The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

An open letter for April on Five Centimeters per Second: a short reflection on unrequited love

“Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.” —Washington Irving

I just realised that the post’s title is quite lengthy, but it conveys exactly what this post is going to be about. It’s almost been eight months since I received this comment at my old website; back in August 2014, I discovered in my inbox what was the most moving comment I’ve received about some of the anime I’d written about. At the time, I was not sure I would be able to respond properly; Webs.com isn’t exactly the world’s best platform for starting a conversation, and my heart was still feeling the burn from something that’d happened a mere four months earlier. However, the passage of time has allowed me sleep on things, go back, and provide a proper response for this comment, which I found to be very sincere and optimistic.

Hi! (^_^)

I just want to thank you.. Thanks much from the bottom of my heart. Your article about 5 cm per seconds really moved me especially now that I am feeling this way again. You are such a great writer and I bet, a very nice and sentimental guy as well just like Takaki. I can see it from the way you write. Just like you, I really love the movie.. It’s may favorite anime movie, perhaps for the reason that I can relate so much to the characters especially to Takaki and Kanae. Just to share, for the past six years, I’ve been trying to forget and let go of my first love just like Takaki but I never really had the chance to clearly express my feelings for him just like Kanae… Again, thank you and I really hope that you’ll meet the woman who is meant for you very soon (cause you’ve said that people are wondering why you´re still single up to the point of pressuring you … hehe! I understand the feeling.)

Truly, God bless and take care always!

APRIL (^_^)

  • Why an open letter? I feel that this is something that merits sharing; it gives my blog a more human side, that there’s a person writing out these reviews and articles, and that this person most definitely is not a machine.

April, I would like to first thank you for taking the time to comment on the Five Centimeters per Second article and for sharing your story. I also apologise for taking as long as I did to provide a suitable reply.

In perhaps a rather unfriendly twist of irony, after I rewrote the Five Centimeters per Second post for my blog, I experienced for myself the sort of feelings and emotions that Takaki had experienced. In this open letter, I will also share my story, which begins nearly three years ago, and while most of the details are lost to time, I recall that there had been someone who’d I grown closer to. At the time, I was preparing for an MCAT, and the exam’s daunting nature had in part been tempered because of this friendship; she’d been taking summer courses at the time, and through our conversations with one another, the pressure of our endeavours seemed to be alleviated. That summer came and went, and I entered the final year of my undergraduate program: I never considered expressing my feelings to her at the time because I had an honours thesis to defend and I so, I resolved to do so during the summer. Fate is curious, though; she was set to go on an exchange program, and asked me to ask again when she’d returned. That moment never came, and presently, a year has passed since the day when I understood the reality. Dealing with unrequited love is remarkably unpleasant, and although the literature maintains that it’s a noble thing, there is no escaping the fact that it is painful.

Now that a year has passed, I like to think that I’ve moved forward, and learnt a few things from this experience. It’s more than okay to allow the recovery process to take as long as one needs, whether it’s a week, month or year. With this being said, these feelings of melancholy or despair should not be allowed to overcome everything else; for this reason, the best remedy for that is simply to continue learning and doing new things so that we can continue to matter to people even when it looks like we might not matter to a person. Thus, even though losing someone I never really had is difficult, the attendant despair is not something that’s impossible to overcome. For the present, I’ve merely resolved to continue doing all of the things that I typically do, and allow fate to work its magic; granted, it’s possible to tip the odds, but with my friends and colleagues entering relationships or even marrying, I find that there’s still quite a bit I’d like to do as a single person before committing to a relationship. Tying in with your story, I can say that it’s important to understand why we feel the way we do about the people around us, but, love is one of those things that chance and luck seem to play a great part in, being something that just happens. Consequently, I’m quite certain that you’ll be able to meet the person just for you, as well.

