Anime World Order Show # 86c – 5 cm Per Second: LOOKIT DEM CLOUDS

Finally we get to the reviews for this episode! Clarissa reviews 5 cm Per Second by Makoto Shinkai, whose works we’ve not actually reviewed until now.

Promo: Method to Madness (24:40 – 25:27)
Oh sure, they may CLAIM to be a podcast dedicated to reviewing either anime you should be watching or anime you should be ashamed to be watching. But which is which? THAT is the question, the answer to which is the base metric upon which podcasters shall be judged. Their first episode was about Fist of the North Star and their latest episode at the time of posting is about Grappler Baki, which are as good a metric as any for determining the worthiness of any Internet being. Mind you, they also talk about videogames and live-action movies too. DAPDX better WATCH OUT.

Disclaimer: the Sean Ryan who hosts this podcast is NOT the same Shawn Ryan who created The Shield. I know, I had my hopes up too.

17 thoughts on “Anime World Order Show # 86c – 5 cm Per Second: LOOKIT DEM CLOUDS

  1. I’m a bit conflicted on Shinkai myself. I loved Voices of A Distat Star, but I have yet to get through The Place Promised in Our Early Days even though I’ve tried twice. The gorgeous music and shots of characters staring wistfully off into the distance was fine for a short like Voices, but in a proper movie it comes across as disjointed and choppy. For the first half hour I basically felt as if I was watching an extended trailer, and then it suddenly becomes a Mamoru Oshii film.

    I’ve had 5 cm Per Second sitting on my shelf for over a year unwatched. I’ll have to get around to it someday.

  2. [In the future, please make at least some sort of attempt at using proper capitalization and punctuation. I had to change so much that I just stopped using the strikethrough tag because it was taking way too long. –Daryl]

    Personally, I feel that Shinkai’s work can be seperated separated into two groups;: the first is Voices of a Distant Star & 5 cm Per Second and the second The Place Promised In Our Early Days.

    I would actually make the comparison of Shinkai to Neill Blomkamp (District 9). His short “Alive in Joberg” was taken to its full fruition in District 9. Its It’s essentially that one concept extrapolated into a feature length movie. In Voices of a Distant Star, there were essentially 2 characters and the story was about their interaction; the war was not an actual event as much as a metaphor for “moving to a new school.” The war did not change the characters (as wars often do). They were the same people at the beginning and at the end of the movie, just far away form from one another. The same can be said for 5 cm Per Second. It was always about 2 character interactions. The world around them did not matter at all. All the changes of the characters are internally driven and not externally motivated.

    The Place Promised In Our Early Years Days is actually my favorite movie of his because it seemed like an evolution of his trade. There was not only a boy-girl relationship, but also a boy-boy friendship that changes because of distance. There were also supporting casts that actually mattered and also world events that drove the character’s actions (war). The only thing I would say that remains that same is the evolution of the main character. It follows the same arc each time.

    Essentially I dont don’t think 5cm Per Second is the next evolution in his style but merely something he wanted to finish up (make Voices of a Distant Star into a movie). I would like to see him make a feature length movie in the vein of “Love Actually” or “Crash.”

  3. Oh Wow. A pertinent cover art picture for the download instead of just some random ass weird image. O_O

    Pretty brief review. This was really more about Makoto Shinkai than strictly 5cm per Second, lol. The part about how each episode represents a different measure of distance was interesting but other than that it seemed like Clarissa was still at a loss for words for describing why she likes it so much. I think we’re all at consensus here. I really liked “Voices” despite its relatively unpolished look. I also think it wasn’t just that having watched it lessened 5 cm’s impact but that it really was the more concise/potent work. Lastly, “Place Promised” was the weakest one precisely for what you guys said. It has the least coherence and integrity and just comes off as “OK.” If he were to make a TV series I think it would have to be episodic or loosely connected in the style of Paranoia Agent or Cowboy Bebop.

