Byousoku 5 Centimetre #1: It’s Japan porn.

22 02 2007

Here are some random and unorganized thoughts of mine on the anime:

This anime is all about the settings. There’s not really a plot. The characters are downplayed. What we are seeing is the two characters living their daily lives in a setting which is a lot larger than themselves. The character design is simplistic There are not so many close-up shots of the characters, and even many those close-up shots would contain minute details of the surrounding (even though they may be obscured by the depth of field.) Not to mention a truckload of gratuitous shots of the ticket vending machines, the please-be-careful-of-your-hand sign, PET bottles on a bicycles, etc, etc. I get a feeling that Shinkai’s focus is not on telling a story, but rather on producing awesome imageries.


No. This is not about Akari. It’s about the silhouette of the pole, and the snow falling outside.


It’s all about the sign.

Japan has never looked this beautiful. Although Shinkai stated that he wanted to “capture reality,” even the most mundane sight is romanticized. Shinjuku station bores a hell lot of Tokyo people, but Shinkai just came in, waved his magic wand to change the lighting a little bit, and — poof! — it’s certainly did look more interesting. Shinkai not only impresses foreigners with his aesthetics, but he also tells his fellow Japanese that even the most mundane thing can be interesting if they look at it from a different perspective.


Huh? This is Shinjuku station, right?


Shinjuku station?


Shinjuku station?


The LEDs has never looked so vibrant…

Why do they have to get so emo about this? I find Takaki’s angst hard to relate to. Probably Shinkai did too great a job rendering that it made me think that the story took place today, and this made me go “What? Don’t they have cell phones?” when I see the male lead sobbing in the train. (Not everyone had a cell phone 10 years ago. I know, I know.) Again, Goutokuji station (where Takaki’s school is) and Iwafune station (where Akari’s home is) is only about 2 hours train ride apart, and they haven’t seen each other for a year? Give me a break. Can’t Takaki just ask his parents to take him there to see his sweetheart before that?

Connectedness and safety. Perhaps this anime is as much about separation as it is about being connected.The fact that a 13 year-old boy can travel 104 km in a snow storm by himself safely and relatively easy is actually quite striking. In America or in Thailand, going to somewhere like Iwafune would require you to have a car, and if I were Takaki’s parent, I wouldn’t allow him to go alone for fear of numerous dangers that can befall him. However, in Japan, all you have to worry is your son’s getting lost. This is actually one of the best advertisements for Japan I’ve ever seen.

Nostalgia. Perhaps in 50 years from now, an old Japanese person would see Byousoku 5 Centimetre and get the same feeling of nostalgia as when they see My Neighbor Totoro. Even now, I believe some people would recall having to buy train time table book to plan their routes. (Now, you can just go to http://transit.yahoo.co.jp and get your route planned in a matter of seconds.) Shinjuku, Oomiya, and many other train stations are captured in the anime, and all the station announcements are there. Most Japanese spend at least 2 hours in the train system every day, so its ubiquitous presence in the anime would remind a lot of people about their daily lives.


Something you wouldn’t have to do nowadays.


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14 responses

22 02 2007
Mike

It’s all in the lighting, so it seems. Shinkai really loves his chiaroscuro! And I think that’s his gift–to help us see ordinary life and sights in a new “light” (literally and metaphorically).

22 02 2007
Kurogane

Byousoku 5CM is not about the awesome art, it’s about the theme of “distance” that Makoto Shinkai is famous for in his own works.

Yes the story may seem boring and mundane, but it brings to life the main theme of “distance”, in this case, a physical one, very well.

There’s still two more to go for Byousoku 5cm, and I’d say that “Cosmonaut” will be about “distance of feelings” and the last one, the eponymous “Byousoku 5 Centimeter” will be about “distance of maturity/time”.

22 02 2007
cardcaptor

Mike: I couldn’t agree more. By the way, “chiaroscuro” is a new word for me. x_x One more SAT word in my lexicon. Yay!

Kurogane: What I found when I watched Oukashou was that the physical distance between Takaki and Akari is artificial. With the great train system in Japan, I would say they are still very connected. I don’t mind the story being about two lovers being separated. It’s just that I find it irrational for them to feel that they are far apart when they actually are not.