Truth be told, while my Five Centimeters per Second articles are dated, the timeless, ethereal nature of love means that its contents still hold, and the film still moves me deeply because it’s something I can relate to. There’s the additional bonus that whenever I watch Five Centimeters per Second now, I am looking into a mirror: my path looks to be leading me to the same discipline that Takaki is working in. As such, Five Centimeters per Second becomes very personal a movie, but unlike Takaki, who the novels describe as allowing himself to be swept up by the currents, I (or at least, I like to) think that I play a more active role in determining my own future for the most part. Again, thank you for taking the time to respond to my Five Centimeters per Second article, and I wish you the best on your endeavours.

Cheers,

The Infinite Zenith

  • There will come a day when I will focus my efforts into creating a meaningful relationship with someone, but for now, I’ll take things one step at a time and focus inwards first, capitalising on the degree of freedom I’ve presently got. The way I see it, one could lament being single, and then be miserable, or they could look for new avenues to explore, and then, even if they’re still single afterwards, at least they’ve explored said new avenues and have another meaningful experience for the books.

9 responses to “An open letter for April on Five Centimeters per Second: a short reflection on unrequited love

  1. cloudst12 August 12, 2017 at 07:30

    I decided to write a longer comment this time, a sort of letter because this hits so close to home. So, sorry in advance that I could not reply on the day itself (i.e. on the day of the MCAT article), it’s just, I needed to recollect my own experiences and perhaps, reflect on my own life.

    I took A-levels in college in 2014, which feels like an eternity ago. Looking back, those days in college were the best in my life.

    I remember one day I was walking around college and I saw a sign on a door. “Prayer meeting”. Now, before this, I wasn’t really a “religious” person per say but in my heart, I thought to myself, “Sure, why not?”. I went in. And met a girl and some others. I didn’t fall in love then.

    But one day, we had a class where we had to present something – something about animal rights if I’m not mistaken. And that girl gave me the brightest smile I’d ever seen. I was smitten.

    Cue many days of trying to spend time with the girl. Problem was, she was difficult to find, even by her other friends. She takes 3 working days to answer a text if you’re lucky, and no, she doesn’t do that to only me. I called her a ninja because she was difficult to find. That was 2014. (There’s a little bit more to the story here but I think the best way to describe it was, I was too shy, and too late)

    2015. Now, I’ve glossed over a lot of things but during this time I had this fear in my heart. This fear of losing her. Of losing the only girl who truly ever took me for who I was. I confessed to her – I still have the letter somewhere. I was gently rejected. If you read my blog, you’ll probably find some stories that correspond to that time.

    If anything, I went into a weird selfless love. To love despite not being loved. Unrequited love. We texted each other. She’d take about a week or a month to reply. I did selfish things like buy or make presents for her for Christmas even though I knew it would complicate things.

    If you’re curious what one present was: https://starstreak-seeker.deviantart.com/art/Dango-Plush-Tutorial-353939180

    There were moments where I had been angry about the whole thing going nowhere. One moment where I wanted to shut her out of my life and let my life be grayscale for it. Perhaps I am exaggerating. But I know I am not exaggerating when I say that it was faith in Christ that brought me to reconcile with her after an argument we had.

    But after that anger and the pain, I found that reconciliation, that is – staying as friends, made things less painful in the end. I am blessed in that she was willing to stay friends with me and that we could start again with less baggage.

    I don’t think much has changed since then. We’re still friends who message each other every other month or so. Meanwhile, everything else has changed. I think back on those kind days and sometimes, think what if I had tried harder to be with her. Then, I realize.

    That I’ve moved on in some way.

    I admit I still get heartaches once in awhile, though nowhere near as often as it used to be. I also freely admit that I don’t know if I will eventually end up with her or I will end up with someone else. But by not having expectations, I feel I’ve been able to focus on other things just like you have.

    It’s funny how similar things tend to turn out…. And how girls are so difficult to understand. And us guys, too shy when we meet the ‘right’ one. But I believe that things happen for a reason.

    But you know, I agree with APRIL, I’m sure you will find the ‘right girl’ someday soon. It’s just maybe, we’re similar in that we have pretty high standards, and only one girl has ever fulfilled those standards.

    If anything changes in the future, I’d probably hint at it. I don’t think I’ve ever shared my story with you before but I believe that by sharing our experiences, we sort of learn from each other’s experiences and so, grow a little.

