Thursday, May 14

Double Take: Makoto Shinkai's 5 Centimeters Per Second, Voices of a Distant Star

Byōsoku Go Senchimētoru
(5 Centimeters per Second)


Rating: 4.5

We never really know when it begins. Was it that walk home? The accidental nudge? That careless smile when you said something stupid? 5 Centimeters Per Second: A chain of short stories about their distance begins with this innocent confusion; love’s uneasy butterflies, and ends with a bewildered long last look back.

Director Makoto Shinkai—whose storytelling is so slyly unassuming that you don’t notice your heart breaking—takes his time to tell the story of Takaki Tono in three breathtakingly animated segments. It’s tempting to spill the all too simple plotline, but no matter how predictable it may seem, it is Takaki’s journey that matter. From attempting to outrun the passing of time. To falling between the gap of the memories of the girl he once loved. He still loves. To accepting the changes that distance brings.

But the main attraction here is the animation. I have simply never seen anything this beautiful. Everyday details fill the screen, luminous and poetic in its context, with one particular rocket launch that made space and distance so painfully palpable.

Shinkai says that “the title 5 Centimeters Per Second comes from the speed at which cherry blossoms petals fall, petals being a metaphorical representation of humans, reminiscent of the slowness of life and how people often start together but slowly drift into their separate ways.”

All too simple. All too graceful.

Hoshi No Koe
(Voices of a Distant Star)

Rating: 3

Mikako and Noboru, almost high school sweethearts, are separated by warring worlds. Mikako is drafted to the UN Space Army and flies her mecha into space, across the universe, while Noboru is left to brood in all the old familiar places. She continues to reach out to him, sending emails that at first took months to reach Noboru. The farther the armada jumped across galaxies, the longer it took to reach him on Earth, spanning years. Mikako remains a 15 year old girl; Noboru, as dictated by the twin paradox, ages in Earth years and by the middle of the story has turned 24.

Running around 30 minutes, Makoto Shinkai’s early exploration of distance is utterly heartbreaking. The ambiguous ending only made it worse: Was it Mikako’s loneliness that caused the hallucinations? Were the aliens (Tarsians) empaths, feeding on the crews’ longing to go home? And just before I can even begin to figure out what was happening, an attack is launched and the young Mikako and the older (and far, far away) Noboru begin a wishful soliloquy occurring at the same time, finishing each other’s thoughts, light years bridged for a few seconds.

And then. I am left drifting.

Voices of a Distant Star is too heavy with details and subtleties, and storylines that deserve more attention. Shinkai simply asks too much from his viewers and this mood fuck is all I got from the ride. This feels more like an exercise on themes; some more deeply explored in 5 Centimeters per Second, specifically the Cosmonaut segment. What it is is this—a battering of beginnings, snapshots of solitude, internal and interstellar battles, and loose ends of what ifs and what could never be.

All under half an hour.


dodo dayao said...

I want to see 5 Centimeters Per Second but given the . . . um,current weather . . . I don't think I can handle it just now. Beautiful little film, though.

maye said...

i've read the manga version of voices of a dstant star. it's so heartbreaking. i wonder where i can watch the film... would you know? thanks.

dodo dayao said...

Downloads are your surest bet.

Thor Bee said...

@Dodo: I watched this again a few nights ago. Very thoughtful. And I loved, loved the montage at the end. Got the DVD at Comic Quest, of all places! Double disc, second disc is the OST. Gorgeous looking sobra.

@Maye: If you're in the Phils, you may also want to try Comic Quest. They have a few select anime DVDs. But this is an old one though fansubs most probably are still available.

Faye said...

I loved 5 Centimeters Per Second. It made me sad - too sad. Dodo's right - it's not for a rainy day.

I still have to watch Voices. Maybe tonight...

dodo dayao said...

Wow orig pala yung DVD mo nito, Thor. Nice. I only have the bootleg. But yeah, gorgeous nga. One of these days panoorin ko ulit.

Faye said...

Ay FRAK! Baliktad. Baliw. I have seen Voices, I haven't seen Five cms.

Thor Bee said...

We watched 5 cm together, Faye. Hindi kasi action-packed, hahahaha!

maye said...

@Dodo Dayao: I thought that's it. I just hope I can find a download link somewhere.
@Thor Bee: Oh right, they do. Thanks.