The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Five Centimeters Per Second: Cosmonaut

Takaki is now in the third year of senior high in Tanegashima, where the Tanegashima Space Center is located. Kanae Sumida, a classmate of Takaki, had fallen in love with him ever since meeting him in middle school but has never had the courage to confess her feelings. She tries to spend time with him, waiting long after school for the chance to travel home together. However, Takaki appears ignorant to Kanae’s feelings and only treats her as a good friend. Kanae observes that Takaki is always writing emails to someone or staring off into the distance as if searching for something far away. It is later shown that Takaki’s emails are not being sent to anyone, and that he has had recurring dreams which feature Akari. After a failed attempt to tell Takaki she loves him, Kanae eventually realizes that he is looking for something far beyond what she can offer and decides not to, though she acknowledges that she will always love him.

  • Tanegashima is a small island south of Kyūshū. With a population of around 33900, the island is where Portuguese muskets were first introduce to Japan. Takaki moves after the events of the first act, and the island itself is incredibly beautiful, with rolling hills and a vast blue sky.

  • Kanae Sumida is the central character in act two. She has been in love with Takaki since he began attending her junior high, but cannot express her feelings to him. Kanae loves to surf and her older sister is a teacher at her high school.

  • I’ve included an exterior shot of the high school for the sole purpose of illustrating how beautiful the artwork is. All of these images are in 720p, scaled down to a width of 640 so it fits on the page.

  • Mopeds are common on Tanegashima: cars and buses are infrequent here, so most students sign up for a license to operate mopeds at around sixteen or so to get around quickly. This is equivalent to a Class VII Learner’s Permit, which is a prerequisite for obtaining the standard Class V Operator’s license. A Class VII is sufficient to operate a moped, although the individual must be accompanied by someone with a full Class V when operating a car.

  • Kanae exhibits unrequited love for Takaki: having fallen for him since the day they met, the novel shows that Kane finds his serious, composed demeanor and kindness appealing. Despite having known each other for five years, Kanae has yet to make her feelings for him

  • Kanae is essentially the opposite of Akari in terms of interests; whereas the former is more athletic and assertive, the latter is more intelligent and graceful. The two never meet during the course of the story.

  • Kanae feels that Takaki is really the centre of all her troubles and she doesn’t want to stay this way forever. She decides she’ll confess her love when she successfully manages to stand on her board again.

  • Kanae finds great difficulty in deciding on her post-secondary plans because of her feelings for Takaki. She feels that it’d be easiest if Takaki were to remain on the island. I remember filling these guys out at the end of high school: I had decided that I would pursue a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree. Having attained said degree now, I’m about to embark on the next step and see where that will take me: my training and skills confer familiarity with both software development and medicine.

  • As the world pushes closer together as a result of technology and globalisation, being multi-disciplinary becomes ever more important. Of course, this is the last thing on Kanae’s mind: here, she’s blushing because her friends hit the nail on the head about her feelings for Takaki. Once interactions between Kanae and Takaki are explored further, it becomes apparent that the two are as close as any couple.

  • Kanae typically surfs following classes. She picked up the hobby after being inspired by her sister, but despite having practised for half a year , she hasn’t managed to balance herself on the board once yet. Kanae envies how carefree her older sister is when the two discuss the former’s inability to surf.

  • Takaki was stated to have participated in many activities and was a studious student because he wished to forget about the pain of being separated from Akari.

  • Kanae adjusts her hair hastily before rushing to meet up with Takaki.

  • Sunsets represent the end of a day. Most are content to simply enjoy one, although physics provides an explaination for why sunsets appear the way they do: the change of sky colour at sunset (red nearest the sun, blue furthest away) is caused by Rayleigh scattering by atmospheric gas particles which are much smaller than the wavelengths of visible light. The grey/white colour of the clouds is caused by Mie scattering by water droplets which are of a comparable size to the wavelengths of visible light.