    All in our journey of life.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers,

    Cloudst12

    Liked by 1 person

    • infinitezenith August 12, 2017 at 22:38

      After reading your experiences in further detail, I find myself moved. These things affect everyone differently, and it is very meaningful to share these stories; for one, it’s nice to know that we’re not alone in walking the paths that we did. I wrote this a year to the day when things happened, and while the course of events leading up were different, the outcomes were very similar. With this in mind, my friends suggested that I stand down and make some distance; in the following year, I contacted the individual in question once, and that was about it. Not thinking about what could have been, and living my own life as best as I could was what I ended up doing, leading things to today.

      With the passage of time, I now see these as a learning experience, something I’m comfortable mentioning and joking about to friends and family alike: we may enjoy reminiscing about happy memories, but I also think it’s important to take a look at the things that are less pleasant and acknowledge them to some capacity. Granted, if we could figure out members of the opposite sex as readily as we do a recipe, there would not be so much fiction on love or love songs about heartbreak! These experiences are an integral part of us, and while painful, I definitely do not regret what happened in retrospect. I am immensely grateful you’ve taken the time to share your experiences, and hearing these things, as well as how you’ve worked towards the future leaves me with a sense of optimism. Whatever lies in store in the future, let’s get it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Traditional Catholic Weeb June 24, 2021 at 16:39

    As I’m writing this comment I’m currently fighting an unrequited love myself, and can’t help to think that my life has become like Takaki’s from “5 Centimeters Per Second”. Even funnier was that I watched this film only recently – about 7 months back, and it was the first anime film I reviewed this year. In fact our circumstances were quite similar to each other, not to mention the way our professional careers wound up.

    To put into context, I met this cute Viet girl (I’ll call her K) in the eighth grade (she was in seventh grade at the time) and my first interaction with her was an argument over how bad our dodgeball team was in gym class. Fast forward to 30 September 2009 at around 3:00pm. I was assigned to stack classroom chairs and out of nowhere I saw her in gym clothes helping me out stack chairs. Call me pathetic but as soon as I saw her kind gesture I vowed that she’d be the girl I’d marry and have kids with.

    We ended up becoming good friends throughout the year, walking home from school often together and occasionally making jokes with each other during class. She knew that I had a fling for her but told me due to her parents’ insistence she had no interest in dating me, but that didn’t stop her from being friends with me. I graduated middle school and she told me that she enjoyed our time together, and was happy that I made her smile. It would be a few years before she joined the same high school as me.

    Unfortunately during that time I went for another girl who turned out to be a rotten person, by acting as friends at first but only to lead me on later. In retrospect it was dumb of me to try and chase after her despite the signals but I was so desperate for a girlfriend at the time, my reason was practically blocked out. This went on for 3.5/4 of my high school years. I still ran into K in the hallways, who greeted me with a loud and friendly “Hello!” when we ran into each other, and occasionally we chatted. Near the end of my senior year – approximately at 5 May 2014 – I fell in love with her again. I felt so stupid that I ignored these feelings all that time, that I began to try and repatch what was lost. I ended up confessing to her via a poem the following month. She told me, and I remember the words clearly and where it was, that “I’m really flattered. But I don’t feel the same way for you.”

    7 years have passed on since this event. I still see her from time to time but we don’t talk as much as we used to. I hoped that maybe after all this time we could hang out again and maybe she’ll notice how better of a person I was than when we first met, and fulfill a romance from there. So, about a month ago I asked if she wanted to hang out sometime soon; she told me she got a boyfriend. Suffice to say I was skeptical about her comment; but by that I was (and still am) disbelievably heartbroken and I’m still asking God to help me get over this pain and self-hatred, how foolish I was to just let her slip by my fingers due to my own ignorance.

    I guess this is the best way to sum everything up: “I watched as my life went from an arbitrary slice of life anime to ‘5 Centimeters Per Second’ within a few seconds. I never thought I’d see that day come.”

