One More Time, One More Chance by Yamazaki Masayoshi is best known for being the theme song to 5 Centimeters Per Second, though it’s meaning and placement in the film are spoilers in themselves. The version in the movie (spoilerific video) is quite sweepingly epic, sounding like it was put together by Yoko Kanno and with Masayoshi’s voice crashing over waves of emotion. There are several variations of the song, such as the acoustic and piano versions. I find I like the acoustic one best.
The version used in the movie is probably the best one for that scene being that it is quite bombastic and powerful. Combined with the very quick imagery, it creates an almost overwhelming emotion that tighten around your heart. It’s a very strong exclamation point on the loneliness that epitomizes the movie’s ending. The rising pianos and crushing guitar riff tear their fangs into your heart as you see the rushed and pained expressions on the characters’ faces.
However, outside the movie, this is not the feeling the song needs to have. This song is about the purest form of loneliness (read the lyrics here.) It is an incredibly powerful emotion indeed, and it may be one that crushes down in waves, but it lacks bombast. There is a sense of hope in the epic one – the character might even feel that hope, but when you listen to that song, it makes you feel as though there really is the possibility that they can meet again.
The acoustic version is far more sad and lonely and, in my opinion, more powerful. This isn’t the explosion of emotion that surges through the world and has the force to bring two together – these are the desperate cries of a man who is loosing hope. A man who is admitting to himself and the world ‘even though I can’t stop searching, I know I’ll never find you.’ While it may not have fit the scene as well, I feel this carries the emotion a lot more powerfully afterward.
5 Centimeters Per Second resonated with me as a person who lost a love to distance and for a while was just sure that I could get it back and wanted it desperately. Mine wasn’t as strong as that in the film, but I could definitely understand the pain. When my very soul cries out in loneliness, it is just my voice. It is not the voices of everyone who shares my pain, nor the voice that believes we can be together – it is the voice of my own solitary loneliness from the bottom of my heart. I think the acoustic version of this song perfectly encapsulates that emotion. Mashiyoshi’s voice alone is more powerful than any music that can be set to it.