On February 16,2007 Makoto Shinkai released the first part of his new three part film. His newest anime film project is titled Byōsoku 5 Senchimētoru in Japanese, or 5 Centimeters Second in English, the film also has a subtitle of A Chain of Short Stories About Their Distance. The first part of the three part film is titled Ōkashō in Japanese, and can be translated into English as Cherry Blossom Extract.
As in his previous films, Makoto Shinkai stays with the themes that has endeared him his many fans. Makoto Shinkai first two anime films Voices of a Distant Star, and The Place Promised in Our Early Days both dealt with issues of love and yearning, loneliness and loss, and people separated by space and time, this film is no different. I feel that over his past three films Makoto Shinkai has started to show a great new maturity in his writing, in his previous two films I felt that some of the main character’s motivations, and emotions were not quite realistic, not to sound picky, but I felt they were slightly off. In his latest offering, Ōkashō, I feel that Makoto Shinkai has crafted a classic in every sense of the word. Ōkashō follow the relationship of Takaki Tōno, and Akari Shinohara two elementary school students who become close friends, than boyfriend and girlfriend.The film covers their relationship as it moves from elementary school to Junior high-school, and their heart rending separation while in junior high-school. Below is a screen short of Takaki and Akari.
After Takaki, and Akari’s separation they keep in touch by letter, and telephone, through these letters and telephone calls the viewer is given a look into deepest personal feelings of Takaki, and Akari. They both know what they feel in their hearts, but being young they struggle with being able to tell each-other how they feel. I have watched many films and anime that delt with love and loss, but very few a come close to capturing how teenagers struggle with love, yearning, loss, and loneliness, I feel that this film captures those feeling perfectly. After a few years of separation Takaki finds out that his family is going to move even futher away for Akari than before, the two set up a meeting at a train station. Neither Takaki or Akari know if they will ever meet in person for years, or ever again. This meeting sets up one of the most heartwarming, and also heartbreaking sequences in anime. Below are some screen shots of their meeting.
After their separation, both Takaki, and Akari both realise that they forgot to give each-other letters written to one another. But I feel it didn’t matter, they were able to express in person what they could not do in writing, or over the phone.
This anime is a must see for anyone who loves a good romance or drama, it has it all, great animation, great story, and great dialogue. This anime demonstrates more quality in its 30 minutes than other anime do in 100 episodes.
Also a note on the title, Ōkashō (Cherry Blossom Extract), in Japanese culture cherry blossoms, and falling cherry blossoms are often associated with the concept of mono no aware, which is often translated to mean the Ah-ness of things, or the sadness of all things. Meaning that Takaki and Akari love is extremely sweet, and sad at the same time, just like the cherry blossoms, while beautiful and awe inspiring, they only last a short time. Short but sweet, with just a little taste of bitterness and pain, just like teenage love, while that love may not be the one to last a lifetime, you’ll always remember it.