Author: Makoto Shinkai | Artist: Yukiko Seike | Page Count: 566
'I bet you must have changed a lot too. And bit by bit, you’ll keep on changing.'
The manga adaptation of Makoto Shinkai’s anime of the same name is the story of Takaki Tohno and his love for Akari Shinohara. The book is faithful to the themes and characters of the source, and in its own way is equally as heartbreaking, but there are also a number of differences. There’s more dialogue between the couple and a lot of new scenes have been added. Most of the additions don’t lead anywhere new but each in some way expands or accentuates both the closeness and the distance between the two individuals.
It’s split into three parts, each focussing on a specific period of Tohno’s life. The first and third eras are the most successful and satisfying. The middle section was the weakest in the anime. It was necessary to the story but it felt unfinished. It gets a lengthy epilogue at the book's end that attempts to redress that but overall it remains the weakest aspect.
I love how Shinkai can elicit opposing feelings simultaneously. There’s a scene that functions as a rekindling after a period of separation that also highlights differences and connotes the inevitable. That kind of subtlety is the foundation of the work and unless you pick up on it early on, you may get bored or even depressed with the inaction. Ultimately, its effectiveness will vary drastically from reader to reader; the idealistic young dreamer will interpret it differently than the hopeless romantic or the aged and injured recluse. The title is all important to the way that love can be perceived; it’ll make sense in context.
At its most basic level, the book is summed up on two pages, but those pages don’t come at the end because realisation is never an end; it’s another beginning.
3 dividing lines out of 5
Note: You can find spoiler-free, mini-reviews of some of Makoto Shinkai’s films, including 5 Centimeters per Second, at our sister site, In a Nutshell.