This is it. The last part of the 5cm novel. The animated version was the shortest part of the movie yet, was also the part that received the most cuts – even more than Cosmonaut. Here in the novel however, it is the longest coming in at 67 pages, 8 chapters.
There was a lot to note because practically the entire story was new material so, don’t expect too many screenshots to accompany this post. As for any of the ones that you might not have noticed before from the movie, I just watched out carefully for the images that flash by when the theme song plays and tried to choose the most appropriate ones to fit in with the new scenarios. They do not necessarily portray what’s in the novel so please bear that in mind when reading.
As mentioned in the Amazon summary, this part of the novel covers Takaki’s university life all the way through to his employment as a system engineer. It also covers a bit more about Kanae as mentioned in the reviews.
I’m sure most of you who will be reading this post will probably have seen the movie but for those that haven’t yet, this post contains the full contents of Akari and Takaki’s love letters so you may not want to read on.
You’ll have to excuse the terrible photo quality here because my brother’s on holiday and I lent him my digicam. I’m just using my mobile to snap these photos just now and it doesn’t have a macro mode. I will update the photos once I have the camera back in a few weeks time.
- One night, Akari had a dream from long ago. She was walking along that great snow plain together with Takaki by her side. She was prepared the boy she loved would go somewhere far away the day she received Takaki’s letter to meet up. Even so, when she thinks about how the kind Takaki would leave within the dream, she would feel lonely and worried as if peeping into the giant hole of the cherry blossom tree before them. She wishes the snow were cherry blossoms and that they had managed to pass that winter together so that they could have lived on in the same town, gazing at the petals.
- It was late around midnight and Takaki was still awake in his apartment, drinking beer while trying to read with only the TV on. He couldn’t sleep. When he finds he couldn’t read either, he turns off the TV and finds himself surrounded in complete silence and can feel the snow falling outside. He has a bit of nostalgia and thinks back to 15 years ago at that cherry blossom tree.
- It’s only been 3 weeks since Takaki quit his job and since then, he’s been doing nothing but lazy around. Picking up his jacket, he decides to go out for a walk in the cold night. Entering a store, he picked up the weekly science magazine. It’s been several years since he read it as a senior high student. He notices the song playing in the store was the same one he heard back then. Suddenly he feels the flame re-kindled inside him and his feelings coming back. He looks at the falling snow and thinks it will be the cherry blossom season soon.
- After graduation from senior high, Takaki moved back to Tokyo and rented an apartment that was half an hour’s walk from Ikebukuro Station. The people here seemed rougher to him in comparison to the people he spent the past few years with on Tanegashima. He had lived here between the ages of eight to thirteen and remembered Tokyo as a calm, high class place. Everything seemed different now. He didn’t understand why the people dropped litter everywhere, spat where they like and sounded so rude. It didn’t matter, though. He has learned to adapt and was now no longer a powerless child.
- During his four years of university, Takaki spent a lot of time studying but only attended when it was necessary. During the other times he would work part time, go watch movies or just stroll around. Sometimes he would sit in the park to read on his way to university if time allowed it. Over time, he made many friends through work and invited them over to his place for a drink. Many of his perceptions of life changed over this period of time but there were many that strengthened.
- In the first year of university, he made a new girlfriend who was also a university student like himself. Due to her busy class schedule, she worked during the one hour lunch break selling Bentous (i.e. Japanese lunch boxes) before returning to class. To him, she was the first woman he went out with and slept with. Through their relationship, he learned about new feelings of happiness and sadness that he never knew before. He also thought there were many things humans can and can’t control but, there were more things that can’t be controlled such as love and jealousy.
- After one and a half years, they broke up because another man that Takaki didn’t know had just confessed his love to his girlfriend. When they met for the last time, the crying girl tells Takaki that she loved him but felt he didn’t love her as much. Takaki was going to disagree but never actually said anything because he thought it was his own fault that she ended up with such thoughts.
- Even though they broke up, Takaki still had a clear image of her, remembering how she would sit there outside on the bench with her apron still on, eating her lunch before returning to class. She would bring her own home made Bentou while he bought one from her and they would sit next to each other. Even though her Bentou was only half the size of Takaki’s, she always ended up finishing last. When Takaki teased her about it she would say, “You need to eat slower! It’s such a waste eating so fast” as if she was angry.