  • I’ve casually noticed that much of the first two acts happen in the rural areas of Japan; the Japanese country side is similar to the great prairies in some places, with the exception that the latter don’t have the ocean view.  On any given week, Kanae finds a handful of opportunities to travel with Takaki back home, although sometimes, their schedules didn’t overlap and they would only meet after class once every two weeks.

  • Upon meeting Takaki for the first time, Kanae finds herself falling in love. The notion of love at first sight is a common storytelling element, and some studies have found that this romantic attraction can be induced in as little as 0.13 seconds. I’m personally inclined to take a look at their figures more closely.

  • Kanae’s desire to be with Takaki is especially evident when she puts in her full effort to satisfy the entrance requirements for the high school Takaki is going to. On the other hand, being bound by no real obligations, I will travel wherever my applications are accepted. I would prefer to stay in my current city, though, for practical reasons.

  • After arriving on Tanegashina, Takaki did not frequent the local convenience store. This soon changes when he meets Kanae, and he opts to dairy coffee every time. I would like to direct the reader’s attention to the sheer amount of detail in this scene. While other anime make their environments clean and sterile, Five Centimeters per Second possesses such detail that it feels like reality does.

  • Kanae takes her time in choosing something, aiming to pick something that would make her look cuter for Takaki, but the latter is quite decisive and usually ends up waiting for Kanae after making his purchase, and because she wishes to remain with him, she typically grabs a yogurt so that she can hurry out.

  • While waiting for Kanae, Takaki is typing out a message to someone. She finds herself wishing that she was the recipient, also resolving to pay full attention to whoever she’s with such that he doesn’t worry about who she’s contacting. In the present day, I notice a great many of my colleagues and friends being distracted by their mobile devices. I make it a point to minimise use of my phone as much as possible while engaged in conversation, with exceptions made under certain circumstances.

  • I believe this is a real convenience store on the island of Tanegashima. When Makoto Shinkai said he wanted to go for realism, he was not kidding: every little detail is attended to, and I’ve heard that some inquisitive folks have indeed illustrated this store is real.

  • When I was filling out my future plans forms, it was a part of my TA component, which as assessed to ensure I had some idea of the future. Kanae is called to the advisory room after submitting an incomplete form: she was looking to stay on the island or move to Kantō (a district in Tokyo), but was uncertain which one because she wasn’t sure of Takaki’s plans.

  • Kanae wonders if  she could obtain happiness just by floating around in the water on her surfboard after another failed attempt.

  • On the same day, while returning home, Kanae’s moped begins to stutter. After spending some time at school, waiting for Takaki to show up, she heads home but encounters his bike on the grass.

  • Takaki tells Kanae that he’d missed her at the parking lot, and in spite of wondering whether he was being honest or not, her heart rate increases.

  • Kanae finds happiness in simply being with Takaki and listening to him talk about his worries, looking at him as he was staring out at the village lights. During the thick of my second year, I was told that life is worthwhile for all the subtle things, such as a lunch hour with friends or watching a sunset. I can appreciate why that is now: most of my friends have gone on their separate ways to pursue their futures.

  • I wonder if there’s a word that describes two people who are close enough to be considered a couple but aren’t formally dating or anything.

  • In the novel, Kanae’s thoughts show that her reason for making this paper airplane was born from the urge to thank someone for letting Takaki be in this world. The paper airplane is made from her questionnaire, symbolising her decision to play things by the ear and see where the currents take her.

  • The lone paper airplane is carried by the winds into a beautiful night sky: Kanae is always uncertain about her future, and her act of making a paper airplane out of her career survey is a prime example of her character.

  • The National Space Development Agency of Japan, or NASDA, was a Japanese national space agency established on October 1, 1969 under the National Space Development Agency Law only for peaceful purposes. NASDA merged with the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) and the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL) into one Independent Administrative Institution: the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on October 1, 2003.

