5cm: When the Distances Between Hearts Become Quantifiable

Mayama is a better man than Takaki Tohno!

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.

7 Responses to “5cm: When the Distances Between Hearts Become Quantifiable”

  • chami

    Now if only they had the actual 35mm during Ota.

    And I still maintain that the ending montage was horrible editing, even though the rest of the movie is beautiful.

  • Spiritsnare

    chami: ADV’s still planning a limited theatrical release for the movie – which I will gladly hit up, assuming that a theatre within a reasonable distance of my house stocks it.

  • omo

    Well because ADV is a bunch of Texans, they will definitely do the first showing in Texas like their other small runs. Just waiting for them to hit NYC :3

    You bet I’ll blog that when it comes~

  • Martin

    I’m crossing my fingers for a limited run in indie cinemas in the UK, although it will be even more limited than in the US…that said, ADV were kind enough to play both Voices and Place Promised at the Sci-fi weekender a couple of years back so we could get lucky…you’re right about his visual style looking best on the big screen too.

    Back to 5cm itself…I’ve only had chance to see part 1 but it simply left me speechless. I have one or two issues with the ‘revisiting old themes’ thing but apart from Shinkai’s obvious artistic talent (especially when drawing sunsets and the like) the thing that 5cm has in spades is FEELING. The feelings are so simple yet utterly heartfelt, but for all this relative thematic simplicity it really hits you emotionally. There’s an honesty and sincerity to this movie – he isn’t afraid to show his softer side through film and boy, does it look great.

  • omo

    Yeah, I think the ability Shinkai has in expressing those subtle (and not so subtle) things is what makes his works great. Aside from being visually awesome, of course. Compared to Voices of a Distant Star and A Place Promised, I thought this piece is a lot more refined even in terms of what he communicates, and that’s what makes this a must see.

  • vlsmooth

    #$%^&#^%^@#&*^$!!! and #&*$^*&#!!! for good measure

    silly fear of spoiling others ._.


  • Akai

    I am in Australia and I am desperate to know when the DVD of Byousoku 5CM will be released. If you have any info, please contact me by my email.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.