Still from 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007).

A repeatedly used gateway tool to turn naysayers into the obsessive fans of anime, Makoto Shinkai’s brutal look at loneliness and the un-perfect magic of love hindered by the cold mechanics of reality will leave anyone who’s ever been in love a sobbing trainwreck by the time it ends.

5 Centimeters Per Second broke my silly prejudice against anime as being a function of portraying hyperviolent frenzy in dystopian worlds. It taught me everything I needed to know about forgiveness, memory, separation, and soul-searching in three segments of tragic, interconnected stories. I think about this film every time someone mentions ‘childhood sweetheart’: not really understanding what it meant to juggle with love at the time, and never knowing what it could have been like.


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