Can you measure the distance of love? Probably more obvious when you have an unrequited crush and you try to be as close to the person you are with. Heh. Doesn’t that make you sound like a stalker? Anyway, in Itsudatte Bokura No Koi Wa 10 cm Datta literally translates to “Our Love Has Always Been 10 cm Apart”. This isn’t a stalker story. About a pair of high school students liking each other but not really official an item yet. Hence that distance between them. Can they close the gap in the end? Sure, 10 centimetres might not sound a lot but tell me again to just whip up a simple hello straight in the face of the one you love without feeling nervous and all that anxiety?

Episode 1
Haruki Serizawa is in a film club. He is arguing with Souta Mochizuki about the next scenes they should be filming today. Yuu Setoguchi puts a stop to it and will just film whatever is suitable today. As they make their way out, Haruki spots Miou Aida painting with her club members outdoors. He remembers the first time they met at the opening ceremony and talked to each other about the meaning of their names. His friends suggests casting Miou in the film but Haruki believes that isn’t possible. He tried to film her once but she shied away so much it was embarrassing. Meanwhile Miou also reminisces about Haruki. She remembers him as a popular guy who stood out. She wasn’t really into boys but he was just different. She is interested to know his likes and dislikes. They are often hanging out with each other that one day the class played a prank on them by writing a love umbrella of their names on the blackboard. As they laugh, Miou was paralyzed in embarrassment until Haruki put his foot down to stop this childish game. It made her at ease. Before she knew it, she was always looking at him and somewhat feels a bit jealous when she hears other girls wishing to get to know him better. Miou talks with her friends, Natsuki Enomoto and Akari Hayasaka about the college they are going. Miou is going to a nearby college and not to an art college as she wants to pursue that only as her hobby. Meanwhile Haruki sees Saku Akechi on his career guidance. Haruki is only interested in being a film director and there are no other choices he has in mind. Miou overslept in the classroom and when she wakes up is surprised to see Haruki sitting in front of her. She is embarrassed to think he saw her sleeping face. They walk home together as they talk about his filming. She saw his latest film and finds it somewhat sad even though it was meant to be funny. Haruki notices Miou often has low self-confidence about her abilities. He tries to brush that off to cheer her up but their faces got too close. It gets more awkward when she suddenly asks if there is someone he likes. She hints there is someone she likes. They start thinking the obvious. Could it be him/her? But they know they can’t get closer than 10 centimetres? Huh?

Episode 2
Miou draws a painting from her memories. When she was young and drowning, a man dived in to save her. She doesn’t remember much of anything except this abstract image. Yuu talks to Miou and her friends that the film club is planning to film a love story of an art club member falling in love with a graduating senior. Hence they need art drawn by the heroine. They will choose which of their image fits best. The theme is love and Haruki as the director will be the judge. During summer break, Haruki does a lot of filming and research on films. A fireworks festival has the friends meet up. Everyone is in their yukata. Haruki and Miou are too shy to look at each other. After having fun for a while, the rest start to notice Haruki and Miou going off on their own. Natsuki is interested to tail them but Yuu doesn’t want to do such things in bad taste. So instead she ‘bankrupts’ him by ordering all the food she can get. Souta is also starting to look interested in Akari but is too afraid to speak up. Fate works in funny ways because somehow Akari trips and he catches her. They have good vibes between them now. When it gets a little crowded, Miou almost passes out. So Natsuki takes her to rest at a secluded area. She talks to him about the person who saved her and will soon meet him. Haruki doesn’t sound happy that person is a guy. The fireworks light up. When he starts to leave, she immediately pulls him closer. Awkward at first but soon the mood is right for them to kiss. Stupid barking dogs ruined it!!! WTF??!!! Miou now has an idea to use fireworks as the colour of love in her painting. The next day, Miou’s mom brings her to see her saviour. You must be thinking after so many years, why now, right? Well, Miou is going to get the shock of her life. It’s a graveyard. Here is the next shock. The person who saved her is buried in the Serizawa’s family grave. Now the final shock to nail it. Surprised to see Saku here, he explains he is visiting the grave of his friend who is no other than Haruki’s big brother, Chiaki.

Episode 3
Today is Chiaki’s death anniversary and when Saku connects the dots she is the person whom Chiaki saved, she goes into shock. She hopes he won’t tell Haruki about this. Back to school, Natsuki and Akari submit their painting. However the guys have to put their decision on hold because Miou has not turned up. Even though she is in school, she avoids mingling with her friends and does stuff alone. Obviously Miou is going through depression as she cannot face Haruki after what she had learnt. Haruki gets frustrated by the day as he can’t see her to find out what’s the problem. One day her friends manage to get her to eat with them. Haruki then pops up. Miou tries to leave immediately but he stops her. She refuses to tell him the problem, angering him even more. You think those tears and words never to see her again is going to cut it? Because of that, a visibly mad Haruki is going to hastily continue proceed with the rest of the filming. I mean, Yuu did remind him they are short on time so they have to just pick a painting and get on with it. Saku comes by to talk to him, hinting a few words that Chiaki would have said. Haruki reminisces of his past with Chiaki. He looks like his splitting image. He was really a good brother. One day he got hospitalized for some illness. Chiaki distracted all that by teaching Haruki about filmmaking. Those were really the good days. Haruki and Yuu get into a heated argument because the former did lots of visibly sloppy editing that puts all their efforts to waste. They wonder if they can even film the last scene at this rate. Haruki goes to cool his head when Saku talks to him privately so as to give him a letter. Looks like he won some Japan movie competition that allows him to go study in USA.

