Thursday, 30 October 2008

5 centimeters per second

I happen to be browsing around and hit this. Translated from it's Japanese origin, Byōsoku Go Senchimētoru, though the title makes no sense at all (at least to me?!?!) but nevermind. It suddenly errupt to my mind how Japanese anime and drama always have special place in my heart. Compared to western movies, Japanese story-line tends to be perfectionist and idealist such as a story about childhood love that last a life time rather than a man who sleeps around. And I love the melancoly ambience of this movie, considering this is a cartoon. I think the illustrator does spend quite a lot of time doing it.
The plot is set in Japan beginning from the 1990s and ending in modern day, with each segment centered on a boy named Takaki Tōno. It is important to remember that the first episode takes place during a time period when cell phones are uncommon and e-mail doesn't exist.During one spring in elementary school, Shinohara Akari had told her friend Toono Takaki that sakura petals fall at a speed of five centimeters per second. At the time, she had commented on how it looked like snow and had hoped that they could see it together the next year. However, the two had been separated after graduating elementary school and keep in touch only through letters. Akari starts writing to Takaki half a year after graduation, though soon it seems that the distance between them would grow even more because Takaki has to move from Tokyo all the way to Kagoshima. As fall and winter pass by, Takaki thinks about going to see Akari in Tochigi before he has to move away. They eventually decide on a date, March 4th, and Akari mentions in her letter that there’s a sakura tree near her home.When the day arrives, Takaki has the train ride out to Tochigi all planned out. Akari had said in her letter that she’d be waiting at the train station at 7PM, but Takaki notices that it has started to snow that afternoon when he boards the first train. As he begins his journey, Takaki remembers how he and Akari had spent so much time together when they were together because of how similar they were - they both transferred into their elementary school and both preferred the library. They had been teased by their classmates for being a couple, but they weren’t afraid as long as they had each other. The two of them had thought that they’d end up going to the same junior high school, but that didn’t happen. Takaki then remembers then night when Akari had called him up to tell him that she was transferring schools. She had apologized, but he was helpless to do or say anything. Takaki’s uneasiness suddenly starts to grow when he finds out that the heavy snow is delaying the trains. As he continues his trip towards Iwafune in Tochigi, the delays mount and it’s soon 7PM. He thinks that Akari must be getting anxious, but soon his thoughts go back to the day she called him to tell him that she was transferring schools. He feels ashamed that he wasn’t able to use gentle words towards her who was so much more insecure at the time. Although he’s going to see her now, he spent two weeks also writing her a letter that he’s brought with him. When Takaki loses this letter to the wind after he reaches into his pocket to get his wallet to buy a drink at a station, he still continues on. Things get worse when the train he’s riding stops completely because of the snow - he’s now almost two hours late.
It takes two more hours for the train to get moving again, and Takaki spends the time trying not to cry. He eventually arrives at Iwafune at 11:15PM and expects Akari not to be waiting anymore. Thus, Takaki is surprised to find her still there, asleep in the waiting room of the station. She cries when he wakes her and the two share the bento that she prepared. When he declares that it’s the most delicious thing he’s ever eaten, she thinks that he just feels that way because he’s hungry. The station manager soon indicates that he’s closing up, so the two have to leave. Akari leads Takaki to a solitary tree out in a field of snow - it’s the sakura tree she mentioned in her letter. The two then experience the sensation of spring as Akari catches a snowflake in her hand and thinks of it as a sakura petal. She even compares it to snow, just like she had done when they were young. It is under this tree that Akari and Takaki gravitate towards each other and kiss.
At that moment, Takaki feels that he could understand where his heart and soul are and can share his experiences, but in the next moment, he becomes unbearably sad. He realizes that they can’t stay together and that there’s an overpowering life and endless time ahead of them. However, the uneasiness that has a hold on him melts away until only Akari’s soft lips remain. Akari hugs him after the kiss, and the two end up spending the night together in a shed after talking for a long time. When Takaki has to leave on the morning train, Akari tells him that he’ll definitely be ok from now on. As the train pulls away, Takaki asks her to take care and write and call. Takaki thinks to himself that he didn’t tell Akari about the letter that he was going to give her, but later lost. What he doesn’t know is that she also had a letter with his name on it that she didn’t give him. Takaki feels that the world changed because of the kiss and he now wants the strength to protect her. As he thinks about only that, Takaki continues to watch as the scenery goes by outside the window. The story then have a twist. Takaki is now in the third year of senior high in Tanegashima, where the Tanegashima Space Center is located. Kanae Sumita, a classmate of Takaki, has special feelings for Takaki, but she does not have the courage to express her love to him. She later observes that Takaki is always staring off into the distance, as if searching for something far far away.

Final closing : It is now 2008, and all three characters have gone their separate ways. Takaki is now a computer programmer in Tokyo, and Akari is preparing to get married. Kanae has presumably also moved on with her life. Takaki still seems to be longing for Akari to the detriment of his lifestyle and his other relationships, including a girlfriend he has been with for three years. Akari, while going through some old things, finds a letter she wrote to Takaki but never sent. She feels nostalgic for those days but has moved on with her life. On the verge of a breakdown, Takaki quits his job and tries to finally begin to take control over his life for the first time.One day while walking down a road, Takaki comes to a railroad crossing. He passes a woman on the railroad crossing, and he stops on the other side of the tracks when he realizes what a strong resemblance she bore to Akari. He turns around to see that the person on the other side has also stopped and then also begins to turn around, but both are cut off from getting a good view of the other by two trains which cross on the tracks. Takaki waits for the trains to pass, expecting the woman he had seen to be waiting on the other side of the railroad crossing. After both trains have passed, he is disappointed to see that the woman is nowhere to be found. With a slight smile, he turns around and continues on his way. He smiles not because of the fact it was not Akari, but the innocence of his first love and how he had felt about her.

p.s: If I happen to watch it, I promise to share some :-)


MaryAnn Ashley said...

That was a great story. I've never seen an animae before & had no idea how idealistic they are. Thanks for sharing & introducing me to this new art form.

J.H said...

Hi maryann,
I'll posted the link if I found the movie. I think there were three eposides.
If you are melancolic and romantic, you'll love this type of sad ending japanese anime :-)

Stardust said...

J, you're sentimental that I've least imagined. =P

Hey, guess what, I've never been smitten by anime, sometimes, I really feel myself a complete misfit in this country. =P Hahahha...

But I can't deny that anime has an unique world of its own. I'm glad for you that you actually enjoy them. =)

J.H said...

hi stardust,
you know what? actually I've through similar story as Akari's in my life. Life sometimes has a strange twist!
I think we need to swap here, hahaha... I am in Japan and you are in UK, deal?