Released: 2007
Directed By: Makoto Shinkai
Japanese anime with English subtitles
and English dubbing
Cast (voices):
Johnny Yong Bosch: Takaki
Erika Weinstein: Akari
Kira Buckland: Kanae

      Poster for the Japanese anime movie 5 Centimeters Per Second.

When you’re looking for a good movie to watch, one way of determining whether you think you may or may not like it is reading a whole bunch of viewer reviews on various websites—IMDB.com and Amazon.com are good for that. Here is a small collection of mini-reviews posted by viewers at Amazon (shortened and edited for clarity). Links are posted at the bottom for two more in-depth really excellent reviews you should check out if you like this anime movie.

5.0 out of 5 stars
This is a stunning and beautiful anime. Makoto Shinkai is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors. He has a fascination with the theme of lovers who are separated by distances. Longing permeates this work....
This particular anime is about two kids who fall in love for the first time, and then are separated when their parents have to move....
By the end I wanted more. It’s a reflection of how young love cannot last—kind of like Kevin and Winnie in The Wonder Years. By the time you finish this hour long film, you have this terrible feeling of heartache and loneliness.

5.0 out of 5 stars
In all my years of watching anime films only two have been so moving enough to bring me to tears. One being Grave of the Fireflies, and now this one. The characters and their interaction with one another are so human....
The story isn’t 100% perfect, but it’s close enough, and the art of the film will dazzle you with its beauty.

5.0 out of 5 stars

“5 Centimeters is a story in which nothing happens... The tale lacks the dramaturgy that an animated work ought to have as entertainment; yet, my desire was to create an animation in which nothing extraordinary occurs. This is because in more cases than not, we ourselves live daily lives that are by no means extraordinary. If that daily life could be portrayed beautifully, however, then perhaps that would allow us to believe that our own day-to-day experiences are treasures worth living for.”
   —Makoto Shinkai

I found this quote from the director in a tiny booklet that came inside the disc case of 5 Centimeters Per Second. As the cover clearly states, this is “a chain of short stories about their distance.” They, in this instance, are Takaki Tohno and Akari Shinohara, two very close childhood friends who are separated when Akari moves away. The chain of short stories is three links long. The first part shows Akari and Takaki as children, and focuses mainly on setting up the story and then their last meeting before being separated. Part two is shown through the eyes of a classmate of Takaki’s, named Kanae, in the future, when he is in high school. This part focuses on Kanae’s feelings for Takaki, and clearly shows how the distance between him and Akari has created more distance in the form of a void between him and the others surrounding him. The final part shows where Akari and Takaki are as adults and how their lives have developed since part one. Some people describe this movie as a tear-jerker, but, in a word, I would describe it as captivating. On another note, I must add that the soundtrack, background art, and animation are outstanding.

5.0 out of 5 stars
The film was utterly brilliant and takes multiple viewings to totally appreciate. It is about the effect of interpersonal relationships and the traumatic loss of first love. When I say traumatic, I don’t mean hit-by-a-bus traumatic. I mean these characters are bonded from youth and when they are separated, it is traumatic. The film focuses on the two sides of the coin: moving on, and not being able to move on. It’s about love you can’t act on. Takaki is haunted by and is distracted by the past to the point he can’t focus on the present or future. Akari by her 20s has moved on. When they are teenagers, Kanae is in love with Takaki but debates making this known. You understand what these well developed and realistic characters are thinking and feeling. Virtually everyone has been in the position of at least one of these characters. But it isn’t for everyone. Like Tokyo Story [Yasujiro Ozu’s great 1953 movie], arguably one of the 10 best films of all time, it can leave you puzzled if you don’t take the time to analyze the characters and their actions. If you look deep into these characters and particularly the ending of the third act, you’ll get it, and won’t think it was a waste of your time.

5.0 out of 5 stars
....This strange trio of anecdotes in Takaki and Araki’s lives expresses a number of emotions and harsh realities people are forced to accept when growing up. Some people will accept that they didn’t get what they wanted and others will hang on to the sparse moments of joy that they got falling from the sky even if it’s only for five seconds.

5.0 out of 5 stars
The three-part story makes the plot seem discontinuous at first. However, I found on reflection that the story really was consistently examining the same theme throughout....
It is a good if somewhat melancholy look at relationships as seen through time, nostalgic and bittersweet. I’ve seen it in my own life—friendships and romances, left to the vagaries of time and tide, never quite leave us completely, and color our reflections of what was and what might have been.

2.0 out of 5 stars
The characters are pathetic (excessively morose, melancholic). The high-quality animation cannot save this dreary film.

1.0 out of 5 stars
It’s like, be more interesting and not so broody.

And here are two longer, truly excellent, in-depth reviews:

A review by Jonathan Leiter at TheCinemaWarehouse.com.

A review by Alan Polozov at The-Artifice.com, with quite a few insightful comments posted after the review that make for interesting reading if you’re a true cinephile.