Another Look at “5 Centimeters per Second”, An Extended Novel Version is Coming

That’s right. There’s going to be a novel of Shinkai’s latest movie “5 Centimeters per Second” and it’s going to have some extra content in it. In fact, it’s already being serialised in the Japanese novel magazine, “Da Vinci” since the May issue.

According to the official “5cm Staff Blog”, what happened was some of Shinkai’s fans who bought the movie pamphlets asked him questions about the sketches that were featured in them. Bothered by the questions, Shinkai went onto writing a full novel right after production for the movie ended.

The last entry in the blog hints there’s going to be a lot more content added to the novelised version of the last part of the movie, “5 Centimeters per Second” when Akari and Takaki are grown up, going their separate ways. As you may have noticed, this was the shortest part of the movie running only at a total of 10 minutes. However, Shinkai had made a lot more cuts to it than the second part of the movie, “Cosmonaut” so that might be the extra content he’s added in.

5cm Novel
One of the sketches Shinkai done for his novel.

The novelised version of the last part of the movie is actually already being published in two parts in the Da Vinci magazine, first half in the September issue and second half in the October issue. The staff has also announced there will be a separate standalone version of the novel so don’t worry if you’ve missed out on the earlier issues of the magazine. No date has been announced yet but I expect it’ll be some time after the serialisation. Maybe Christmas time?

I’ll be sure to pick this up to see what this extended version of the movie is like. I do hope we see how Kanae has been doing and what happened between part 2 and 3 of the movie!

And just out of interest, it seems the movie has helped pickle interest in the book Akari was reading, “The Grass Harp (草の竪琴)” by Truman Capote.

Screen

On the other hand, after much discussion in the Animesuki forums, I’ve reached a different conclusion about the movie’s ending. I don’t usually discuss shows I’ve watched in detail but this time, the story just bothered me because it felt as if Akari was the reason why Takaki ended up with the unhealthy lifestyle he had. After paying close attention to the sequence of events in the last part of the movie however, it seems the ending wasn’t as bad as I initially thought

Sequence of Events in Part 3 of the Movie
“5 Centimeters per Second”

March 2008
You can see the date from his whiteboard and calendar. Takaki has gone freelance and seems to have moved to a new apartment. Everything looks clean and tidy. A cherry blossom petal falls onto his desk and he goes out for a walk. After the bright flash at the crossing…

Screen 1

December 2007
Akari is travelling to Tokyo. At the station her mother wishes she could stay with them until the New Year but she can’t because of wedding preparations for next month. It’s winter and judging from what Akari’s family said, we can presume it’s December. Later, when Akari arrives to meet her future husband, we see Christmas decorations too.

Screen 2

February 2008
Takaki receives the second e-mail from his new girlfriend Risa about how she still loves him. We can see the date in the e-mail and at this point in time, Takaki’s apartment is dark and messy. Moving on, the song “One more time, one more chance” plays with a mix of scenes from the past.

Screen 3

March 2008
We’re back to the present and get to watch the crossing scene again where Takaki saw Akari.

Screen 4

Another Look at the Ending

I didn’t notice it was one long lengthy flashback so I had thought Takaki couldn’t move on with his life because of Akari until that very end scene. However, after looking back at the sequence of events above, it seems Takaki had already moved on before that crossing scene.

After receiving that second e-mail from Risa, he explains that over the past few years he’s been working hard because he wanted to move on. Deep inside however, he knew he was trying to obtain things he couldn’t reach out to. This target must have been Akari since we see her in his dreams during Cosmonaut. We soon see he’s been living an unhealthy lifestyle with his dark messy apartment. Eventually he realises one morning that these feelings were gone so he quit his job. Soon afterwards, we see he’s gone freelance and living in a much better environment.

The final scene, when Takaki smiles at the crossing may have been used to show how well both of them were doing in life so, it’s not really such a bad ending after all.

But wait. Couldn’t that just have been someone who looked like Akari at the crossing? I don’t think it could have been because when they replayed that scene, we see close-ups on both characters. And don’t forget what Takaki and Akari said just before they stepped onto the train, before the theme song started playing – “One day, we’ll be able to see the cherry blossoms together again.”

Again, I really did want to see them get back together but, even if the staff wanted to do so, they would have to separate them to keep to the “distance” theme in the stories. Oukashou was about the “physical distance”, Cosmonaut was “emotional distance” and the final part was “temporal distance”. It’s some brilliant story telling from Shinkai’s part.

And have you noticed the contrast between the bitter, life-like story and the beautiful artwork? It seems it was intentional according to the interview that was published inside the movie pamphlet.

Q: The beautiful landscapes in it are one of the big points in this film, isn’t it?

The advanced point of animation is that we can show more beautiful landscape than the real world. A creator can pour something beyond language into the beautifulness.

In addition, I think landscapes can be the most intimate “cure” when we feel sad or pain. Even if your emotions didn’t reach someone, and you could do nothing for it, you can see from panoramic viewpoint that you are surrounded by beautiful landscapes and have connections to the huge world.

