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What ‘5 Centimeters Per Second’ Teaches Us About Naive Bliss

Last updated on September 18, 2020

Remember, let’s be polite; let’s be respectful, but most of all, let’s be outspoken.

Every child is faced with internal naivety when growing up. When our parents ask us about the nature of our dreams and passions, we come up with a list of near-impossible tasks we wish to achieve. Many have the dream of stepping in the oval office, the aspiration of achieving world peace, the desire to have an unforgettable legacy, the common wish to be remarkable, and the underlying hope to change the world for the better.

However, as we grow older, we come to the inevitable realization that those dreams will remain just that, dreams. In all our desperate attempts to overcome obstacles, break boundaries, conquer limitations, we would hope to be the champion of our destiny, but in the end, we may not.

Over the weekend, I watched a show called “5 Centimeters Per Second.” It is a one-hour long animated Japanese series that consists of three episodes. I encourage everyone to watch it because it tackles the never-ending concept of love.

For those who do not mind spoilers, it is basically a story of a couple deeply in love with each other. However, due to circumstances, they are forced to move further apart and their love is challenged. They send text messages, write letters, and engage in conversations over the phone, but they knew their never yielding pursuit to be with each other was becoming futile.

The series ends with the two passing over a train track. For a split second, they were five centimeters apart. The main character realizes this and turns around to see her, but trains block his view of the other side. Once the train passes, she is gone.

The series is truly unique because of its realism. Countless romances have portrayed a couple enduring and fighting alongside each other to be together. The cliché of a couple riding off in the sunset and living happily ever after has been a formula for many successful movies.

Practically every Disney movie shows a happy ending where love is everlasting. Yet, this film captures the contrary. The ending is unexpected, dissatisfying, and realistic. When the final scene was shown, I did not understand how I felt.

I was consumed with melancholy and empty, yet I did not feel like crying. What I found to be tremendous was its ability to provoke the audience to think. It questions the idea of a happy ending and whether we can achieve it even through hard work and determination. 

I found the ending to be sad but also wholesome because after he sees no one is there, he smiles and walks away. Even though he still harbors affection and feelings towards her, he knows that he must move on. 

Just like my dreams of becoming a lawyer, I realized the pursuit and concept of love are not black and white. I say “Naive Bliss” because we all have that one moment of pontification where we want to change the status quo, that the world is our oyster, and nobody can stop us.

However, the ugly truth about life is it will move on after your death. While your beloved will mourn your death, they too will move on. To come to that realization forces you to form two conclusions about life. Either believe its meaningless or greater than the individual. “5 Centimeters Per Second” has a beautiful message because it shows the happy ending is plausible, not inevitable.

Remember, let’s be polite; let’s be respectful, but most of all, let’s be outspoken.

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