Review: 5 Centimeters Per Second - A Wallpaper Every Five Seconds

I’ve never really understood how, but director Makoto Shinkai managed to cram an emotionally moving film into just 60 some odd minutes. It was bad enough that I wanted to print a wallpaper every 5 seconds(5 Wallpapers Per Second), but at the end I just felt... empty.

The Story

5 Centimeters Per Second follows Takaki Tono, a young boy who developed a mutual crush on a girl when they were in elementary school. It was young love, but eventually her family moved away, and their hearts began to drift apart. This is a story about their distance.


That last line was a little cheesy, but that’s literally the tagline of the movie and it’s very literal. The story takes place over the course of somewhere between 10 to 15 years starting with their elementary school days all the way up to their adult lives. All the while the two are separated by a vast distance. This isn’t the romance story you’re expecting, I can tell you that now without spoiling anything. I’ll do that next.

Spoiler Section

In the beginning, the two of them are separated by miles, but Takaki overcomes this by taking the train to see her, resulting in one of the most beautiful kissing scenes I’ve ever seen and of course the scene of them at the train station eating. Everything looks so cold, yet the light surrounding them looks so warm. And then Takaki moves, beginning part two of the film. Now he lives in Okinawa, which is off the mainland and has no trains for him to take to see Akari. He has her phone number, but every day he just stares at the sunset, writing texts to her that he never sends for some reason. Yet even though there’s a girl who has a crush on him by his side, he still clings to his memory of Akari like it’s the only thing he has left.

That sort of bugged me because the rest of the movie probably would have been quite different had he just sent her the damn texts. Yeah, the Okinawan girl would have still gotten shafted, but it’s still... I don’t even know how I want to describe it. As a result, Part Three takes place when they’re adults. Takaki has moved back to the mainland following his graduation and now works a corporate job and has a girlfriend, while Akari has completely moved on from him and is set to get married. He’s in this complete slump, breaks up with his girlfriend, and quits his job. He decides to start over and moves back to the place where it all began. He and Akari pass each other and a separated by a passing train. When Takaki finally looks back, she’s gone and he smiles, showing that he’s finally ready to move on with his life.

It’s a love it or hate it story and not everyone will understand the message that Centimeters tries to convey. I don’t even get it everytime I watch the movie, but I try anyway and its still beautiful regardless.


The Art


I did call this 5 Wallpapers Per Second right? That wasn’t a lie. This film is so goddamn beautiful that it’s unbelievable. Everything is incredibly detailed and color is used everywhere. I don’t think I can honestly state just how beautiful this movie is. The animation is pretty good too.

The Sound

The soundtrack for 5 Centimeters Per Second was composed by Tenmon, who do the music for every Shinkai film. It evokes the right emotions when it needs too and the insert song “One More Time, One More Chance” is pretty good. To be honest there isn’t much to say on this front.


The Verdict


5 Centimeters Per Second is an astoundingly gorgeous film with a short runtime and mixed emotions among viewers. You love it or you hate it, there isn’t really an inbetween. Your enjoyment may also be affected by which version of the movie you watch. There are three: The original Japanese dub with English subtitles(My preference.), the ADV English dub(More faithful to the original script, but too many liberties were taken with the script as well such as removing dialogue where there used to be some and inserting new dialogue where there didn’t used to be any.), and the Bang Zoom dub(Standard Bandai fare. The dub itself is good, but its westernized to be more understandable for a western audience.). Fans are honestly divided over the two dubs, the latter being made at the request of the original Japanese license holder because they weren’t satisfied by the original dub.

It should probably be mentioned that 5 Centimeters Per Second, a movie that should totally be watched in HD, was out of print until last year when Discotek picked up the license. However, as of this time, they have only released it on DVD, not Blu-Ray, which is quite frustrating.


Overall I give the film an 8 out of 10.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter