Anime-Source Staff Writer strongbad87 brings us his look at the first viginette from creative genius, Makoto Shinkai's latest film.
The background artwork is amazing
Makoto Shinkai has once again proven he is one of the most talented directors in anime. With his first short film, Voices of a Distant Star, Shinkai created a surprisingly deep love story that spanned across the universe. Even more impressive, the whole film was animated entirely by Shinkai himself on his Mac. His second release was the full length film, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, the story of 3 friends and their plan to escape their small town lives. This film, while breathtakingly beautiful, had a muddled and obtuse plot that became very boring. Now with his third release, Shinkai has retained his trademark slow, intricate style of storytelling with Byousoku 5 Centimeter (5 Centimeters per Second). The film is broken into three short stories that follow the lives of two childhood friends who fall in love.
Incredible detail goes into every frame
The first story was recently released on Yahoo! Japan to premium members, and found its way to fansub sites. Oukashou (Cherry Blossom Extract) introduces us to Tohno and Akari. The two were inseparable as children, but the two eventually moved to different parts of Japan. The film begins with a glimpse of Tohno and Akari playing on a sun drenched street with countless cherry blossom petals raining down on them. The connection between the two is instantly established. The story then fast forwards to Tohno reading letters from Akari as the seasons pass. It's been a full year since their last meeting, and Tohno is preparing to move once again, this time even further away from Akari. A week before he is scheduled to leave, Tohno decides to visit Akari at a train station near her house. The journey to the station takes up the bulk of the rest of the movie, as the train is constantly delayed due to a bad snowstorm. It's astounding the amount of emotion Shinkai managed to pack into about 20 minutes. The first episode manages to be a sweet introduction to the story that the next to episodes will follow.
Akari and Tohno
The first thing you'll notice about Byousoku is its stunning beauty. Shinkai paints strikingly detailed almost photorealistic backgrounds. His beginnings in independent animation are apparent in the painstaking care he gives to each shot. There is never a moment where you don't see something pretty. The CG work, which is used sparingly, is blended seamlessly with the rest of the animation, serving only to add that extra feel of realism. The character designs are simpler than the background. Unlike most animated films, Byousoku pays extra attention to lighting, whether it's the bloom of headlights or the soft glow of a sunset on a characters face, lighting is as much of a character in this film as Tohno and Akari. The screenshots provided don't do the film justice, you have to see the film to appreciate its true beauty.
Is love blooming underneathe the cherry blossoms?
Normally performances in anime aren't particularly noteworthy, but the two given in Byousoku are outstanding. Akari's voice is sweet and melancholic. Her obvious admiration of Tohno comes through in her tone of voice. Tohno's voice is equally sweet. At times in his narration of his voyage his voice trembles in sadness at the fact that he is late. Without these stellar performances the emotional impact of the movie wouldn't have been half as strong. The music, done by longtime Shinkai collaborator Tenmon, ranges from slow to epic, and matches the events perfectly.
Lighting is abundant throughout the film
While only having seen a third of the movie, I can already tell this will be Shinkai's best release. Unlike his previous two films, Byousoku isn't bogged down by pointless techno-babble, and focuses solely on the love story. With unparalleled beauty, a sweet love story, and great soundtrack, Byousoku 5 Centimeters is becoming one of the most promising releases of 2007.
This is a great example of the care Shinkai gives to each shot, notice how the perspective draws your attention to Tohno in the center.
Outlook: Very Positive. For everyone who enjoys an expertly told love story.
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