Sep 11, 2019
OremLK (All reviews)
This review contains mild spoilers for the beginning of the series.

Our Love Has Always Been 10 Centimeters Apart, which I'll refer to from now on as "10 Centimeters" because ye gods that's a mouthful, is a straight fastball, high heat right down the middle. It knows exactly what its strengths are, and it sticks to them. In that sense it reminds me of Violet Evergarden, another melancholy drama which came out a year later, though the setting and subject matter are much different.

10 Centimeters focuses on two characters in their final year of high school, artist Miou and filmmaker Haruki. It's the old trope about opposites attracting. Miou is a shy girl who lacks confidence in herself and her talent. Haruki is cocky and brash. They walk home together every day, and sit on the most memorable anime staircase since Your Name, talking and enjoying each other's company, their hands always--you guessed it--10 Centimeters Apart.

Miou and Haruki each have a pair of friends, other members of their art club and filmmaking club respectively, who I gather are important to other parts of this franchise. (I guess there are two movies; I haven't seen them, and won't discuss them here.)

I think, oddly enough, what I found most notable about this series was what it *didn't* have. There are no annoying love triangles and very little teen angst about their friends. There's no backstabbing of any kind--Miou and Haruki both seem to have chosen really good people to be friends with, and additional drama is unnecessary.

There's no fanservice. In fact, this is a rare show where I really can't tell what demographic it was primarily aimed at, and that's a good thing. The art style is nebulous and could be shounen, shoujo, or somewhere in between. Nobody seems particularly idealized, like a fantasy girl/boy to pine after. Nobody seems particularly blank, like an audience stand-in. They all just seem like regular kids.

There's no ridiculous slapstick or juvenile, prurient comedy. There's no abusive behavior, aside from one dramatic moment, which I'd argue was well-earned and forgiveable. People hurt each other emotionally, but not out of maliciousness--out of misguided good intentions. Sometimes the characters act stupid, but they act stupid in the way that teenagers do, with their crashing self-esteem and raging hormones and poor understanding of the world.

It's all just solid. There's nothing I can really criticize too harshly. The only thing I can really say is that while I appreciate a show which doesn't turn me off to it in one way or another through easily-avoidable mistakes, that lack of risk-taking also veers into predictability. Which brings me back around to Violet Evergarden. Again, a very different show, but one which suffers from the same problem: You never really doubt the outcome of anything that happens. 10 Centimeters is the same way. It has few surprises, and the plot turns are obvious and telegraphed. It's effective and enjoyable, but it will never blow you away.

The art and production are in the same vein. This is a series I rated a solid 8 right down the line. The characters are distinct and identifiable, but somehow a bit generic at the same time. The animation is well-executed, and occasionally very good, but never astonishing. Sound design, music, voices--it's all just very good. Very good--but not great.

The only other mild criticism I have is that I think the translation could use some work (I watched it subtitled on CR). It's not the worst, but it comes across as overly-literal. The way things are phrased is probably the most accurate depiction of the original Japanese, but it sometimes sounds stilted and strange in English; like using the term "lifesaver" for a person who saved someone's life, or using someone's name when talking to them rather than saying "you".

But that's a minor gripe. Overall, if you enjoy high school slice of life or romance series, give this one a shot. It's only six episodes, so it's a small investment, and well, as you can tell by my review--there's nothing wrong with it. It's good. It's *fine*.