“Then right then, I clearly understood that we would never be together. Our lives not yet fully realized, the vast expanse of time. They lay before us and there was nothing we could do.”

Takaki Toono

A series of three connected segments focusing on the adolescent relationships in one man’s life, this romantic drama directed by Makoto Shinkai (now known for Your Name, the most financially successful anime of all time) unfolds with a meditative pacing that is more akin to a wistfully nostalgic memory and will resonate far more with adults than the teenagers depicted in the first two segments. 5 Centimetres Per Second — the title referring to the speed of falling cherry blossoms — is at its core about the gradual movement inherent in human relationships over time, drifting intoxicatingly toward and then inexorably away from one another. Traversing distance, both physical and emotional, is portrayed as exhausting and painful. Shinkai’s animation style is already evident in his second feature film, blending heavily detailed environments with often underexpressive characters, so that the viewer is left to draw out the emotion from the world, often weighed by heavy rain or frigid snow. Unfortunately, for all the strength of the opening two segments, a weak finale means that the film meanders without any real conclusion. The lonely journey, however, will undoubtedly linger.

8/10