A few years ago, I stumbled across this photo…
The colours, the mood and the art captivated me in an instant and I fell in love with it. The two characters at the focus of the picture were even more adorable. It was only when I searched for pictures to accompany this review that I found it again and discovered that it was an illustration of the characters from 5cm per Second.
This manga is another single slice of life story but although the art is quite shojo, this is one of those stories that readers of all ages can enjoy but I wouldn’t recommend this to readers under the age of fourteen due to the intricacies of the relationships of the characters and the themes underlying the plot. The book is quite thick, a little over 450 pages and pretty depressing to read once you connect with the characters. The story revolves around Takaki Tohno and Akari Shinohara but later focuses on Takaki as he tries to reconcile the loss of his childhood best friend and the regrets of his past.
Around Takaki’s high school years, we see less and less of Akari and were introduced Kanae Sumida, a classmate of Takaki’s. She is in love with him just as Takaki was in love with Akari however, she musters up the courage to confess to Takaki before he moves away and this becomes her saving grave. Although she is unable to forget her feelings for Takaki, she can move forward with no regrets.
Originally I planned to rate the story lower as the story’s pace slowed about two-thirds into the book, around the time Takaki becomes an adult and finds a job. However, while following Takaki through his mundane daily life and confined perspective, I felt what he felt, the hours, minutes and seconds that seem to drag on for eternity when you’re unsatisfied with where life has taken you and you’re restless for change. It isn’t until until the very, very end that Takaki finds a balance of bittersweet emotions ranging from love, loss and hope. When he returns to his hometown and walks down the path from school to home that he once shared with Akari, he reminisces of his memories under the quiet fall of the cherry blossoms. The ending gives way to open interpretation. You could say that the story finishes Takaki’s redemption and perhaps it’s enough. Now that Takaki’s reconciled with his past, he can move forward and his world is filled with endless possibilities.
I realized that most of my review focused on Takaki’s development as a character but we do get to see snippets and small interludes of Kanae (after high school), as a contrast to Takaki. They almost foil each other. One lives with regret of secret love while the other one lives with the nostalgia of unrequited love. I rather like Kanae as a character, though I would have liked to see Takaki bump into Akari again in his adult life. Unfortunately, life doesn’t create happy accidents like that and we just have to make do with what we have.
The story as a whole encourages readers like us to reflect on our own lives, actions undone and words unsaid, all left in the black and white moments of our fading pasts. With this sentiment in mind, it’s hard to dislike the characters that undergo all too realistic events, events that all of us can relate to.
Hope you guys liked this review. Sorry for all the dark and depressing slice of life manga lately. I’m going to change it up for the next few reviews and bring back some comedy! I try to post new content every day and I know I promised Karneval reviews… those are coming too, I promise! I’ve just been really busy moving into my new house this weekend. Thank you so much for reading and I’ll talk to you guys soon!
What are you pondering today?