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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Review: 5 Centimeters Per Second

After the previous bout of extremely heavy going books, I needed a break. Amazon was selling 5 centimeters per second for $1, so I picked it up, not knowing that it was a Makoto Shinkai movie that was then adapted back into a graphic novel.

After the previous books I'd read, this felt like a whole novel about first world problems. The plot is that Takaki Tohno makes friend with a girl in elementary school. Their relationship develop, but one of them moves away. In a highly romantic scene, Tohno takes a series of long distance train to visit her before his family moves to a remote island in Japan accessible only by plane. That journey cements their relationship in his mind, and colors all his future relationships with women.

The novel comes with no deep insights, no quotable scenes, and way too many cliches about relationships. Maybe if you're a teenager living in a first world country the novel would be a reminder that you're not the only one out there who understands that pining away for a lost love is painful. (Not that there aren't enough pop songs covering that topic) I guess the moral of the story is that it's silly to do that. The novel does work better in a context of Asian culture, where much is made of that silent longing, and an antidote to that is needed.

The best thing about the novel is that it doesn't have a made-for-hollywood happy ending. If you read that as damning with faint praise, that just about sums it up for the comic.

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