Episode 4
Miou has always been good at drawing and draws every day like as if it were a diary. But envisioning a future without Haruki, she suddenly cannot draw. Miou’s friends ‘force’ her to eat with them. Otherwise they won’t let go of her. She thinks of hanging up her painting because it is time to study for entrance exams. They wonder if she is okay with Haruki leaving. Haven’t you heard? He is leaving to study in America. That shocked look. While Haruki’s classmates are congratulating him over his achievement, he himself is in a bad mood. He remembers asking Saku about writing his essay about the future but was told to think for it himself. Asking Chiaki instead, his goal is to be a film director. Coincidentally that is what Haruki wants to be to, eh? He now questions if that was really his dream. Miou is depressed and thinks of tearing up all her drawings. Can’t do it. She gets an urgent call from Natsuki for help. Just short of manpower for some art workshop. Miou is still depressed. A stubborn kid sick of the drawing throws a tantrum and accidentally flings his paintbrush at Miou. She then teaches him how the paint and it all ended well. Yeah, the kid would love for her to be his teacher next time. Natsuki notes Miou still loves drawing but this seems to trigger her sadness. She feels she can’t be happy now. Group hug to overcome her tears? Well, nothing beats desserts then. This is when Miou tells them about Chiaki as her lifesaver. She feels guilty about it even though Chiaki died of an illness. Of course her friends deny that kind of thinking. Miou has also been avoiding Haruki in fear he would hate her if he knew about this. They don’t blame her for it but believe Haruki is also feeling depressed now. They believe he looks happiest whenever with her. Miou feels better and will complete the love themed painting even though the filming for it has been done. Because Haruki said he was looking forward to it so she is going to finish it and go see him. Meanwhile, Haruki thinks of cancelling studying abroad.

Episode 5
Haruki tells Saku he is cancelling his America trip. Because it isn’t his dream. With Miou back on track with her friends, the problem is now Haruki who has been absent from school ever since. Saku wanted to talk to Yuu and Souta but after overhearing how they are confident Haruki will come back and finish the editing, looks like he is going to do some house visit. Too bad Haruki is still sulking in the dark and talking to him won’t help as he isn’t listening. He leaves but tells him he met Miou at Chiaki’s grave. In school, Miou talks to Saku that she plans to tell him the truth. He gives her a CD and hopes they can watch it together because it supposed to contain the most important thing. Miou finishes her painting and then texts Haruki to meet at the usual place. This only serves to piss him off because wasn’t she the one who told him they shouldn’t be talking again? As the snow gets heavier, he starts to get worried and heads there and sees her waiting. He snaps back about doing such silly things but she reveals about Chiaki as her lifesaver. She never said anything because she was afraid he would be mad at her. Sorry. Well, ironically this only made him angrier for her to think he would be like that. Well… Then he says filming and being a film director isn’t his dream. It all belongs to Chiaki. He was just pretending to be him all the while. Hence all the awards he won are Chiaki’s. Before this guy goes crazy about ‘crediting’ Chiaki, it’s Miou’s turn to be upset and slap him (so hard that her umbrella flew away). She tells him filming IS HIS DREAM. Because she has always observed him and he is having fun most when filming. So don’t give me that Chiaki crap. She shows her picture. A picture of her first love. A back shot of them trying to hold hands. She adds Chiaki helped found his dream. It’s getting too chilly outside so they retreat to his room. She shows him the CD and when they play it, it shows Haruki picking up and filming Chiaki in hospital. Chiaki happily explains how she saved a drowning girl yesterday. Chiaki then asked Haruki about his dream in which he excitingly replied he is going to be a film director and win lots of awards. There. This ‘evidence’. This ‘best cut’. That’s where your dream started.