Instead, I’m impressed by the visuals: particularly by the sights of Shinjuku station and the Odakyu line I used to see every time I came to Tokyo in weekends. (It took me about an hour to get from where I lived to Shinjuku. And that’s probably why I couldn’t relate to Takaki’s feeling.) Probably Oukashou just hit me in a different spot from where it hit you. It’s true that saying that the anime is about visuals right now is probably too fast. We’ll have to see what Cosmonaut and Byousoku 5 cm has to offer.

It’s interesting to note that Shinkai himself stated that a certain kind of imagery was actually one of his main goals. In his introduction to the anime, he said 「そのかわり徹底したロケーションを行い、今この現実をアニメーション表現の中にすくい取ろうと試みています」 (“instead of [sci-fi] elements, we have performed a thorough location hunting. I want try ladle out today’s reality in the anime”) and 「観終わった後に見慣れた風景がいつもより輝いて見えてくるような、そんな日常によりそった作品を目指しています」 (“In the finishing look, we are shooting for [images] in which familiar scenes shine brighter than they normally do.”). This makes me believe that, for Byousoku 5 cm, art comes first, and story second.

4 03 2007
restless

To me, I could totally relate to Takaki’s angst.. I’ve been through something similar in my adolescent days. Made me feel all teary-eyed and nostalgic when I saw him become more and more frustrated and blue. It made it all the more compelling to me.

23 03 2007
DarkPa1adin

wah restless “adolescent days” how old are you really? if you watch honey and clover 2 adolescent can be up to 35 years old bcuz of the teacher in the university

10 07 2007
Joji

A silly review by a person. I dont want to come down to your level but i must. Where did you got the courage to use the word “porn” in line with this masterpiece? My english knowledge is rubbish, that is fact, but that word has only one meaning. All the works of Shinkai-sensei are miracles. A silly bum, like you ,will never understand the precious thoughts and the deep emotions in this film. You are down, so down in the moral sink. The title prognosticates that the full article is all about silly thougts. A “man” without sensibility and morals just cannot see that how a complex creation it is. This film is about dreams, emotions, resolve, true love, these are far above your level. I bet you have never seen the relation between the characters state of mind and the visual imagery. Your crab has no foundation becaouse you cannot see through the creation. The pillars of your criticism are just nonsense. You have nothing to scarify this deligtful film, this deep emotional drama with masterful portrayals. You will never understand the world of Shinkai Makoto.

28 08 2007
Chrno

Mate, i dunno what’s wrong with you in calling it Japanese porn. In any case I just want to tell you that anime makers are artist who wants to show the world the way they think of things. How well the general public connects to the way he thinks determines his popularity.
Ok enuf of that rubbish. In any case Shinkai Makoto has made perhaps an unrealistic view of things but I think it is essential to the plot. Correct me if I am mistaken but the ending has some themes about the realism that all people face (further facts not typed due to the lack of a “spoiler” button). And so while the truth of the settings are far from reality I think it also prepares us for a major teary eyed ending when both characters decide to stop (again lack of a spoiler tab doesn’t allow me to continue).
I am also watching this anime raw and frankly speaking your comments have help shed some light and helped me formulate what i just said about the unrealisticness of the environment. Thanks a lot.

1 09 2007
Anime Diet » Byousoku 5 Cm, Part 1 - the Raw Review

[...] early reviewer has called this “Japan porn,” and not without justification. This is ordinary life in Japan drawn in exacting [...]

13 10 2007
Lala

You know, taking the train and subway is really common in Japan (like riding bikes everywhere) I would know

16 11 2007
Patdbgt

there is so much more behind this series than the artwork. If all you see is the sheer beautiful artwork when you watch this then you’ll never truly appreciate this.

The scenes depict how much in this world is easily missed and yet has so much to look at. The Characters may be bland in look but it goes much deeper than that.

28 12 2007
don’t get me wrong: i love makoto shinkai and all but… at 見ないで! 恥ずかしい…

[...] Cardcaptor points out here, they are only about two hours away. While I liked how Shinkai mirrors the both the romance and [...]

30 12 2008
prast

apik tenan je. terusno ya…..

30 12 2008
prast

nek biso nggawe sing akeh terus ngadekno perpustakaan kartun porno…….

31 10 2010
Pressure Sensors :

it is quite sad that most train stations these days are horrendously overloaded ”

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