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5 Centimeters per Second Paperback – June 26, 2012
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Praise for the animated film by Makoto Shinkai:
[Makoto] Shinkai has been hailed as the next Hayao Miyazaki, and his dreamy mindscapes often equal or surpass the anime maestro in breadth of detail and depth of emotion." - Ronnie Scheib, Variety
"In 5 Centimeters [Shinkai's] imagination may not leap to Hayao Miyazaki's strange and wonderful heights, but he is better (blasphemy!) at piercing the veil of the everyday to reveal a poignant, evanescent beauty most of us notice only in rare moments...Is he really the "new Miyazaki?" He won't become one by imitating the master, but at 34 he is the anime world's bright new hope. That and a brilliant minor gem like "5 Centimeters per Second" are enough, for now." - Japan Times
About the Author
Makoto Shinkai is a Japanese film director, animator, and writer. A native of the Nagano prefecture in Japan, he studied Japanese literature at Chuo University. He traces his passion for creation to the manga, anime, and novels he was exposed to while in middle school. Considered one of the best animators in the world today, he is often called the "next-Miyazaki". Shinkai developed his abilities as a video game designer for FalCom, where he worked on the cult-classic role-playing game Y"S. Shinkai is unique as an animator as he cut his teeth by producing almost all elements many of his works - from animation to music composition to voice acting. He has won numerous awards: 12th DoGA CG Animation Award; 1st New Tokyo International Animation FestivalGrand Prize; 7th Kobe Animation Prize; 6th Japanese Media Art; Awardfor Digital Media; 34th Nebula Award(World Con); 59th Mainichi Films Animation Prize; 2007 Asia Pacific Film Award; and theLancia Platinum Grand Prize (Italy).
His film credits include: Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, 5 Centimeters Per Second, and Children who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below
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The story is about a boy and girl named Tōno Takaki and Shinohara Akari, who meet in elementary school and very quickly develop a friendship which grows, even at such a young age, into a very tender love. Unfortunately, Akari must eventually move away so her father can assume a new job in a different city. Devestated, the two young people vow to write to each other and never forget each other. Sadly, as is often the case in life, this isn't to be.
They try to keep in touch for a while, but slowly just drift apart from each other. They are both bothered by this, but can't seem to take the initiative to write to each other. They deeply want to reach out to each other, but can't muster the courage to do so. Or the courage to move on.
The story focuses much more on Takaki than Akari. We only see a few snippets of her once they lose touch with each other. They do show us that she is the far stronger of the two. She can move past the hurt and circumstances in a way that he can not. Then again, this is just my interpretation, but both of them seem to react to the situation based upon the cultural expectations of Japanese society.
This story is set several years ago, at a time when cell phones and computers were not nearly as ubiquitous as they are now. The characters can lose track of each other much more easily as they do not have social media to help them keep constantly in touch with each other. It is a time that does have a simplicity that require the extra effort and care to keep in touch. We have lost that today, perhaps.
So why would I read and love such a melancholy graphic novel? Because of the story, the characterization, and the artwork. The art is gorgeous, with each character drawn well. The story draws you in. Though Takaki and Akari are the main characters, we see them, well, in the case of Takaki, through the eyes of other people. It helps us to capture a sense of the pain and the progress of these two young people when you see their interactions with others.
One reason I did like the end is that it was open for interpretation, but there is a good chance that, in the end, not just Akari, but also Takaki, ended up happy with other people. Whether this is the case with Takaki is up to the reader to decide, I suppose.
This is perhaps one of the most beautiful, poignant, and meaningful mangas (or stories of any genre) I have read in a long time.
This book has four colored pages, very detailed scenes, accurately drawn characters with very few flaws, and a unique kind of font for the words which I enjoyed. The story doesn't have any bad or annoying characters, and compared to most manga you can really see their emotions at play. Now there were a few point's where it was confusing to tell who is talking in certain scenes, but other than that, no real complaints. I love this book!