- By the time Takaki was in third year, he worked as an assistant maths tutor at a cramming school where students prepared themselves to take their university entrance exams. There, he met another girl who was a student assistant. She had long beautiful hair, big eyes and had a certain grace about her. All the male students and teachers always took their chance to talk to her. They all thought she was nice and very sociable but, Takaki noticed something about her the others didn’t. She only showed her beautiful smile when necessary, when people talked to her. Other times she wouldn’t take the initiative to talk to others. Takaki didn’t really have any interest in her.
- One day in December just before Christmas, the maths tutor Takaki was assisting goes home because he had some important business to take care of. Takaki and the girl were left alone at the school to create the question papers for the class. When he looked up, something seemed to be wrong with the girl. She was sitting with her face down, staring at something but it wasn’t the question papers on her table. She began to shake and sweat. Concerned, Takaki walks over and finds out she needed something to drink so that she could take her medicine. He remembers how he rushed out to buy something for her to drink and how hot touch of her lips when he helped feed her the pills.
- After that, the two dated for three months before breaking up. For two months, they had always thought about how to love each other more but, things turned the other way round. For the last month they only thought of how to hurt each other and ended up arguing over matters that they couldn’t tell anyone else. It left a great wound on Takaki and perhaps her too.
- When Takaki thinks back to this girl named Sakaguchi, he would remember how the colours came back to her face after she took her medicine. That moment, it was as if he was watching a flower blooming, one that no one had ever seen before in the world. He had this feeling long ago before and didn’t want to lose it again. At the time, it didn’t matter to him that she was already going out with the maths tutor he was working under.
- It was three months later before he recovered from that ordeal. It was Takaki’s fourth year and it was summer. Thanks to some advice from his kind guidance teacher, he had decided on what job to go for when autumn comes. Even though he didn’t know if it was the job he wanted to do or if it was the job he should be doing, he had had enough of university and felt a researcher should try settling himself in other environments.
- After graduating from university, Takaki moved to a new apartment in Nakano, Tokyo and began his career as a system engineer at a software company in Mitake. The company was responsible for developing mobile software solutions and Takaki’s first job was to create an information exchange system for mobile phones with his team.
- It was a lonely job which required patience and concentration but he felt programming really suited him because the amount of effort he puts in never betrays him. If there was ever an error, he always knew without any doubt that it was a mistake on his side. Writing thousands of lines of code and having the programs work exactly the way he wanted gave him great joy. Everyday he would spend hours sitting at his desk tapping away at the keyboard, not being able to go home until late night. He was lucky if he had five days holiday each month still he couldn’t get enough of his job.
- It might be a common characteristic for his field of work but, during this time no one in the company ever went out together for a drink after work. Everyone sat at their own seats for lunch and they never greeted each other when coming in or leaving work. Meetings were held using the minimal amount of time and communication was always done via e-mail. Even though the building had over a hundred people, the presence of human beings was thin. Only the tapping sound of keyboards could be heard.
- As he became more and more used to computers, he began to think about the amazing amount of complexity of the tool that Man made and begins to think about all theories used in science. It was as if he was getting closer to the secrets of the world again. This reminded him of his past feelings, dreams and also the promise that he made with Akari but couldn’t keep. As if trying to retrieve a precious something, he started to concentrate deeply in his work. He typed away at the keyboard as if he was a lone musician, deep in conversation with his instrument.
- Soon many years pass and Takaki has gained many things. His programming skills, salary and the trust from the people around him had all gone up. It reminded him of the time in junior high school when he had grown older and more muscular. He now spent the holidays cleaning his room, reading books and going out with his friends. He still worked late from half eight in the morning until past one at night. While travelling on the train, the high rise buildings of West Shinjuku always looked beautiful but, sometimes he would find that beauty piercing through him. He didn’t know why.
- One day he met Risa Mizuno again at the station. They had met before when he dropped by a client’s office to hand over some work. She had a clear voice that matched her honest look. At the station, they were both wearing their casual clothes. When Takaki finds her leaving through the same exit as he was, they find out that it was a holiday for the both of them and neither of them had anything to do for the day. Takaki invites her to go get something to drink together and she happily agrees. At a local cafe, he found himself talking with her for over two hours about all sort of subjects. He had felt very relaxed with her around and realised it’s been a very long time since he had such a long talk with someone.
