I was skeptical about the assertion that Makoto Shinkai was the next Miyazaki, and although I really liked he two previous works, Voices of a Distant Star and The Place Promised in Our Early Days, I could not bring myself to lavish him with such high praise until he made a movie that blew me away and that would become an instant favorite. It would seem that I made a wise decision. Miyazaki is undoubtedly one of the greatest anime directors to ever live, and his films (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke) rival those of any genera, animation or otherwise. He's been said to be on par with Disney, but that is a lie. Miyazaki is BETTER then Disney. So obviously I'm always skeptical to people comparing an up and coming director to Miyazaki.
I watched Shinkai's carrier with great interest from his debut film Voices of a Distant Star to this new film. His strong suits have always been animation and music. No anime director I've ever seen can create such beautiful animation as he, and few can combine such stunning and magnificent animation with just the right music to set the tone and take his viewers far away to walk the snow covered streets along side the characters. He's great at this, but for all that talent he also has a critical flaw to his style which makes his movies miss their full potential; he has no idea what pacing means. Being only 23 minutes long, Voices was paced very well and never had a dull moment, but the follow up Places, being full length, was paced so badly it made me want to skip large portions of the film so I could see some more beautiful landscaping. If the animation and music weren't so great, I doubt so many people would love that movie so much, even though I personally gave it 4 stars.
But now, with his third film, I expected him to have found away around that weakness and create a film that wasn't just visually beautiful, but also well paced as well. Well sorry, but he hasn't done it, and my patience with him is wearing thin. In this three part film Tonoo and Akari are best friends in grade school who spend all their free time with one another, but as they grow up they slowly drift apart, contacting one another at first through letters and then falling out of contact altogether. It is, surprise, surprise, another romance. This would not have been a problem if this new film didn't seem like a carbon copy of Voices and Places, especially places. Guy and girl fall in love at an early age, guy and girl drift apart as life goes on and they grow up, guy and girl never get over each other and miss the other, guy and girl sit awake in their rooms all night thinking about the other, guy and girl never see each other again. If you've seen Places you can pretty much see everything that's coming. There are no surprises here, just gooey romance.
It's a real disappointment to see an animator with so much promise get bogged down in these silly romances again and again and again. Voices was good, Places was as well, but Shinkai always tells the same exact story. Its not that he likes telling a certain kind of story, it's that he likes telling only ONE kind of story, every single time. Get a grip man; make something a little more original. Its bad enough that his pacing is so bad but why even bother making new movies when you're just going to tell old stories again and again and again? If this is all Shinkai has to offer then it's not worth my time seeing every film he comes up with.
The animation, as always, is brilliant. I just don't know how much more I can gush over his amazing art. I've been saying this since Voices, but his three films are THE BEST animated films I've ever seen, and I've seen my fair share. Unfortunately this film is missing something; the music. Both his previous films have amazing musical scores that made the film just that much better. I never fail to catch myself humming their main themes after watching them without even noticing. Well I'm not going to end up humming these tunes, that's for sure. For one thing there wasn't enough BGM to begin with, and what little there is was just a remix of old themes. But the biggest disappointment was the ending song. It's just not pretty; I'm sorry, but Japanese isn't the most beautiful language to listen to. The ending song was nowhere near beautiful, in fact I found myself turning the volume down and playing a song of my own instead. If they had only play "Don't Say Goodbye" from Skillets album Comatose then it would have been the greatest scene ever (trust me, listen to the song and watch the scene and you'll see what I mean).
So no, this is not the next Miyazaki, not even close if this film is any indication. I don't think I've ever given a Miyazaki film less then 4 stars, he is far and away the most consistent director I've ever watched, so if Shinkai can't pull it off after three tries I think its an unfair comparison.
Replay value; low.
Skip to 1:00 on the video. I swear its like the song was made for this movie, its perfectly timed and everything.
Pros: Animation, musical score, David Matranga as Takaki Tono, re-appearance of the train motif. Cons: One-sided view of a recycled story, characters are developed and then abandoned, character designs fall a bit flat. Plot Summary: The film’s plot is summarized in the Wiki article. Please see the Wiki at the right for more details. Review Body: *This review reveals details … more
5 Centimeters Per Second introduces us to Tono Takaki and Shinohara Akari, two gradeschool friends who are separated when one is transferred to another school that is far away. Letters and phone calls are the only way to bridge the gap; but eventually as they grow older and meet new people, there isn't much left between them but some lingering memories. Part of Director Makoto Shinkai's genius is that he echoes frames and compositions from each vignette; possibly an allusion … more
I am a member of the US Air Force and presently serve overseas at RAF Mildenhall about three hours north of London. I grew up in Pappilion Nebraska and Crestview Florida, but since joining the Air Force … more
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A tale of two people, Tono Takaki and Shinohara Akari, who were close friends but gradually grow farther and farther apart as time moves on. They become separated because of their families yet continue to exchange contact in the form of letters. Yet as time continues to trudge on, their contact with one another begins to cease. Years pass and the rift between them grows ever larger. However, Takaki remembers the times they have shared together, but as life continues to unfold for him, he wonders if he would be given the chance to meet Akari again as the tale embarks on Takaki's realization of the world and people around him.