Although the second episode is a sad story of hopeless love, alternatively, we drew the landscapes more beautifully. If some of audiences were in such a hard situation and have difficult time, I hope my work would be a little help for them.

Well, I’ve given in and ordered the limited edition of the DVD because I liked this movie and its artwork so much. Just wish I decided to do it earlier when Yesasia still had it in stock because they cover import customs. I’ve placed my order with Play-Asia instead now and the DVD was just dispatched a few days ago. Hope customs don’t charge me anything when it reaches my door!

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8 Responses

  1. Call me a lazy spoilsport, but I’m eagerly awaiting the novel, in order to make up my mind about the ending. It gives me a lot of conflicting ideas and emotions right now, so perhaps with more information it will be easier for me to digest.

    I didn’t really expect them to “get back together”, I’m fine with their going on with their separate lives, but I did want…something more than what we got, to be blunt.

  2. Well, it would have been a nice happy ending but, it’s still good as it is. The movie kinds of make you think about certain things as you watch them go through their lives from young children to adults. That includes Kanae about not knowing what to do for her future.

    It will be interesting to see what extra material is in the novel and, I really think this movie has the qualities for it. Hope they release the full standalone novel before 2008!

  3. Finally got around to watching the flick and was stalking the web for discussions and opinions. I had the same initial reaction when I was watching the final part, until I got to the parts where they mentioned the wedding and Takaki’s girlfriend (or whoever she was at that point) text messaged him. Then I realized it was all a flashback, and the conclusion of the film where they met at the railroad reinforced it.

    You wouldn’t believe how many times I paused those quick snapshot moments towards the end. Funny thing was during the second part, I thought these were completely different characters until Takaki introduced himself to the new class (didn’t catch his first name during first part. hah).

    It’s a semi-sour ending, but that’s probably the point. Takaki’s smile at the end, the additional ending scenes in the theme song music video made it all a little bit better, just a tad bit more bittersweet.

  4. Still anticipating the novel. Can’t wait to read what new details were added into the third part of the movie which was evidently rushed I think.

    Usually they present the theme song at the credit roll or, play it while the characters are speaking their lines. In this case, it was more like a music video. However, presenting all those past and present scenes so suddenly with that theme song was probably the best Shinkai could do if he was really stuck for time.

    It’ll be interesting if some of those flashback scenes end up in the novel.

  5. The ending was unexpected as a music video. However, the plot was very well thought out and concise. I agree that I would have wanted Takaki and Akari together in the end, but by concluding in this way, it leaves the audience to think more on their own and distinguishes it form your common anime.

    Thank you for writing this analysis, for I was puzzled myself after watching it once.

    Still, one thing bothers me about the plot: Why did Takaki stop mailing Akari if he still loves her? If Takaki was the one who broke up with Akari, then it is his own fault for the miseries he caused himself.

  6. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m sure it must have been time constraints that lead him to the decision of using a music video at the end. I can’t think of a better way of cramming all those scenes in if you’re left with only a few minutes to finish the movie off.

    We should find out what he really wanted to put in there in the novel that comes out next week. After all, he can’t put the music video into it or just the lyrics ^^;

    As for why Takaki would stop mailing Akari, here’s what I think.

    Cosmonaut began with a dream, Takaki’s repeated dream of being with an “unknown” girl. He seems to be happy with her but he doesn’t know who this “mystery” girl is according to the e-mail he writes. However at the end of the second episode, we find out it was Akari all along.

    This could be showing viewers the distance that had grown between them. Takaki no longer knew who Akari was or if he was still after her thus, he didn’t know what to write anymore. The Akari that appears later is probably the ideal version he is after, the image he came up with after all those unsent e-mails.

  7. I love this movie, nothing like this ever hit me as hard as this movie nothing, for the first time in my life a movie has bothered me and cant help but watch chapter 3 over and over again trying to figure out if Shinkai pulled a past one on us, but in the end he didn’t. The girl on the train crossing was no doubt that it was Akari and the flash back was both theres, remember he said “Thinking back to that day surely, that person (Talking about Akari) must also strongly feel it when she thinks back.” then the flash back, Thono was think about his past on that crossing the on the other side akari was thinking about hers. and the music vid came ans so on. I would have like to see Akari and Takaki met on that day face to face like the music video One more time, one more chance. and end it right there, but evens o thinking about i wouldn’t change anything i feel like if you change something in that movie its just going to ruin it. i would love a happy ending, but this ending is reality. Fate is cruel to some that are meant to be together and yet circumstances just happens and bot hears becomes a prisoners of fate. theres nothing else to do but move on. and i really want to know why they stopped sending latters and communicating with each other. I hope the novel explain that.

  8. ops i messed up, ” i would like to see Akari and Takaki met on that face to face like the music video…” what i meant to say is that i would have love to see them meet face to face like the music video One more time, One more chance when there were little kids akari waited for Takaki on the ending of the music vid. when they were still kids

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