I thought that to start things off with my anime blog, I would tell you about my top favorite movie, which is 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007) directed by Shinkai Makoto.
5 Centimeters Per Second is actually a three-part movie comprising of Oukashou (桜花抄), Cosmonaut, and 5 Centimeters Per Second. However, today I will be talking about the first episode, Oukashou (桜花抄). For those who don’t know, 桜花抄 means “Cherry Blossoms.”
Spoiler Warning! There may be spoilers, and if you want to watch this movie without any spoilers, do NOT read on ahead! Otherwise, read on.
Oukashou (桜花抄) is a story about Tohno Takaki and Shinohara Akari, two childhood friends with romantic feelings for each other. The story is set in 1990s Japan, when there were no emails and cell phones were not common. Tohno Takaki firsts befriend Shinohara Akari in elementary school, and as they were both frail and had similar interests, they grew very close to each other. Upon graduating elementary school, Akari moves to Tochigi due to her parents’ jobs and Takaki wrote letters to her from Tokyo. But they begin to drift apart, and when Takaki finds out that he will be transferring to Kagoshima (too far to visit from Tochigi), Akari and Takaki decides to meet up one last time.
Hover over the pictures for captions!
What follows next is a tragic journey as Takaki endures a long train ride in the midst of a terrible snowstorm. On his journey, Takaki looks onto his letter with his true feelings to Akari and is anxious to meet up with her at the set time of the meeting. While stopping at a station, he loses his letter to a gust of wind, and he is close to breaking down due to the long delays. After 4 long hours, Takaki finally arrives at Tochigi and to his surprise, sees Akari waiting for him even after people were gone from the station. Takaki and Akari walks out to a cherry blossom tree that has wilted in wintertime. They share their first kiss, and Takaki has a revelation that they would never be together again after this. Stranded by the snowstorm, Takaki and Akari stays in a shack nearby, talking all night and falling asleep together.
The next day, the snowstorm has stopped and the trains have begun to run normally. Takaki boards the train and tells Akari that he promises to keep writing to her. The train departs, and Takaki regrets the loss of his letter while Akari silently takes out a letter that she had intended on giving Takaki.
Oukashou (桜花抄) is such a great bittersweet story. The movie is very realistic and has great background art, and you can actually see the setting come alive in a great way. The main characters, Tohno Takaki and Shinohara Akari, are also both down-to-earth realistic characters. As you follow Takaki’s journey, you can really get a sense of despair and frustration from him and you can sympathize with him as he struggles to see Akari. This is where two of the major themes come into play: distance and the slowness of life. The theme, “distance”, is used to represent the distance from Tokyo to Tochigi and also Takaki’s inevitable transfer from Tokyo to Kagoshima. Long distance relationships, as we know, can be very difficult to maintain, and going further from Tochigi has Takaki depressed that he would not be able to visit Akari again. As for the theme, “the slowness of life,” the long train ride is used metaphorically to refer to how life can seem to move so slowly and yet so near to one’s destination. Overall, Oukashou (桜花抄) is a great episode with beautiful visuals, backgrounds, and a bittersweet plot.
I strongly recommend watching this movie if you can. Also expect a post about the second episode, “Cosmonaut,” soon.
Other works by Shinkai Makoto: She and Her Cat, Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days