- Soon, Risa and Takaki were building up their feelings for each other as they took turns inviting each other out for dinner and going to watch movies together. At a glance, Risa seemed like a girl with simple long hair and glasses but, Takaki felt it was as if it was there to hide the beauty that was underneath because she didn’t want it to be seen. She was sincere, honest, never spoke in a loud voice and always made him feel at ease.
- Whenever they were together, Takaki would always feel their shoulders touching on the train, sharing meals together and walking along at the same pace. He could feel the affection she had for him. Both of them soon knew that no matter which of them took a step closer, the other will probably not move away. Yet Takaki wondered if what he was doing was right. However, as he escorted Risa to the station one day, he thought to himself that he had always fallen in love too quickly and in the end, lost the other person in what seemed to be a blink of the eye. He did not want that to happen again.
- That summer, he saw on TV that another rocket was launched from Tanegashima. It reminded him of the time he watched a similar launch with Kanae when he was seventeen years old. Over the ten years that has passed, his memories had been gently locked away but every bit of memory about her came flooding back. Her small figure, her voice, her crying face. It all came back to him as if it was a feeling of regret and it made his heart ache. He knew she was attracted to him, when she tried to confess and when she gave up but there was nothing he could have done.
- That day, when he left for the airport on Tanegashima to fly to Tokyo, he only told Kanae about his departure. They managed to talk one last time together. It was a very short conversation and Kanae was crying the whole time but just before it was time for Takaki to leave, she managed to smile. At the time, Takaki could feel she had grown more mature and stronger. He couldn’t remember if he managed to smile back to her, though.
- At around half two that late summer night just as Takaki was going to go to bed, his phone by his bed lit up. It was another e-mail from Risa inviting him to dinner. He closed his eyes but could still sense the light from his phone. Then he remembered someone telling him once that the pressure exerted by the eyelids on the eyeball, controlled how much light the optical nerves sensed light. Who could it have been?
- Next we have an explanation about the unsent e-mails that Takaki wrote in Cosmonaut during the movie. Takaki remembers the time when he used to write e-mails to Akari even though he never knew her address. He never found out by the time he stopped exchanging letters with her. Yet, he continued to write e-mails to her on the phone whenever he felt too overwhelmed with emotions. It helped support him while he prepared himself to go out into the world alone. Eventually it just turned into a habit of writing monologue e-mails. Thinking back to it all pained him but at least he had someone precious to him now. Deciding that he will confess his feelings to Risa just like how Kanae tried to him, he wrote a reply back to Risa.
- That day at the Tanegashima Airport. Kanae was crying but she managed to face Takaki with a smile saying, “I had always loved you. Thank you for everything.”
- It was Takaki’s third year as a system engineer. A decision has been made to shrink the scope of his team’s project and the leader orders Takaki to break up what they’ve done so far into some reusable modules to lower their losses. Overloaded with code to work with, Takaki decides to try his own solution to his team’s problem only to get into trouble with the leader.
- Going back to their old ways, nothing was getting accomplished for several months so despite knowing he will get into trouble again, Takaki goes back to his own ways of doing things so that the project can be finished. No one would help him so as the pressure built up, he started to drink and smoke more. Eventually, he gets fed up of their team their team leader and goes to talk with the company chief to either remove himself from the team or, give the leader a good lecture. If the lecture doesn’t work then Takaki was going to quit his job on the spot. In the end, the team leader was assigned with other projects to handle and Takaki could work away but he became more separated from everyone.
- Takaki now spent more time with Risa and their time together became grew more precious. Every now and then, he would drop by the flower shop near his work place to buy a bouquet for her. He had to slip out of the office to buy them because the shop would always be closed by the time he finished work. Eventually they started to stay over at each other’s place, forgetting and leaving behind a few belongings such as Risa with her cooking utensils and toothbrush. However, Takaki stayed over at her place more than she did at his.