    Also Daryl, what’s with all the grammar overlording? Are you afraid someone’s going to read the forums and you’ll be embarrassed? :p [We don’t have any forums, but if you want people to take what you’re saying seriously the least you can do is make some sort of attempt to convey your thoughts like an adult. –Daryl]

    • Yeah, I get what you’re saying, but doesn’t that just hurt them? Does correcting them really change or improve anything? [Yes. –Daryl] Isn’t that more effort than it’s really worth? It’s not like people can change overnight. Also it’s one thing if you’re writing a paper or an essay or something, but to be so strict on a comment section (or whatever you want to call this) seems a little unnecessary/harsh. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you how to run things, I’m being completely straight up and sincere here. I know this is your site and all but a brother can’t even throw out a smiley face, damn! I didn’t know commenting was such serious business.

      Also you missed one.

  4. 5 cm Per Second is definitely a good movie…it’s just not the kind of thing I feel like watching on a regular basis. I can easily acknowledge the artistic merits of the production as a whole, but its emotional impact can be a bit of a double-edged sword. In fact, I wonder what it would be like to sit through a Makoto Shinkai marathon.

    As you’ve already discussed, the big question about Makoto Shinkai as a creator always seems to be whether or not he would be able to display the same level of skill if he moved away from his comfort zone. Some would argue it’s a matter of talent vs. versatility, to put it one way, and thus I’m sure good arguments can be made in either direction.

    In that sense, I guess I don’t necessarily mind if some of the same themes are involved in his future work (aside from the fact it can certainly be very emotionally draining) but the idea of making him direct a short TV series does seem an interesting starting point. That would at least show just how far his storytelling style can go and, who knows, increasing the guy’s profile and influence would probably be positive for the anime industry in its currently broken state.

  5. Where did you guys see this on Rightstuf? As I’m not seeing it there. Pretty sure this has been long out of print as I remember it being out for like a month before it become impossible to find.

    • Yeah, I’m very curious as to how Gerald came upon it on TRSI — it’s definitely not there anymore. I remember looking it up about a year ago and finding that nobody was selling it. Gave me a start to hear that RightStuf had it.

  6. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but Shinkai (along with a host of other creators) was asked to do a piece for NHK’s Ani*Kuri15, which is a collection of 1 minute shorts by various creators. What he made actually turned out to be rather comical. Here it is, with German subs.

    Also, for some reason I remember Bandai license rescuing 5 cm Per Second… I had assumed it came out, but I guess it didn’t.

  7. I forgot to mention, the other thing that makes “Voices” and “5cm” compositionally better are their endings. They crescendo to a much more satisfying and moving climax with the use of their musical scores. I hardly recall any of the music from “Place Promised” but the ending songs in the other two stand out prominently. Music when used properly with imagery can make for some very powerful synergy.

  8. First off, I have not seen Place Promised… yet so I can only give my thoughts on Shinkai’s other two major pieces. But since you three were not exactly groovy on it I don’t think it’ll have much impact on my say. At least, I hope it doesn’t.

    After watching Voices and 5 cm, I prefer Voices for its explanation, exposition and execution. We are given the players, the scenario they face and the difficulties in overcoming them. There is a contrasting pace to Voices. The problem that 5 cm has is that, while I understand three separate stories are not the same as one whole connected narrative, we stay with Takaki throughout the whole film. Having three segments means we don’t have to stay with that character. I know that the girl in the second segment, Kanae, is the focus, or at least the implied focus, but still we’re with Takaki. Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes has no set characters; just a theme. There is some overlap in the characters but nothing that impacts the structure of the film.

