5 Centimeters Per Second Collector’s Edition Review

Like many of Makoto Shinkai’s films, 5 Centimeters Per Second has been treated to a rich variety of additional media and adaptations, including a light novel. Today I’m here to take a look at the new rerelease of the manga adaptation to find out if it’s a must-read for fans of the film. 

The story follows protagonist Takaki Tono whom we first encounter during his elementary school days. Due to his family moving frequently for work, Takaki has always struggled to settle down and make friends. That is, until he meets Akari Shinohara who just transferred into his class. Akari’s family also moves around a lot for work, so it’s not long before she and Takaki bond over their similar situations.  

Neither of them makes friends with their classmates, but they’re not unhappy as they spend their time in the library and walking home together, day after day. Slowly but surely, they’re falling in love and can’t imagine not being by one another’s side. However, it’s not long before they find themselves separated as Akari’s family has to move yet again. Takaki reasons that it’s not an impossible distance and they can still send letters (emails and smartphones are not everyday things yet), which they do for a while. 

Unfortunately, Takaki’s family soon has to leave Tokyo behind and move to a remote island due to work. With that in mind, Takaki decides to take a trip to see Akari for the first and last time since she moved away. Despite the two continuing to write to each other, there’s so much left unsaid in the days and weeks between their letters getting through. This face-to-face meeting allows them to finally express everything that’s gone unsaid, but knowing it’s likely to be their last opportunity, they find it hard to bridge the gap between them. This is goodbye, despite the fact neither of them want to acknowledge it. 

From here the story continues to follow Takaki in his new everyday life on the island of Tanegashima. Here we swap perspectives to a new character – Kana. She’s in Takaki’s class and has a crush on him. Kana feels that Takaki is distant and often looking to someplace far away, far out of her reach. And maybe it’s that aloof nature that draws her to him or perhaps the fact he’s from Tokyo, a city she knows nothing about and can’t even imagine compared to her quiet home here in Tanegashima. 

Unfortunately for Kana, Takaki has no romantic interest in her. He’s haunted by the loss of Akari, having realised he was in love with her, and feels hopeless in the face of the distance between them. Their letters are exchanged less frequently and contain nothing of personal significance. Now in high school with a cellphone, Takaki has a habit of writing texts that he never sends. Still, although he acknowledges Kana as a friend, he hesitates over setting her straight which may cause more problems in the long run. 

5 Centimeters Per Second is a story about first love, growing apart and growing up. Not just for our protagonist Takaki but also for the girls he’s been lucky enough to share these portions of his life with. Here in the manga adaptation of Shinkai’s popular film, the first two stories play out more or less the same as the original but it’s when we reach the third act that the story changes significantly. Readers may remember that this last portion where Takaki is an adult living in Tokyo was relatively short in the original, but mangaka Yukiko Seike has been given full permission to do what they want with the manga (as they reveal in the afterword) and chose to fill in the blanks. 

Frankly, this last portion is what makes the manga version of this story the best version of it. Takaki comes off as quite unlikeable in the original movie and in the later spin-off light novel, but here we aren’t treated to his inner monologues quite as much and there’s more emphasis on the female cast and their lives. This prevents Takaki from souring the work for readers and I think makes it a better story on the whole since there’s more going on. The girls we meet have romantic feelings for Takaki in common, but otherwise, they have plenty of problems of their own to work through. And those are interesting to watch play out. This last portion of the book also gives each of the characters an epilogue of sorts, so there’s more closure for everyone involved which I always felt was missing from the original. 

I think Yukiko Seike has done a good job of capturing Shinkai’s film, and despite this being what appears to be their first published manga, I think they’ve done a good job of capturing Shinkai’s film. The character designs feel a little dated now (but so does the film, it has to be said), but the mangaka does an excellent job of drawing backgrounds and engrossing panels showing off the environment our cast is in at any given moment. I do find that panels can sometimes be too small and overwhelmed by the dialogue, but that doesn’t happen too often and these wordy pages are few and far between as Seike often opts to show us a montage of events rather than the cast conversing. This fits Takaki’s aloof personality and reflects Shinkai’s way of storytelling through visuals rather than words, too. 

5 Centimeters Per Second comes to the West thanks to Kodansha via their Vertical imprint. This manga was previously published by Vertical as a paperback in 2012 and that version is still readily available. This new collector’s edition is a hardback and includes an afterword from Yukiko Seike and new cover art, but is otherwise the same as the previous release. Both versions include colour pages and are translated well by Melissa Tanaka. 

Much like Kodansha’s recent rerelease for A Girl on the Shorethis doesn’t add anything if you own the previous edition. It’s also significantly more expensive than the paperback (£28.99 vs £16.99) if you are looking to pick it up anew. I was also slightly disappointed to find that Kodansha has covered the back cover with excerpts from positive reviews of the manga, which is great but leaves almost no room for a synopsis! This one assumes you already know what 5 Centimeters Per Second is about before purchasing, which will put off people randomly picking it up in a store. 

Overall, 5 Centimeters Per Second’s manga still proves the best way to experience this storyline as it builds upon Makoto Shinkai’s solid foundation and adds some much-needed closure for the cast. As far as the collector’s edition goes, there’s no reason to buy this over the existing paperback unless you really want a hardback. 

Our review copy from Kodansha was supplied by Turnaround Comics (Turnaround Publisher Services).

8 / 10


When she's not watching anime, reading manga or reviewing, Demelza can generally be found exploring some kind of fantasy world and chasing her dreams of being a hero.

More posts from Demelza...