- They would meet once every week or fortnight at Risa’s place where she would be cooking in the background while Takaki would be working on his laptop. He no longer had to listen to the lonely sound of tapping any more as it mixed with the various sounds of cooking. It was a room filled with gentleness that made him feel at ease. He ended up with many memories of her such as her delicious cooking, the smell of her hair, the fragrance from her skin and how the taste of tobacco got transferred to her lips from his.
- One cold night while he was staying over, he gazed out of the window at the starry sky. Risa was fast asleep on his shoulder so they were quite comfortable and warm. As he heard a train travelling by, it sounded as if it was speaking in a foreign language. For some time now he had the feeling that he was living in another place. Perhaps it was even the place that he had always wanted to reach. With all the days he spent with Risa, he now understood how lonely he has been.
- That was why Takaki felt a great deal of stress when they finally had to go their separate ways. With three years of emotions on the line, they had tried desperately to build up their relationship. However, it couldn’t be helped. He knows that no one can be together forever and Man learns to become accustomed this fact through losses. It was the way he’s been living all this time.
- Takaki quit his job around the same time he broke up with Risa. Even though he wasn’t quite sure about it, perhaps the stress from work had something to do with it.
- In the last two years before he quit his job, his popularity in the company grew and he saved up a lot of money because there wasn’t anything he wanted to buy and technology was no longer exciting to him. He had less time to slip out of his work place and saw Risa less often. Their schedules meant they were busy at different times and it was two months since they had last met.
- When they saw each other again, they talked about what they wanted – to be back in school. It turns out neither of them knew. Takaki had just wanted to get through his life at the time but now, he wanted to find the place he belongs to, the real him. But where was he heading?
- During that little meeting, Risa had to go answer a call. When Takaki hears her happily talking to another guy, he suddenly felt himself welling up with jealousy. An image of that person running his fingers over Risa’s smooth white skin under her sweater floated to his mind. That moment, he really hated whoever was on the phone and Risa. Five minutes later, he soon finds out it was just one of her junior colleagues calling about work. Takaki continues to smoke to try and calm himself. What had gotten into him?
- The next day was a cold grey Sunday morning. The two hadn’t had breakfast together for a long time so they were enjoying the time together very much. Risa’s cooking was as delicious as always but as he watched her eat, he had the feeling this was also going to be the last time they ate together.
- Takaki had wanted to quit his job but the company chief wouldn’t let him because he didn’t have a good reason. He didn’t find his job tough and he wasn’t disatisfied about his work either. Eventually he decided to quit after his team project was finished at around January. Three months pass since that grey morning’s breakfast. They hadn’t seen each other since and had only been emailing once or twice every week. Everyday when he went home tired, he could feel the high rise buildings looming over him while on the train. He thought to himself he wasn’t used to Tokyo yet.
- One day in December, the almost two year long project was finally finished and it was time for him to pack up his things from work. As he got off the train, he was going to take a taxi home but changed his mind when he saw the queue. It was Friday night and it just happened to be Christmas day too.
- As he walked along the dark streets, his phone rang but he didn’t want to answer Risa’s call. He looked up into the starless sky as it began to snow and thought to himself, “It’s just those few words I want. Yet, why can’t anyone say them to me?” Although Takaki knew it was a selfish wish, the falling snow had opened a door that had been sealed deep within his heart. He now clearly understood that he wanted to hear the words Akari once said to him. “I’m sure you will be all right, Takaki-kun.”
- While packing up her things ready to move homes, Akari Shinohara found a letter inside one of the boxes that were lying around her room. It was a box full of things she kept from between primary and junior high school such as magazines and cassettes she recorded.
- The letter was something she stored away safely after she graduated from junior high. It was the first love letter that she wrote while she was waiting for Takaki that day at the station. As she held it, all her feelings from that time fifteen years ago came flooding back about how dear he was to her and how much she had missed him. After their first kiss, Akari decided not to hand him the letter because the whole world seemed to have suddenly changed. The engagement ring she had on her finger now was proof that fifteen years has gone by. That night, she dreamt she was standing under a tree with Takaki, silently gazing up together at the falling snow.
- The next day, she was off to the station. It’s been a long time since it snowed in Iwafune in December. It felt odd waiting for the train together with her two parents because they probably hadn’t done something like that since the day they moved to Iwafune. They looked like they had grown a lot older but that made sense. Akari was about to get married after all and it was time for her parents to retire. Being born and raised outside of her father’s home town Iwafune, Akari had always felt the town was a small, lonely place where she didn’t belong. The Tokyo where she spent primary four to six in felt more like her home.
