Did You Know: There is a MANGA for 5 Centimeters Per Second?
I’m a huge fan of the film 5 Centimeters Per Second. In fact, it’s my #1 favorite anime film (if not favorite film, period). Everything about it was beautiful to me, from the art and the music to the storyline and its style of presentation. It was perfect, and it’s given me more to ponder over than probably any other movie has.
So it was an extremely pleasant surprise when I saw there was a manga adaptation of the story sitting in the bookstore. Flipping through it quickly revealed that this was going to be worth buying. And I’m glad to say this manga is not just a rehash of the film, and actually manages to stand on its own as an excellent story.
For those who don’t know, 5 Centimeters Per Second is essentially a love story where the central conflict is the simple sad fact that circumstances can separate people from one another, and the slow passage of time will gradually deaden and/or cheapen the deep feelings they may have for each other. Our lives fill up with tasks to complete, things to deal with, stuff to think about–very little of it actually matters, but that’s just how daily life works. Distance and time work against us in a way that makes us our own worst enemies.
The artist for this manga does an excellent job capturing the same sorts of feelings the film did so well to present. Everything is plainer of course since it’s black and white, but in a way this makes the characters’ expressions stand out a bit more. As a manga, the story allows the reader to focus on specific moments longer, and the artist’s ability to make a scene linger for a bit is effective in encouraging this more pensive reading style. Many pages have multiple panels all focusing on a character or nature scene all from the same angle, but with slight variations (e.g. the character’s expression changes slightly). The level of detail for all of this is top-notch, and though there may not be a lot going on for many pages, I still found myself taking my time with this book. It wasn’t something I wanted to breeze through.
The story of 5 Centimeters Per Second is the same as that of the anime film, but it plays out a little differently. While the film is a slightly anachronistic series of artistic montages and quiet vignettes strung together with brief bits of narration, the manga is relatively straightforward and a lot more detailed. There’s much more interaction between all the characters, and we really get into their heads a lot more. There are many extra scenes that aren’t in the film, which help flesh the characters out more, providing more backstory for some of them and some extra epilogue material for others. Everything plays out in chronological order, and there are a few extra plot developments that really add more to the themes of the story that weren’t delved into as much as the film.
Essentially, the manga simply adapted the story in a way that worked much better for the new medium it was working with. What the anime did was perfect for its purposes as a film, while the manga’s approach was what needed to be done to be effective in its new graphic novel format. All eleven chapters of the manga are included in one large volume for the English version, and its a very quality release. I strongly recommend checking this out, especially if you enjoyed the film. But even if you haven’t–still give it a look!