    Like

    • infinitezenith June 27, 2021 at 21:29

      Firstly, thank you for taking the time to share your story! In a curious coincidence, I’m also a software developer, same as yourself and Takaki. My thoughts on Five Centimetres per Second has changed over the years, and I don’t really view it as a story of unrequited love now, as I did back when I first saw the film. This is in part thanks to picking up a side novel Makoto Shinkai had written, and this left me feeling considerably happier about what the film was intended to achieve: as an adult, Takaki was feeling lost about his work, and finds new fulfilment when he becomes a freelance developer. Throughout his life, Takaki’s melancholy came from lacking control over his life, so when he is able to gain that agency, he finally feels that he can go where he wishes.

      With this in mind, unrequited love and the attendant heartbreak is all too common – there are striking parallels in all of the stories, a fateful meeting that causes our hearts to flutter. Reading back through the old letter and your story, I think I will append what happened subsequently; when my crush (I think that’s the word) was in Japan, she ended up falling for her homestay host. In the months following, my social media feed was flooded with their joyous moments spent together. At one of my friend’s suggestion, I ended up muting all communications, and subsequently channeled all of the pain and anger into something else: a community science communications performance about the brain. My love life has since been nil, as finding a meaningful connection is tricky, and while the loneliness can be physically tangible at times, I try to focus on other things to ward off those feelings.

      In the end, unrequited love is no one’s fault – like thunderstorms, it just happens. I wish it were simpler to create connections that count, but things are what they are. As it stands, I feel like the opportunity will present itself again, and with the learnings from before, you’ll certainly be better equipped to give things another go 🙂

      Like

      • Traditional Catholic Weeb June 28, 2021 at 20:07

        Thanks for acknowledging 😅

        Likewise too for sharing as well what happened between you and your crush. That being said… turns out an update is in order too on my end as well! I met my crush last weekend at the store where she works and I finally was able to get closure with her. While I’ve come to accept that she really does have the bf, and moved out of to live with him, and while it stings still I’ve just accepted the truth that she and I *may* never become the big happy family I envisioned in the head. I’ll probably do the same as you did – not run into her for a while, hide any mementos I have of her, and just as you channeled the sadness to something productive, I’ll just drown myself in more extra-office-hours software programming work, planning for future anime convention dankness, or watching hockey playoff telecasts. I find they are somewhat efficient in temporarily numbing the pain.

        Maybe one day, someday soon, I’ll find another person but as it stands now I doubt I’m in a good position to love someone else as much as I did love her. (I don’t think it was a true infatuation. Given I’ve talked with her plenty during youth, and befriended her)

        Like

        • infinitezenith July 4, 2021 at 19:24

          Time and space is wonderful to help gain perspective. Having been there, I can say with confidence your feelings were very much real, so don’t diminish them at all! The future tends to catch us off-guard, and we find things when we least expect them. In the meantime, it’s good to meet another hockey fan 🙂 This last season’s been a bit of a disappointment (I’m no fan of Tampa Bay), but every season brings with new hope that my team might actually get some good offense going and perhaps make the playoffs. If you don’t mind my asking, which is your favourite team?

          Like

          • Traditional Catholic Weeb July 4, 2021 at 22:43

            The Chicago Blackhawks are my team, though they’re very decimated with Jonathan Toews’ absence and the honky-tonky young core they have rn 😅 Hbu?

            Like

            • infinitezenith July 8, 2021 at 20:03

              I’ve been a Flames fan since the Iginla days! The team’s been ailing of late, though, and while Matthew Tkachuk, Jacob Markstrom and Andrew Mangiapane have been great, I feel like the first line’s been weak. Every year, I hope we can capture the old spirit of the Iginla and Kipprusoff teams, though 🙂

              Like

              • Traditional Catholic Weeb July 11, 2021 at 12:48

                I remember that team well. 2004 was actually the first Stanley Cup Final I saw, and I will admit I was a bit sad that Tampa Bay won in Game 7 that year – not as much as the Leafs getting eliminated by the Flyers in round 2 though. Sad to see that Iginla will definitely go down with a bunch of great guys who have unfortunately never won a Cup 😰

                Liked by 1 person

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