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Goin’ Japanesque!

“5 Centimeters per Second” Made Makoto Shinkai of “Your Name” Famous First

“Your Name (Kimi no Na wa)” is a blockbuster anime movie in 2016.

In Japan this film galvanized not just anime fans but many other people to form a social phenomenon, a rare feat for an anime.

The director of “Your Name” is Makoto Shinkai.

This time I am about to introduce “5 Centimeters per Second”, his first work that made his name known in the society.



This story follows Takaki Tono and Akari Shinohara, the hero and heroine of the story through their experience from elementary school days to adulthood.

The story consists of three smaller pieces, “Cherry Blossom”, “Cosmonaut” and “5 Centimeters per Second”.

In the Cherry Blossom, the hero and heroine live in Tokyo, having been friends since elementary school. They start developing feeling toward each other in middle school, but they are eventually separated geographically.

The part of the Cosmonaut depicts Takaki who has become a transfer student in a high school located on Tanegashima Island in Japan and his classmate Kanae Sumida who falls in love with him.
The story is told from Kanae’s viewpoint, describing her struggle to confess her feelings toward Takaki and Takaki’s effort to prepare for a university in Tokyo with his feelings toward Akari Shinohara still kept in his heart.

The final part of 5 Centimeters per Second depicts Takaki, who has returned to Tokyo in his adulthood and Akari, and what has happened in each character’s life.



This film was released in 2007 and it is older than “The Garden of Words (2013)”, which I introduced previously.

This piece is the third film produced by Makoto Shinkai.

Between this piece and “The Garden of Words”, he produced “Children Who Chase Lost Voices (Hoshi o Ou Kodomo)” released in 2011.

This piece is the origin of Makoto Shinkai that has established his style of work. From this point he picked up experience of a Sci-fi story by “Children Who Chase Lost Voices”, produced “The Garden of Words”, and went on to producing “Your Name” by blending the taste of both.

The story is very simple. However it expresses our regrets or pathetic longing for what we have lost when we are grown up, not just youthful love mentioned in the synopsis. The story expresses such feelings that are hard to describe in words, using the medium of anime.

Particularly in the Cherry Blossom the background is often enveloped in dark heavy colors, depicting the world from the viewpoint of Takaki and Akari who are small children and helpless against the reality.

In the Cosmonaut the background is drawn with beautiful colors and fine details that we’ve seen in “The Garden of Words”.
This is a world seen from the viewpoint of Kaori Sumida and Takaki, a world that young people who have hopes for the future can see.

This film gives somewhat rough impression and background drawing and production leaves room for refinement compared to the recent works of Makoto Shinkai including “The Garden of Words”.

As I mentioned earlier this film takes on a very difficult subject of what everyone loses when we grow up to be an adult. Thus the film is not for everyone; viewers may have widely different reactions.

However I sense brilliant talent of Makoto Shinkai in this film; he has eloquently depicted ordinary daily life everyone has and particularly the impressionable period when we change ourselves from childhood to adulthood using the medium of animation.

This film has received Best Animated Featured Film award in the Asia Pacific Screen Awards held by UNESCO and CNN International.

It also received Lancia Platinum Grand Prix, the highest award in the Future Film Festival of Italy and proved his talent to be real.

It has been 10 years since “5 Centimeters per Second” has been released but this work is still recognized as one of Makoto Shinkai’s masterpieces.

If you watch his films consecutively starting with this piece to the latest work of “Your Name”, you will be able to sense Makoto Shinkai’s growth in techniques and philosophy.

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Berial the Demon

About the author

It has been over 40 years of reading manga in the deep world of manga. Japan’s manga has an endlessly wide variety of genres. I will be recommending special manga for you to read from such infinite amount of works.

View all articles by Berial the Demon