- As Akari’s mother reminds her to call if anything happened, Akari smiles saying they will meet again soon at her wedding ceremony next month so they don’t have to worry. Suddenly, Iwafune and her parents were very dear to her.
- On the train where she was the only passenger, Akari couldn’t concentrate on reading her book. She looks out at the plain fields of Iwafune and imagined it was laid with snow with small lights flickering in the night. She wondered what kind of sight Takaki saw when had been waiting on that train, hungry and filled with the guilt of making someone wait for him. Akari was sure he must have wished she went home being the kind boy he was.
- Akari didn’t mind waiting for him no matter how many hours it took. She had no doubt he would come that day and had really missed him. If only her voice could have reached him, she would have said:
“Don’t worry. Your lover’s waiting for you. That girl knows you will come see her. You can relax. Think of the joy you will have when you two see each other again. It maybe the last time you meet but please, treasure that miraculous moment deep within your heart.“
- Surprised at how much she thought about Takaki, Akari smiled briefly. She had been thinking about him since yesterday and was sure it was because of that letter she found. She wondered if she was being a little unfaithful thinking about another person when she was going to get married soon. However, she was sure her future husband wouldn’t have minded. When he had learned he was being transferred to Tokyo to work, he took the chance to ask for Akari’s hand in marriage. Her future husband was someone who is always complaining about something but she loved him very much.
- On the other hand, those memories she had of Takaki was an important part of her now. Just like how the food you eat becomes a part of your flesh and blood, they were inseparable. As she gazed out the window at the passing scenery, she prayed Takaki was doing well.
- As Takaki turned on the lights in his apartment, he thought about how sadness accumulates in you as you live your life just like how dust accumulates in a room before you know it. Just about everything in his room reminded him of something sad such as his single toothbrush, his shirt he worked in and his mobile’s call history. It was probably a lot worst for Risa because he went over to her place a lot more.
- At the end of January, it was the last day Takaki would be working at the company he’s stayed at for the past five years. The staff wanted to have a farewell speech to mark his departure but, he declined their offer saying he wanted to spend the day working like he usually did. Even the team leader he used to work under came to apologise to him much to his surprise. They hadn’t spoken to each other for a year since he got assigned to other projects.
- That day, Takaki also received the last e-mail from Risa. It doesn’t say when he received it but, I’m presuming this was sent before the one shown in the movie. That e-mail was dated February while here, the story is flashing back to the end of January as mentioned above.Don’t ask me why Risa sent another e-mail a few days later because I don’t know. Maybe Shinkai decided to make a few changes here. Risa wrote:
I love you even now. I think I will always love you the way I do now. To me, you’re a kind wonderful person that I look up to even though you seem a little distant.
When I started to go out with you, for the first time I found out how easily the human heart can be taken over by another. I felt as if I was falling in love with you everyday. Every word you wrote in your e-mails made me happy or sad. I know you got jealous and troubled over many trivial matters. I’m sorry to say this but I think we’ve both gotten tired from it all.
About half a year ago, I wanted to tell you all this using various methods but no matter how, it never went well. I know you love me as much as you say you do. However, I think our ways of loving people maybe different. I could feel myself starting to suffer a little because of that difference.
- It was Takaki’s last trip home from his work place. He was in no real rush to find a new job. He didn’t know what he was doing or what he should be doing as he walked through the cold night. He could feel the cold air as if his thick coats had no effect. The buildings around loomed over him as if they were suddenly ancient structures.
- He thought to himself, was he foolish? Selfish? He must have hurt many people over the past ten years and have been lying to himself that none of it could be helped. Why can’t he sympathise with people? Why can’t his words get through to people? He found himself overflowed with feelings of regret. Words from the past started to come back to him, mixed together with the city’s sounds. Risa’s “I could feel myself starting to suffer a little because of that difference.” The student assistant girl’s “Is it over for us?” Kanae’s “Don’t be so nice to me.” and “Thank you.” And lastly, Akari’s “I’m sure you will be all right.”
