Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Friday, February 12, 2016

5 Centimeters Per Second (Byōsoku 5 Senchimētoru)

The standard for anime movies is Mr. Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. It's tough to get around that. 5 Centimeters Per Second is a movie that aspires to be a Miyazaki type of film. It isn't, but at times it comes close. Visually, the film is pretty stunning and in an animated film that is always a large part of the battle. Possibly even the largest. I've seen plenty of animated films that were fairly thin on story, but were lifted up by great visuals. Yet I've also seen plenty of animated films that looked a bit lacking on the visual front, but had such a great story that the visuals didn't even seem to matter.

5 Centimeters Per Second does not have a great story. At all. In fact, it barely has any story to speak of. Much of it comprised of inner monolog that convey the struggles of the characters while the movie shows us one nice scene after the other. Which is an approach I don't mind as long as the characters are appealing to me. 

This movie clearly has its fans. If you Google it you'll see almost nothing but positive reviews, but even the mixed reviews will praise how this movie looks.

I am just simply not much of a fan of this movie. It was neat, I suppose. At just an hour long, it won't feel like a waste of time and everything is pretty enough to look at.

However, I can think of quite a few romantic anime and slice of life stories that are just plain better. Typically, love stories only work as long as the melodrama is kept to a minimum and the main characters are interesting. There are exceptions, of course. The anime world is filled with main characters that are dense in some ways, but they otherwise seem likeable and that goes a long way toward winning an audience.

5 Centimeters Per Second fails in two ways. For starters, our male lead Tono Takaki is just a character that takes up space. He's certainly no Tenchi or Ryuji. His journey is somewhat sympathetic, though. Many of us have been there when we were young. We had crushes on girls we couldn't get over and it affected how we moved forward in life to some degree. So there is a door opened for the audience to really get Tono, but Tono himself is just not an interesting character and that makes it tough to get drawn further in by his struggles. He's a blank slate where something could be. 

We're stopped just short, watching a story we can understand and can even identify with, but can't quite run home with. Instead of being in the room with the characters we are stuck outside looking in and sort of wondering where everything is supposed to go.

And that leads to the way this story fails in a second fashion: The hour running time seems a bit too generous.

The second part of this three part story actually seems like it could be taken out completely and the impact of this story would remain unchanged. The story doesn't move forward one bit and we even get introduced to a different character that brings nothing unique to the established story. Again, such that it is.

The resolution part gets too flashback heavy and the overly emotional theme song that starts playing just doesn't quite make the story seem real.

Eh, for my money you should stick with Toradora or Colorful if you want a better feels trip.

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