    I like the first and second segments of 5 cm for their standalone nature but it is the third act that kills it completely for me. I understand that Shinkai’s whole point was that as close as people can get, if you can’t bridge that gap for yourself, no one will do it for you. But my problem is that in the last five minutes of the third act, Shinkai seems to go into sappy music video mode and give us a whole load of trite, self-serving images. The hero passes the girl, the girl passes the hero, the wannabe girlfriend is seen looking up at the camera. These things pass for the openings to some anime not to wrap up a multi-episodic film. Shinkai seems to be telling me “Oh, yeah I know it seemed like they would get together but I’m going for the bitter-sweet ending. But I’m not going to imply an ending either, I’m just going to have the hero look back to see his girl but not find her. Isn’t that awesome and DEEP?” No! It’s not deep and it’s not awesome. Either have them get together or have her drop him off the relationship equivalent of a cliff. I don’t mind directors toying with my emotions but unless they have a point they want to prove to the manipulation then sod off.

    Clarissa, your review was awesome and thoughtful. It would be nice to get Daryl and Gerald’s opinion on Shinaki’s other two major works and have contrast to what you all think of him as a filmmaker. I am looking forward to watching Place Promised… and seeing if it is as bad/good as others have said it is.

    • [SPOILER ALERT]

      The point of those last 5 minutes is the point of the entire movie: the necessity to move on. It isn’t in the least sense logical for them to get back together and it certainly doesn’t make sense for them to end their relationship on a more concrete note. Because at that time and place they have already fully disconnected. The girl walking there is not the same girl Takaki knew when he was a teenager. All we can do is look back upon those shared moments with a smile. And so Takaki does. In the third part, we hear a lot of monologue from Takaki and on how his life has come to a complete halt. The ending and conclusion of this all is where Takaki decides, at that very moment, to move on. Which is very much an ending as any other. It is the closing of an emotional chapter in Takaki’s life.

      This works very well when seen in the overall picture. The first part of the movie is about the relationship blossoming. The second part is about distance. The third is about moving on.

      In perspective on his other works: Voices was about the (physical) gap between people (this theme runs a bit deeper than I want to explain here). Beyond the clouds is about bridging the gap. 5 centimeters per second is about all that, plus the emotional turmoils you run into when you aren’t bridging that gap. In this sense, I think 5 centimeters per second is Shinkai’s completest work. Part one can be considered as handling the same theme as Beyond the Clouds, where Takaki waits for hours to reach Akari. Part two is about two gaps: an emotional and a physical one. Kanae is emotionally disconnected to Takaki, Takaki is both emotionally and physically disconnected and his emotional handicap is burdening the ability to do something about his physical distance. The third part takes these feelings and puts a definite conclusion on them.

      I do agree on one point: the music is too cheesy.

      • Hmm. Points taken about the ending. However I still feel unnecessarily manipulated by the ending. If the film is about the distances, real and imagined, between ourselves and our main character is where the main action takes place with, does that mean the film is from his perspective? If not, why does no-one else have their arcs resolved? Since the ending is from Takaki’s side of things, how are we to know that girl, who SEEMS to have moved on with her life, is the “real” girl and not how Takaki imagines her to be?

        Sorry if I’m nit-picking but that ending really made me feel sore.

      • The entire movie is about Takaki. He is a fairly characterless character, which is alike to Voices and not at all like Beyond the Clouds. This is a common metaphor, he is representing the writer’s, Shinkai’s, idea of humans as a whole. The perspective (clearly) deviates from Takaki to Kanae to Takaki. But the subject has always been about Takaki. The movie has never made, has never intended to make a story with definite definitions. It is left open to interpretations. And I do not consider that a bad point, rather, it makes me think of poetry.

  9. I remember seeing Place Promised when I was a new anime fan and remember thinking it was boring. The thing about Shinkai is I enjoy his stuff on an artistic level, but as an entertainment factor it’s just plain boring to me. I can’t compare Voices of a Distant Star to a show I love, like say The Irresponsible Captain Tylor because I’m not getting the same feeling. I’ve tried recommending Shinkai’s stuff, and they all come back to me with an “it was alright”. I can’t really blame them.

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