- For the first time in the fifteen years he’s been passing through the stations, he cried. The tears flowed as if a giant ice berg inside him had just melted. He thought to himself, “Anyone. Why can’t I get close to anyone and find just a tiny bit of happiness?” He looked up at the two hundred metre tall buildings before him as the red lights blinked. Such salvation just doesn’t come that conveniently.
- Akari took the letter she wrote out of the tin box and read a little of it. Her handwriting hasn’t changed and she felt as if the letter was just written yesterday.
She puts it away thinking she’ll read it again some day when she is older. It was too early to read it all again. She’ll keep it safe and treasure it until then. The contents of the letter is as follows and the original Japanese script can be found on Wikipedia. Note that the Japanese often speak from a third person point of view which is why they refer to the person they’re talking to by name instead of “you”.
How are you?
When we made that date, we never foresaw how snowy it would be today, did we? It looks like the train is late. That’s why I’ve decided to write this while I’m waiting for you.
There is a stove in front of me so it’s warm here. As always, I keep some writing paper in my bag so that I can write my letters at any time. I’m thinking of handing this to you later. So don’t arrive too early or I will be very much troubled. Please don’t hurry, take your time coming here.
It’s been a long time since we last met. It’s been eleven months. That’s why I’m actually feeling a little nervous just now. What will we do if we don’t recognise each other when we meet? But this place is so small compared to Tokyo so I don’t think that could possibly happen. But no matter how much I try to imagine what you look like in school uniform or soccer clothes, you seem like a stranger to me.
Hmmm, what else should I write? Oh, I know. I will start by giving my thanks. I will write down the feelings I had for you that I couldn’t convey properly. When I transferred to Tokyo in primary four I was really glad you were there. I was happy we became friends. If you weren’t there, school would have been much harder for me.
That’s why I really didn’t want to transfer to another school and part with you. I wanted to attend the same junior high school with you and grow up together. It was always what I had wished for. I’ve gotten used to my school now (so please don’t worry too much about me) but everyday, I would think to myself many times, “How much better would it be if Takaki-kun was here?”
I’m very sad that you will soon be moving to a much distant place. Even though we’re separated in between Tokyo and Tochigi, I have always thought to myself that, “Takaki-kun is within my reach.” I could always have taken the train right away to go see you. But this time, going to the other side of Kyushu is a bit too far for me.
From now on, I will have to learn how to live on well by myself, even though I’m not confident that I can. But I have to. Both you and I have to.
There’s another thing that I must tell you. I’m writing this down in this letter just in case I can’t say it out to you.
I love you. I can’t remember when I fell in love with you but very naturally, I had fallen in love with you before I knew it. The first time I met you, you were a strong and kind boy. You always protected me.
Takaki-kun, I’m sure you will be all right. No matter what happens, I know you will grow up to be a fine kind adult. No matter how far you go, I will always love you.
Please, please remember that.
- Takaki dreamed he was writing a letter in a room filled with cardboard boxes. It was the letter that got blown away at the station but, he felt that he still had to have written it even if no one was ever going to lay eyes on it. The last page of his love letter wrote:
I don’t really know what it means to grow up. But one day, if I ever meet Akari again by coincidence, I want to have become someone that I’m not ashamed of being.
This I promise you, Akari.
I have always loved you.
Please take care. Farewell.
- It’s April and it was lunchtime by the time Takaki woke up because he had worked until late in the morning. The streets of Tokyo were filled with cherry blossoms and the sun was shining through windows. It’s been three months since he had quit his job. Just last week he started programming again. He managed to get some free lance jobs thanks to the connections he still had with his company. He didn’t know if he was going to continue being a freelance programmer in the future but wanted to make a start on something. He decides to take the day off having completed a fair amount of work over the past few days.
- As he went out for a walk, a mixed sense of time came back to him such as the early mornings he would set off to work planning ahead for the day, going home embraced kindly by the afternoon sun shining, the starry night skies and the days when the sky was filled with clouds. It was the feeling of how humans, nature and the city blended together.
- As he continued on his walk, he soon reached a large cherry blossom tree. He watched as the petals slowly fell to the ground and remembered how they fell at five centimetres per second.
