For all of its wonders, animé is all too often riddled with cliches, hackneyed plots, unoriginal characters, and shallow eye candy. Of course, not everything can be a Hayao Miyazaki, Mamoru Oshii, or Satoshi Kon title, but even so, one has to wade through an awful lot to get to the good stuff. Which is why it’s always refreshing when someone new comes along, someone who feels like breath of fresh air. Someone like Makoto Shinkai.
Shinkai first got people’s attention with 2000’s Voices From A Distant Star, a highly affecting (and highly acclaimed) sci-fi short. He followed that up with 2004’s The Place Promised In Our Early Days, a full-length that, like Voices…, was as creative as it was moving.
Shinkai’s latest commercial release is the hour-long 5 Centimeters Per Second, a three-part series that follows a young student and his various relationships. ADV, which will be releasing 5 Centimeters Per Second on DVD in December and into theatres for a limited run, has released this synopsis:
After transferring to the same elementary school, Takaki and Akari become best friends. But when both families are forced to relocate, their lives change. After a year of separation, Takaki is about to reunite with Akari. Sitting on the train from Tokyo, memories of the past rush through his mind as he draws closer to his life-long friend. When a snowstorm delays their fateful meeting, Takaki and Akari begin to wonder if they will ever be able to see each other again, and share their secret feelings. Join Takaki on a journey into three interconnected tales of love and lost innocence that span the minutes and months of their lives.
Sounds like it could be all sorts of melodramatic — which, considering how well Shinkai has done melodrama in the past, is fine by me. What’s interesting is that 5 Centimeters Per Second looks fairly straightforward, with none of the fantastical sci-fi elements that marked Voices… and The Place…. The webmaster of Makoto Shinkai Fan Web has already seen the film, and posted a review back in March, describing it as the ultimate result of what [Shinkai] has been trying to make in these years.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.