  • The two are stopped at a railway crossing close to Kanae’s home by the train carrying the components to the rocket. Kanae mentions that the rocket travels at five kilometers per hour, evoking his memories where Akari told him about the speed at which Sakura blossoms fell.

  • Kanae plays with her puppy here, saying that despite her uncertainty about her future, the future will be a friendly one so as long as Takaki is there for her.

  • Takaki wonders how it must feel to be a space probe and travel untold distances without encountering as much as a single hydrogen molecule. Technically, that is not true, as deep space is not a true vacuum, but the journey is nonetheless very lonely. This analogy holds only partially for reality; while some paths to the future are more lonely than others, the initiative of hanging out with people is one’s own decision.

  • Takaki gets in the habit of sending messages to nobody; the text messages he is seen composing earlier is addressed to no one. Later, we find out that this was his way of expressing himself when things were looking dark. I personally play first person shooters and complain to people when things go south.

  • It’s hard to believe that Voices of a Distant Star was done entirely by Makoto Shinkai; even then, the movie is extremely well done. It is not surprising that when he has access to a full team of producers, artists, animators, and the like, the quality of the movie surpasses that of most of the anime I have in my library.

  • If there is a heaven, this would be what it’d look like: a hilly world of grass fields under an infinite blue sky. While not quite as pristine, there is a hill near my place. It’s about a 15 minute walk, and there’s a lone bench up there overlooking the northern reaches of the city.

  • After a talk with her sister, Kanae makes up her mind to play life ad libitum, one thing at a time, having drawn inspiration from Takaki’s words during the night, where he said he was also just doing what he could for the present and future.

  • Kanae expresses envy for her sister, whom she looks up to as a role model for being more mature and attractive.

  • As this photo realistic picture is located in the middle of my middle post, I will let readers in on a little secret; I contributed substantially to the TV Tropes Five Centimeters per Second page, elevating it from a poorly written passage to something that does Five Centimeters per Second proper justice. That page has remained reasonably untouched since my efforts, and in fact, the fact that most of my overhauls have been retained has allowed me to formally end my time on TV Tropes as an editor.

  • There’s something about being able to overcome adversity that makes everything worthwhile.This is the same feeling I got when I first learnt how to ride a bike, and subsequently, the same feeling I get every time I make a significant breakthrough in my research projects.

  • Kanae’s expression is of pure happiness at being able to surf. From personal experience, I constantly joke that a particular task, no matter how challenging, is always more straightforward than trying to ask someone out or confessing one’s feelings for another individual. I say that because with a challenge, everything rests solely on one person’s shoulders (and a bit of luck), whereas love requires two individuals to be realised.

  • Kanae’s elder sister watches on as the former finally succeeds in doing what she sought since the beginning of the act. When Kanae manages to stand up on the board, she feels as if it was the moment she had been waiting for in her seventeen years of life.

  • The second act is titled Cosmonaut, a Russian term equivalent to the Western Astronaut. This title presumably reflects on how forging into the future is similar to the kind of dedication and courage required by those who partake in space travel or are designing vessels to do thus.

  • After successfully standing up on her surf board, Kanae resolves to confess her feelings to Takaki, despite her uncertianity. Here, her friends clearly can see that she’s happy and asks if something happened between her and Takaki, to which she smiles.

  • Kanae’s emotions throughout the second act are similar to that of a sine curve: She is initially excited waiting in the shadows near the parking lot, but when Takaki spots her, her excitement turns to shame.

  • Kanae’s internal conflict stems from the fact that she is unable to tell Takaki that she loves him; she believes he is searching for things far greater than anything she can offer and eventually decides against telling him how she feels.

  • Kanae gets the impression that Takaki would reject her even if she hasn’t said anything, and decides against confessing for fear of rejection.

  • A long time ago, I showed this to one of my friends, and he wondered why Kanae was so hesitant. At the time, I supplied the counterargument that in some cases, we need to think things through before acting: what applies for choosing a job carries over to choosing someone to share the future with.