- He walks on onto a crossing just as the warning bells began to ring as if marking the nostalgic time of Spring. He passes a girl at a crossing and at that moment, a light pranced in his heart. He stopped at the other side and thought strongly that if he turned around, she would be doing the same. Takaki turned round slowly and so did she. Their eyes meet. His heart and memories stirred just as the train rushed past along the Odakyu Line and cut off their line of sight.
- As the train continued to run by, Takaki wondered if she would still be there afterwards but, it didn’t matter. It would be enough of a miracle if it had really been “her”. After the train passed by, he makes up his mind that he will move on.
A very interesting read to say the least. The first two girlfriends Takaki had didn’t quite make an impression on me because the novel didn’t dwell on them for too long. Maybe just the second one who he met at the tutorial. It was a pretty surprising when I found out she was already going out with Takaki’s boss. It doesn’t say when Takaki found out but, I’m sure it was probably during the third month. The best impression I got was from Risa and I felt they could have got along very well into the future. Unfortunately, busy schedules meant they split up which was a pity.
When I read we find out about Kanae’s last words to Takaki at the airport, I thought I would find it in the last story I read, Cosmonaut but it turned out to be in here. Her actions don’t really change my thoughts because it just confirms that she is able to move on. I might not dislike Takaki as much, now that I know he regrets what he done but still, he knew exactly what was going on and didn’t try to cut off early. I guess that’s just the downside of being too nice.
You have to feel sorry for the guy though when none of his relationships work out and he cries in the night. From the movie, I had the impression that Akari was the very reason why he was so depressed and ended up the way he was but from the novel, it’s not entirely true. He picked up smoking and alcohol from building up contacts and just hanging out with friends. Then the pressure at work just got to him and he got burnt out.
However, at the bottom of his despair, we do still find him thinking back to Akari and her words of encouragement. When he cried, he said he wanted someone who could say the words he wanted to hear and basically understand him so his relation with Akari may have set some high standards with him.
In the end, it doesn’t say if that woman at the crossing was Akari or not but once again, I’m very certain it was. Otherwise Takaki wouldn’t have had those feelings and memories flooding back to him when their eyes met. Akari had also returned to Tokyo at the time. In any case, it’s good to find Takaki recovered and clearly decided he will move on. No more debating about what that smile meant now but, who knows what the future holds for him, hmmm?
Well, I guess the conclusion I arrived at before reading this novel was pretty much wrong and the guys over at the Animesuki forum (who didn’t do any analysis) were right about him moving on after the crossing scene. I had the impression that Takaki had moved on long before the ending scene because when he was typing those unsent e-mails on his mobile back in senior high, he initially wrote them for Akari. However, it soon became a sort of journal for him and he stopped that even after he graduated from high school. He was able to move on and find a new apartment which he kept much more tidy and clean. Before his walk during the season of cherry blossoms, he wasn’t sure about what he will do in the future but after he met Akari at the crossing, he decides it was time to move on again. That’s the impression I had.
On the whole, the novel was a very enlightening read. Especially the second and last story. I was surprised to find Akari actually wrote her love letter while she was waiting at the station. I never noticed that amongst the flashing images during the theme song until I read this. The novel has helped clear up many questions and although the general scenarios weren’t much happier, I think it helped make the ending that much better. There are moments where the movie proves to do a better job of conveying the character’s emotions but, I feel the novel does the greater job. In other words, as Makoto Shinkai mentions in the afterword, the two versions of the stories are good complements.
The greatest charm in 5 Centimetres per Second for me was perhaps watching Takaki start off as a little primary school boy who didn’t have much control over his life, all the way through until he was an adult. I think the viewer can relate to many of the situations shown and can also make the viewer think over about one’s own goal and experiences.
Were you or are you like the characters when they were in high school? The teacher hands out a self-evaluation sheet and starts sending students to the careers advisor and you find yourself not knowing what you’re going to do in the future? I remember a few of my classmates were like that. Do you “lose your way” sometimes like Takaki, not knowing what to do? If there was a lesson in the stories, I think it would be never miss out on opportunities. Whether you fail or not, you should learn from it and move on.
I’m sure I’ll be picking up the novel again sometime in the future. In the meantime, don’t forget you can read comparisons of the novelised versions of Oukashou and Cosmonaut too, as well as Shinkai’s other short story “The Sky Outside the Window“! I hope they’ve been an interesting read!