Sighing Every Five Seconds

5 Centimeters per Second (5 Centimeters per Second, #1-2)5 Centimeters per Second by Makoto Shinkai

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Without ever opening my heart, I’ve devoured goodwill to fill my loneliness. I’ve lost everything. I’ll try to accept that about myself, so that next time, I’ll truly be able to let someone in. — Tohno

Have you ever watched a TV show or read a book about people who simply cannot forget their first love? And because of their failure to let go, they end up using other people as convenient rebounds? If so, then you won’t have a hard time understanding why I gave this manga a low rating.

I actually had high expectations for this manga, given how its author was also the one who penned the famous Kimi No Na Wa. I haven’t watched the latter movie, but many of my peers have assured me of its beautiful and emotional story. Thus, I chose to read 5 Centimeters per Second as a hopeful introduction to Makoto Shinkai’s work. Unfortunately, I now berate myself for making such an ignorant decision.

I had no issues with the artwork. The drawings were very modern and detailed, making me feel like I was watching an actual anime. I am honestly not good at drawing, so I am quite easy to please in regards to aesthetics. However, what I disliked about this manga was its horrible and boring plot. Nothing much happened aside from Tohno trying to get over Akari, while a third-party girl named Kanae suffered from unrequited love. Tohno was the primary cause of my frustration because of his pathetic characterization. To simply put it, he was downright whiny and ironically insensitive. I wouldn’t want to be friends with a person like him with such toxic emotions.

Surprisingly, even though Akari had significantly fewer chapters than Tohno, her characterization was more substantial and fulfilling. Because unlike Tohno, she had much less trouble moving on. It’s no wonder she found peace and contentment early on. I’m not sure if this phenomenon can be interpreted as feminist, so it’s up to you to decide.

As I continue to peruse my thoughts, I guess I did enjoy one thing about this manga: its exploration of LDRs, or long-distance relationships. Tohno and Akari were really close when they were in middle school, but they eventually grew apart because of geographical separation. Snail mail was the popular medium of communication during this time, so they promised to send each other letters to somehow mend the distance between them. Aww…sweet, right! LOL.

Despite its cheesy and overrated nature, I liked this aspect of the story because I was able to relate to it. How so? Well, I am currently living far from my parents and close friends. I chose to leave my hometown in search of a career in writing/editing, which I now have. After staying here for around three years, I realized how fragile human relationships could be. Like many other pieces of literature, 5 Centimeters per Second illustrated that relationships need maintenance—a rejuvenating concoction of time and physical presence. Written or virtual communication does help, but I believe that it can never fully help you retain your intimacy with others.

I am sad to say that this manga failed to meet my expectations. I probably shouldn’t have let the hype surrounding Kimi No Na Wa influence me. Still, I acknowledge the beauty of the artwork, as well as its poignant content that made me nostalgic.