  • My old review said that crickets were present throughout most of Cosmonaut, chirp loudly in these scenes. Closer inspection suggests they are cicadas, and as they are present in Japan, their songs can be heard during the summer, especially in rural areas.

  • After her botched confession, Kanae feels that Takaki’s strides were more forceful, as if he was angry, even though his expression remained calm and contemplative. While the two continue to walk in silence, the novel reveals a storm of thoughts within Kanae’s mind.

  • As the thoughts start manifesting in her mind, Kanae’s sadness reaches its limits: she finds herself asking many questions: Why were they walking in silence together? Why is he so kind to me? Why do I love him so much? As this builds, she begins to cry.

  • Even the water looks realistic: yes, I included this screencap for the sole purpose of illustrating just how good the graphics in this anime are. Frostbite 3.0 has nothing on this.

  • As Kanae cries, suddenly, a calm sets over all of nature. In the distance, a rocket is launched from the Taneshigama Space Center. The roar of its engines and the exhaust trail it leaves behind cracks the sky.

  • Kanae had originally hoped to watch a rocket launch with Takaki under happier circumstances.

  • After the rocket launch, Kanae comes to the realisation that Takaki was longing for something in the distance well beyond her capacity to give him and that they couldn’t be together from here on out.

  • Takaki and Kanae wave goodbye after the evening of the latter’s failed confession. Takaki leaves the island not long after.

  • Takaki only chooses to tell Kanae about his return to Tokyo, and the two share one final conversation together. Kanae spends the entire conversation in tears, but manages a smile before Takaki sets off. After graduating, the manga depicts Kanae as having chosen a career in nursing, an excellent and respectable field.

  • I had longed to see Kanae’s fate, and the manga was able to answer that question. After saying goodbye to Kanae, Takaki realises that Kanae had feelings for him, and regretted not understanding that sooner. The manga depicts Kanae as having one other suitor, but she decides to visit Tokyo and meet with Takaki one last time before moving forward.

  • The future is uplifting and filled with possibility, but the night after the confession, Kanae Kanae cries loudly while curled up on her futon as she gazes at the moonlight streaming through the windows. At that point, she felt that she would always always love Takaki.

  • Five Centimeters per Second shows us that not all love is met with a happy ending as in other media, coming across as very pessimistic and cynical at times. Despite its brilliant execution and artwork, fans found themselves feeling a great deal of resentment for how Takaki and Kanae’s love never worked out, leaving both feeling melancholic. However, it is important to note that this is but a part of life: whether it be the novel or manga, depictions show us that they have moved on to some extent, and things can look up if one takes the initiative to make it so.

  • Despite our failures and successes, and everything in-between, the world continues going whether we like it or not. This forms the foundation for the final act of the movie.

Cosmonaut stands in stark contrast to Cherry Blossom Extract: whereas the latter was cold, snowy and desolate, the former is far more vibrant and warm. However, even under this accommodating atmosphere, unrequited love lies close by. The focus of this act is on Kanae’s feelings for Takaki and her inability to express said feelings, as well as Takaki’s own yearning for Akari. Despite the two having never met, Akari and Kanae are involved in an implicit love triangle, setting the stage for Kanae’s eventual realisation that Takaki never really thought of her as anything more than a friend. With its beautiful artwork, Cosmonaut is a superb chapter, illustrating what might happen if one waits too long to disclose their feelings. By this point in the story, communication technologies have slowly inched forward, with LCD cell phones becoming more commonplace. The gradual progress of technology is something that viewers tend to miss: the tools Takaki might have found useful did not exist when he needed them, perhaps subtly suggesting how love and yearning are guided by forces beyond one’s control.

One response to “Five Centimeters Per Second: Cosmonaut

  1. Ron January 3, 2015 at 02:02

    Thank you for this! Cosmonaut was my favorite act in the film.


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