Reviewby Theron Martin,
Our love has always been 10 centimeters apart.
Episodes 1-6 streaming
Haruki Serizawa of the Movie Club first noticed Mio Aida of the Art Club after their high school entrance ceremony, and while they've never actually dated, they have been close ever since, often walking home or talking together. The friends/club members of both are surprised that they aren't dating and try to push the two together, but a secret from Mio's past finally being revealed to her makes her question whether she has any right to be with Haruki, while Haruki starts to question his own film-making motives when he reflects on the older brother he lost to illness many years earlier. That combination of stresses threatens to disrupt Haruki's future plans and the completion of his final movie production for the Movie Club, much to the consternation of his friends Yu and Sota and club supervisor (and close friend of his brother) Mr. Akechi. Meanwhile Mio's friends Natsuki and Akari try to get to the bottom of her morose standoffishness.
This six-episode series is the third and final anime installment of a multimedia project by HoneyWorks, which involved anime films, light novels, and vocaloid songs. It's fully intertwined with the previous movies I've Always Liked You and The Moment You Fall in Love, which used the same principal cast; this final entry just focuses on a different couple. However, being familiar with any other aspect of the project is not necessary to fully appreciate this one, as it stands well enough on its own. If you want more detail on some of the other relationships hinted at in this series, check out the previous two films. I don't think it matters whether you watch this series or the first movie first, but the second movie should be watched after the first.
This version focuses almost exclusively on Haruki and Mio, a potential couple who received only secondary attention in the first movie, but got special attention in the stills during the closing credits, which do roughly lay out the course of this series' events. These six episodes show that their story was much more involved than that movie implied, with the title ringing true to their relationship: ever close, but not quite touching. Haruki is a confident young man who was inspired by his brother Chiaki to pursue filmmaking, though as the series progresses he falls into a crisis about whether it's really his passion or just something he's doing in his deceased brother's place. By contrast, Mio is more timid, a girl who understands art deeper than most and expresses herself through it well. Their two closest friends and clubmates on each side are more simply but clearly defined, while Mr. Akechi impresses much less as the supervisor intent on being obstinately passive even when his intervention could have saved everyone a lot of grief.
The story is a pure teen romantic drama told with an equal alternating focus between Haruki and Mio. It starts out so unremarkably that its first couple of episodes come off very bland, so I was left aching for something to shake things up. This change-up hits at the end of episode two, as the introduction of a fairly predictable twist initiates the first of the series' two main crises. The following two episodes are decidedly angst-ridden, but that uneven experience is shattered by the vastly better final two episodes. Episode five delivers a satisfying emotional climax and episode six wraps the story in equally satisfying fashion, including a “seven years later” scene with a significant degree of symbolic fulfillment. This isn't major-league tear-jerker material, but you still might want to have tissues handy if you're sensitive to such things.
Unlike the first two movies, which were directed by Tetsuya Yanagisawa of High School DxD fame, this series features Hitoshi Nanba as chief director and Takurō Tsukada as director, the same team behind the Fate/Grand Order: First Order special, along with the same studio behind that effort, Lay-duce. While the character designs and overall aesthetic remain the same as the movies, these episodes were clearly animated with more budgetary and time constraints, as the character art frequently looks less refined and slides off-model more often, especially in the early episodes. The last couple episodes almost achieve the fims' level of quality, but overall the animation effort is a step down from the movies. Still, the image that Mio comes up with as her belated masterwork about love is convincing in its impact. Unlike the first movie, this one lacks even the faintest whiff of fanservice, as squeaky-clean as anime romances get.
As with the movies, the music is produced by the Vocaloid unit HoneyWorks. They arranged and composed the opener and closer as well as a handful of insert songs and the musical score. All of these are definitely fitting for the series and the pieces are united well into an overall musical theme, but only in some key emotional scenes does their effect stand out. On the voice acting front, kudos go to Aki Toyosaki for a difficult but effective performance as Mio.
Overall, Our love has always been 10 centimeters apart. requires some patience, since it's definitely a slow starter. But those who weather the less distinctive early episodes will be rewarded, and the six-episode runtime seems exactly right for the story being told.
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B
+ Satisfying emotional and dramatic climaxes, solid character development
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