ANIME THEORY: A Dark Decoding of 5cm Per Second

Episode 1 Cherry Blossom [Oukashou]

Hey there people, welcome back to ANIME THEORY! After a long absence (you can blame my thesis for that), I’m finally back to interpreting anime, if only for a while. I still have a lot of stuff to do in college. To celebrate Ahotaku39’s second birthday, I’ve decided to re-watch a certain anime that brought me to tears every time I watch it. Yes, this time, I’m going to try to decode the anime sob-fest that is Makoto Shinkai’s 5cm Per Second.

But first of all, thanks to my good friend, Achilles, who told me his interpretation of the anime, which inspired me to do this.

The major issue with this anime movie is that it is an unfinished piece of work. Paradoxically, it being unfinished is what makes this anime so good. Why is it unfinished? Because it is. There is no ending. The anime is an almost perfect reiteration of life and its struggles, mostly love. Its realism is what gives it beauty.

It takes more than just once to truly understand this anime. I’ve watched it like five times (and have been left emotionally destroyed five times too) and I still don’t get a lot of the allegory the anime has to offer, like the rocket ship and that fucking train at the end. But, a sixth rerun (and another emotional breakdown because this movie’s fucking sad and relatable) and it hit me.

You ready?

Akari is dead. Both figuratively and literally.

She died, in Takaki’s point of view, just as they first third of the movie ended with that kiss under the sakura tree on a winter’s night. If you were to go to extremes, she started dying as soon as she moved and they got involved in a long-distance relationship. The second and third part of the anime shows us Sakaki’s healing process over the years as he comes to terms with the fact that Akari is fucking dead.

In the second part, Takaki is still in denial that he won’t ever meet Akari ever again. He gazes off into the distance all the time, sends emails to nobody, and has dreams about Akari. The obvious is that he misses Akari and is desperately trying to get over her.

In the third part, Akari’s spectre continues to haunt him, leading him to depression in his adult life. Then, we get a couple of shots showing Akari with another man, being happy. Akari has long ditched the idea of ever being together with Takaki and is now happy with someone else. At the end, we get to that — goddammit stop crying, man — that fucking train scene. Takaki swears that he saw Akari, but that train, that goddamn train, lingers around just long enough for her to get away. Knowing that Akari is still safe and sound, Takaki feels relieved and has the strength to finally move on and give up on Akari. To strengthen this, in the manga version, a loli version of Akari shows up and bids farewell to Takaki. That loli Akari is a symbol of Sakaki’s past and it bidding goodbye signals that Takaki had moved on from Akari.


Now, what if I told you a darker interpretation?

Akari was already dead in the second part. The dreams Takaki sees are just figments of his imagination, or if you would, Akari haunting him. Same goes with him staring off into the distance and sending emails to nobody. At this time, Takaki still thinks that Akari is alive somewhere, but too busy to indulge him.

It all comes together in the final act. Takaki must have, at some time, knew of Akari’s death. For the sake of drama, let’s just say she killed herself because she couldn’t be with Takaki. Her suicide caused him to fall into depression. Remember that he continues to work and work to get his minds off things. Oh, all of those scenes depicting Akari with another man? All figments of his imagination. He wanted to believe Akari was still alive out there. The real kicker is that goddamn train. All he saw was a random woman who happened to look like Akari. As the train passed, the woman was gone. I’ll assume that that was Akari in spirit form, saying her final goodbye to Takaki. Takaki, being the unlucky bastard he is, missed that all because of a motherfucking train.

If you still don’t believe me, try reading the lyrics to the song “One More Time, One More Chance”, or as I like to call it, “the Itsudemo song”. I’ll paste one verse here, if you’re that lazy (source):

itsudemo sagashiteiruyo dokka ni kimi no sugata wo
mukai no HOOMU rojiura no mado
konna toko ni iru hazu mo nai noni
negai wa moshimo kanau nara imasugu kimi no moto e
dekinai koto wa mou nani mo nai
subete kakete dakishimete miseru yo


I am always searching somewhere for you
Opposite of the house, the other side of the alley’s window
Even though I know you won’t be here
If my wish is to be granted, please bring me to you right now
Betting and embracing everything
To show you there’s nothing else I can do

Notice that the line “itsudemo sagashiteiru yo” is repeated six times throughout the entire song. The song basically tells us the plot of the story in a nutshell: the boy searches far and wide for something that he can’t get. So, Takaki is basically searching for something that he can’t get or meet, that is, Akari. Even though he looks through every nook and cranny, he can’t ever find Akari. Why? Because she is fucking dead.

And so this ends my interpretation of Makoto Shinkai’s sob-fest that is 5cm Per Second. But, it’s just a theory, though. An ANIME THEORY! Hope you enjoyed this post and hopefully when I’m done with this crapload of work, I’ll be back to writing more serious ANIME THEORIES like the philosophy of Tokyo Ghoul or Psycho-Pass. Until then, I’ll be retreating into my dark hole. Bye!


2 thoughts on “ANIME THEORY: A Dark Decoding of 5cm Per Second

  1. I see your theory as a very solid one, but what about the scene where Akari was talking to her parents?

    The theory I thought is that Takaki admits he can no longer stand more sadness and he gets to the bottom, he realises that is empty and with no feelings inside (sight!). He quit his job, he is depressed as hell and he realises that he would never be with Akari. What other reason to be alive? 😥 so he decided to commit suicide.

    I don´t know! This is a beautiful sad movie, but full of reality.


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