Our Love Has Always Been 10 Centimeters Apart snuck up on me last year. I didn’t realize it was airing until after the season was over, and it wasn’t until now that I had the chance to actually watch it. I also didn’t know that this short, 6-episode series is supposed to be a sequel to the Vocaloid anime short film I’ve Always Liked You, something I reviewed a while ago now. But in watching this anime, I almost think you could consider this it’s own stand-alone series with how little it actually feels like the continuation of the previous film. I honestly prefer looking at it separately like this as well, as the story told within the series is well-crafted whole, using it’s short run to its advantage by focusing just on the story and characters without extraneous filler.
Where I’ve Always Liked You focused on the relationship between Yuu and Natsuki, 10 Centimeters Apart focuses on Miou and Haruki’s relationship more in depth. It tells of their last year in high school, as Haruki, Yuu, and Mochita struggle to make a final film for their Movie Club before their forced to retire. It also tells of Akari, Natsuki, and Miou’s Art Club experiences and the development of their passion for art as the year comes to a close. But Miou and Haruki both have something their keeping from one another. Something, that if not dealt with, could mean the end of their dreams for the future.
Studio Lay-Duce, a company formed from old Studio Bones employees, took over the animation of this series, and I have to say they did a pretty great job on it. The backgrounds are highly detailed and for those moments of high emotion, the directing and animation style really steps up to create that necessary tense feeling. It would have been ironic, in a way, if the anime had poor directing as one of the key story bits is Haruki striving to fulfill his dream of becoming a world-class director. I do think one of the best places to see the skill this studio and director have is towards the end of the series. It’s a particularly tense scene where Haruki is questioning his reasoning behind his long-held dream. The color-pallet gets darker and Haruki himself begins to warp a bit as he struggles with an existential crisis causing him to fall into a deep depression. On the opposite spectrum, we also get detailed backgrounds especially for those moments where Miou and Haruki meet on a staircase overlooking the city.
I don’t really follow Vocaloid or HoneyWorks to really talk about the music elements or background of this series. Apparently it’s part of HoneyWork’s “Confess Your Love Committee: Romance Series” project that includes this series, I’ve Always Liked You, and The Moment You Fall in Love (which I’m going to have to watch now). So I can with definite certainty say that Vocaloid was not what drew me to this series or why I think it’s good. The series is good because it has a tight, well-constructed story that discussed some complicated themes involving family tragedy, guilt, insecurity, and love. Haruki and Miou come across as well-rounded characters, passionate about their dreams to the point that they’re willing to pursue them without each other. Haruki dreams about being a famous movie Director and actively pursues that dream through his involvement in the Movie Club, his submission to a prominent contest, and the multiple awards he’s shown as getting. We also see the development of Miou’s passion for art through her involvement in the Art Club, her struggle with creative block, and her discovery that she actually enjoys teaching art. I love seeing character like this, with worlds outside one another. It not only adds realism to the characters, but adds another level of potential conflict or contrast between the characters as the story advances.
Insecurity is a running theme throughout the series. Miou and Haruki start at different ends of the spectrum, but end up switching places towards the end in an interesting turn of fate. Miou struggles with her own sense of self worth, not comprehending why Haruki would love her and constantly saying the phrase “someone like me”. Haruki is more confident in himself, believing in his skill as a director and just generally believes in himself and his abilities. On multiple occasions we see him reprimand Miou for saying her customary “someone like me” phrase, trying to get her to see the good in herself. As the story progresses, both characters face a crisis that shakes their sense of self, throwing them into an emotional and creative depression. The interesting part is both how their depressions grow from each other and how they guide each other back to a sense of equilibrium again.
It’s here that the side characters play an important role as well. Natsuki and Akari are the ones that take Miou to teach an art class with them. It’s there that she discovers she actually likes teaching people and thus begins her upward ascent out of depression. It’s also in talking to both of them that she is able to let out all her problems and come up with a way to resolve them. We see through their relationship the benefits of a support network in times of emotional turmoil. It’s Haruki’s adviser and family friend, Akechi, that winds up giving both Miou and Haruki the push they need to reconcile. And while I think the side character of this series could use a little more characterization, I don’t know if it’s actually needed in a sense. I like that the series stays focused on Haruki and Miou, and the other spin-off animes offer more characterization of the other four that somewhat carries over into this one as well.
Mainly though, I love that Haruki is a likable love interest. I genuinely found myself crying as he struggled through his depression and self-doubt. I think it’s this sense of depth of character that makes 10 Centimeters Apart so good. We see their good and their bad. We see confident people fall and pick themselves back up. We see two people who love each other come together to support one another through troubling times to an ultimately fulfilling ending. I think lovers of romance everywhere will like this series, so let me know in the comments what you thought. I’d love to know you’re opinion!
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