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5 centimeters per second

I’m home sick. Have been sleeping much of the day, and watching a little anime. My husband was recently introduced to Shinkai Makoto’s Voices of a Distant Star, so over the past couple of days, he and I have been watching both that and his later film, 5 Centimeters Per Second, which for some reason is the one I have fallen for most deeply. I watched it again today, and I was again struck with such deep emotion, it was difficult not to just start all over again as soon as it had finished.
The following contains SPOILERS for 5 Centimeters Per Second/Byōsoku Go Senchimētoru)
What strikes me, again and again, is Takaki’s journey on the train, and how effectively his feelings are portrayed: his anticipation; his despair at losing the letter that he’d poured his heart into; his hope and hopelessness as he continues toward his destination, both hopeful and afraid that Akari might be waiting for him, despite the late hour. I am struck too by his shame over his cold response to Akari when she tearfully calls to tell him that she’s moving. And again by his sadness as he kisses her. In the english translation, he refers to the time that stretches before them as “unavoidable” and that really hit me. It is the perfect way to describe that kind of moment. Young people are always told to rejoice in the fact that they have so many years ahead of them, as though they could not possibly have reason to want to cling to one moment or to avoid the inevitable changes in store for them. The second and third chapters resonate deeply with me too (though the second is so sad to me, it hurts a bit to watch it), but it is the first I keep coming back to. It is Takaki’s journey on the train that stays with me constantly. I feel that I could watch this film over and over and it would never become tired to me.

I have said before, regarding other fiction that has captured me this powerfully, that if I could ever write something that made somebody feel that way, I would consider it the greatest accomplishment of my life. And on one hand, it seems like an impossible goal. Yet I can’t keep my eyes off it. I so deeply wish to create something that would affect someone that way. Is it simply longing for a connection with other people? What drives this kind of desire? I have known for a long time that I am the kind of person who requires a purpose in life–something to strive for in order to keep going–a strong need to feel that I have something unique to contribute to the world. What drives this? Is it simply ego, or is it a longing for connection? Both?

My own writing has stalled this week, due to illness and exhaustion, but now I feel again the fire to create. I am grateful that there is such inspiring fiction in the world to help push me forward when I am feeling weak.

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  1. The desire to affect is certainly an innate characteristic. Is it significant that many people (artists anyway) are tortured by that desire? You are not alone.

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