explained what had happened to her in greater detail.

  • Akari graduating from junior high. If you listen carefully, you can hear Aogeba Toutoshi in the background when Akari and Tohno graduate from elementary. This song is traditionally sung at graduation by students to thank their teachers. An English variant can be heard in the dub of Azumanga Daioh.

  • Tohno heads to the airport and prepares to move back to Tokyo to complete his studies. I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

  • After graduation from senior high, Tohno moved back to Tokyo and rented an apartment that was half an hour’s walk from Ikebukuro Station. During his four years of university, Tohno spent a lot of time studying but only attended when it was necessary. During the other times he would work part time, go watch movies or just stroll around. Sometimes he would sit in the park to read on his way to university if time allowed it. Over time, he made many friends through work and invited them over to his place for a drink. In the first year of university, he made a new girlfriend who was also a university student like himself. Due to her busy class schedule, she worked during the one hour lunch break selling Bentous (i.e. Japanese lunch boxes) before returning to class. To him, she was the first woman he went out with and slept with. Through their relationship, he learned about new feelings of happiness and sadness that he never knew before. He also thought there were many things humans can and can’t control but, there were more things that can’t be controlled such as love and jealousy. After one and a half years, they broke up because another man that Tohno didn’t know had just confessed his love to his girlfriend. When they met for the last time, the crying girl tells Tohno that she loved him but felt he didn’t love her as much. Tohno was going to disagree but never actually said anything because he thought it was his own fault that she ended up with such thoughts. Even though they broke up, Tohno still had a clear image of her, remembering how she would sit there outside on the bench with her apron still on, eating her lunch before returning to class. She would bring her own home made Bentou while he bought one from her and they would sit next to each other. Even though her Bentou was only half the size of Tohno's, she always ended up finishing last. When Tohno teased her about it she would say, “You need to eat slower! It’s such a waste eating so fast” as if she was angry.

  • Many years pass by and Tohno has gained many things. His programming skills, salary and the trust from the people around him had all gone up. It reminded him of the time in junior high school when he had grown older. While traveling on the train, the high rise buildings of West Shinjuku always looked beautiful to Tohno, but he also found that beauty would pierce through him.

  • At a glance, Risa seemed like a girl with simple long hair and glasses but, Tohno felt it was as if it was there to hide the beauty that was underneath because she didn’t want it to be seen. She was sincere, honest, never spoke in a loud voice and always made him feel at ease.Whenever they were together, Tohno would always feel their shoulders touching on the train, sharing meals together and walking along at the same pace. He could feel the affection she had for him. Both of them soon knew that no matter which of them took a step closer, the other will probably not move away. Yet Tohno wondered if what he was doing was right. However, as he escorted Risa to the station one day, he thought to himself that he had always fallen in love too quickly and in the end, lost the other person in what seemed to be a blink of the eye. He did not want that to happen again.

  • They would meet once every week or fortnight at Risa’s place where she would be cooking in the background while Tohno would be working on his laptop. He no longer had to listen to the lonely sound of tapping any more as it mixed with the various sounds of cooking. It was a room filled with gentleness that made him feel at ease. He ended up with many memories of her such as her delicious cooking, the smell of her hair, the fragrance from her skin and how the taste of tobacco got transferred to her lips from his. One cold night while he was staying over, he gazed out of the window at the starry sky. Risa was fast asleep on his shoulder so they were quite comfortable and warm. As he heard a train travelling by, it sounded as if it was speaking in a foreign language. For some time now he had the feeling that he was living in another place. Perhaps it was even the place that he had always wanted to reach. With all the days he spent with Risa, he now understood how lonely he has been. That was why Tohno felt a great deal of stress when they finally had to go their separate ways. With three years of emotions on the line, they had tried desperately to build up their relationship. However, it couldn’t be helped. He knows that no one can be together forever and Man learns to become accustomed this fact through losses. It was the way he’s been living all this time. Tohno quit his job around the same time he broke up with Risa. Even though he wasn’t quite sure about it, perhaps the stress from work had something to do with it.

  • Akari feels that the memories she had of Tohno was an important part of her now, much as how the food you eat becomes a part of your flesh and blood, they were inseparable. She prays Tohno was doing well.

  • Akari's future husband took the chance to ask for Akari’s hand in marriage when he had learned he was being transferred to Tokyo to work. Akari felt that he was someone who is always complaining about something but she loved him very much.

  • From the movie, I had the impression that Akari was the very reason why he was so depressed and ended up the way he was but from the novel, it’s not entirely true. He picked up smoking and alcohol from building up contacts and just hanging out with friends. Then the pressure at work just got to him and he got burnt out. However, at the bottom of his despair, we do still find him thinking back to Akari and her words of encouragement. When he cried, he said he wanted someone who could say the words he wanted to hear and basically understand him so his relation with Akari may have set some high standards with him. In my case, though this may bother some, my words of inspiration come from my old science 10 instructor, Ms. Vantol. I hear her telling me that "trying your best is all you need to do" every so often before an exam or something particularly challenging.

  • Kanae heads home from the airport after Tohno's departure. Kanae's final actions confirms that she is able to move on.Tohno sincerely regrets what he done to Kanae, he knows exactly what was going on and didn’t try to cut off early, although that is probably a consequence of being too nice, something I happen to embody. 

  • I remember at least one contributor TVTropes felt that Akari was unhappy with her marriage. There's actually nothing to back that assertion; she is genuinely happy with her husband (as indicated in the novel), and here, she is just feeling a little nostalgic and chooses to go for a walk. I've since made the necessary corrections to the page to ensure other viewers are not confused by the discussion presented there.

  • Life moves on for everyone, whether we like it or not. The montage does a GOTO command (something I've never used too heavily in my coding) right back to the scene at the railway crossing, except this time it shows us how Akari gets there. When the train passes, Tohno is content to keep walking. The ending varies depending on the person, and as I am an optimist, I will be lnclined that Tohno will find his happiness in life. Almost anyone can find happiness if they genuinely want it, and rather than waiting for it to come, one may be more successful in actively seeking it.

Soundtrack

The soundtrack to Five Centimeters per Second is composed by Tenmon, who also composed the scores to Makoto Shinkai's previous works. The soundtrack evokes a sense of beauty, wistfulness and melancholy simultaneously, but beyond that, I can't really find the words to describe it, so below is the tracklist and a link to the soundtrack itself.

One More Time, One More Chance- Five Centimeters per Second Original Soundtrack

Track list

  1. Cherry Blossom Extract
  2. Distant Everyday Memories
  3. Irritation
  4. Snow's Station
  5. Kiss
  6. Feeling of Power
  7. Dream
  8. Poem of Sky and Sea
  9. The Feeling that Doesn't Reach
  10. End Theme
  11. One More Time, One More Chance (Piano version)


Infinite Zenith