The “jist” of 5cm is really summed up by an analogy of distance and quantifying the things that we can’t say.
In short, 5cm is about people being able to love and come to embrace each other in an ever growing-closer (or farther) circle-strafe dance of understanding each other. If we were to talk about UT2004 deathmatches, words are like bullets and rockets–it’s always good to throw a lot of them at your opponent, but it doesn’t mean you will “get through” to the other side. In Makoto Shinkai’s masterpiece, this is really the same analogy he is drawing except with physical distance.
Yea, bear with me for a second, because distance is both the ammunition and the representation of how close the hearts are between our main character and what his heart longs for. Sometimes it doesn’t take much but a timely-delivered snailmail letter. And ironically 5cm refers to thousands of text messages! Ahh don’t you like that little nod at Hoshi no Koe? I did.
But I suppose most of you reading this post probably hasn’t seen all three episodes of 5cm? Or maybe you have? Subs of it are on the usual pirate-y places now with the R2 DVD release only a couple weeks ago.
The one thing I would rail on is that despite the fact 5cm is clearly drawn up to be 3 separate parts connected by a chronologically consistent main character, the last piece doesn’t quite deliver because the narrative was a bit unclear. We see the “very end” in the first part of the third episode, then we see some of the “beginning” time-wise for episode 3, then we get a musical montage which explains how it all relates to each other, and how the first 2 episodes relate to episode 3.
Sure, if you take a second to think about it, you know what is happening. But considering how episode 2 spins out, the way episode 3 comes about goes against what you are expecting to see. It would’ve helped a lot to make it simple for the viewer if they just bother to explain it for us more, I guess. Overcoming poetic denial? Plus, the ending song doesn’t really hit home for everyone. It wasn’t too bad for me, but some of my companions didn’t connect with it.
In a way, I feel the same about this film as the film itself–words just don’t do it justice. Shinkai’s work this time is not merely a bubbling surge of rushing emotion but a calculated narrative of forward-moving regret. 5cm carries a heavy burden on its shoulders, but when you look as awesome as 5cm, you’re willing to both forgive it and let it take you to wherever it’s going. It’s definitely a more mature piece from Shinkai, and for that he deserves a lot of props.
And boy, is it beautiful. Don’t just watch it on DVD. Go see it on 35mm, you’re going to regret it otherwise if you know how shockingly awesome it is suppose to look.