Episode 6
Haruki isn’t sure about the ending for the film he made despite initially it was the ending he had his sights on. Later Miou tells Haruki that she plans to become an art teacher. She notes how odd it is that she sometimes doesn’t know what to draw. Likewise, Haruki also notes his same predicament. He always decided it based on what Chiaki would be happy with him doing. The moment he decide to make a movie for himself, he lost sight of what to do. After graduation day, Souta hopes he could still keep in touch with Akari. It’s not like he won’t if she says no, right? Since Haruki is flying off tomorrow, he spends his last time with Miou. In the classroom, they write down all their wishes. The entire blackboard of wishes. Funny, I was hoping to see a wish where they would want each other! Haha! I guess the gap is still there. Haruki departs to America alone since he is such a shy guy and doesn’t want his friends to see him off. Miou then watches a DVD that Yuu gave to her secretly. It shows Haruki cancelling his movie club’s film and apologizing they’ve wasted all the hard work they’ve put in. His reason was he couldn’t find an ending where Miou could smile and say it was amazing from the bottom of her heart. They accept his decision since this is their graduation project, if he isn’t satisfied, there is no point finishing it. Miou is very touched and will wait forever for him. Thankfully she doesn’t because time skip to 7 years later, Miou is now an arts teacher at her school. It’s like she has never left. She asks Saku why he became a teacher. It was Chiaki’s idea since he was a guy who didn’t want anything in particular. Natsuki happily announces her engagement to Yuu. She tells them how he told her he wanted to stop being her boyfriend and then popped out a ring. Soon, Miou gets a call from Natsuki telling her that Haruki has finally won some rookie director award. Miou is going to get more than that because she hears a familiar voice calling her. It’s Haruki reeking with American culture! Almost. The first thing she does is to cry?! I am guessing it is tears of joy. When he tells her about his award, he is shocked she isn’t surprised. Well, somebody gave her the spoilers already. Plus, he tossed his job aside to come back all the way here just to tell her. I hope this doesn’t affect him long term. Finally, Haruki is able to take her hand and confess he loves her. She too. And lastly, the obligatory kiss!

Paint My Love
Hooray! You did it! It took 7 years to close that 10 centimetre gap to hold hands and seal it with a kiss but I guess it was all worth the wait. I’m sure in no time they will slowly check off their dreams one by one and the final clincher will be them getting married. Oh wait. Did they write that as their dream back in the classroom then? No? I guess this must be some sort of super secret dream that is now unlocked once the task of closing the 10 centimetre gap is done. Good job guys.

If the story seems to only focus on Haruki and Miou and only tease the other potential pairings like Yuu-Natsuki and Souta-Akari, that is because their stories are already done in the movies that premiered the year before this one. I didn’t see them but I read that their romances occur in a similar timeline. These are just one of the many few stories under the light novel series of Kokuhaku Jikkou Iinkai ~Renai Series~. So if you really want to see what happened to the other pairs (as well the other characters that didn’t appear in this mini TV series), go watch the movies.

I suppose the story feels pretty okay. I mean, it just feels pretty standard. Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. They like each other but some ‘obstacle’ gets in their way of closing the 10 centimetre gap of love. Of course it sounds a bit silly although not far-fetched that they overplayed and dramatized Chiaki’s death as the main reason why their love hit a snag. Therefore we see Haruki and Miou overreacting to it all and hence providing us with much of the needed ingredient for a romance drama. Yeah, it feels like they were trying to ‘blame’ Chiaki and hence can’t move forward. A convenient excuse for Haruki to throw away his dream. There is only so much cliché you can drag out with a plot like that so I guess that is why there is only half a dozen of episodes for this TV series. Not long enough to make it a full season and not short enough to condense it into a movie. But then again, if they mix in other couples (perhaps add some scenes from the movie) to add more episodes, it would only distract and dilute the focus on Haruki and Miou.

So if you can overlook this exaggerated part, I am pretty confident that the character development between Haruki and Miou is quite decent to watch. It is pretty normal that you fear of being rejected and hated and hence all the didn’t-tell-you-in-the-first-place shenanigans. Initial anger expected at first but if they truly love each other (thankfully they do), they can look past this and put this all behind and move on. Because the other characters do not really strongly meddle in their affairs, this is the reason why we get to see how strongly they overcome the obstacles themselves and prove to us their true blue love for each other. After all, the problem between them is only one they could solve themselves. Therefore Saku might look like he isn’t helping and only giving vague hints but pointing them in the right direction is all he needs. The rest is up to them. So he is like their guardian angel?

While watching this series, I can’t help think how some of the circumstances and setting of it are pretty much similar to an old OVA I watched long ago: Memories Off #5: Togireta Film The Animation. This OVA had a guy who has a dream to make his own movie and although he doesn’t have a dead brother, the dead person is his rival whose little sister blames him for her big brother’s death. Wow. Technically more drama here but it felt so long that I forgot almost everything I watched that went in this one. Well, good thing I still barely remember the basic stuffs, eh?

Art and animation are also decent. The characters look like your typical hot bishonen and kawaii bishoujo. This is after all of a romance genre so you want you characters to look good and beautiful. My only ‘gripe’ is that after the 7 years of time skip, we see how the young ones have this mature young adult look. However Saku looks completely the same! Like as though time stopped for only him. Like as though he is some sort of guardian angel silently watching over everything like I’ve said. I believe he too was a young adult but 7 years is enough to age a guy into some middle age man. Oh right, this is anime. Where old people and the aging can still look hot and gorgeous like the young. This anime is produced by Lay-duce who did Classroom Crisis and Magi: Sinbad No Bouken.

It was a pleasant surprise for me that I could identify all (almost) the seiyuus of the main cast. Aki Kenichi Suzumura as Haruki, Toyosaki as Miou, Haruka Tomatsu as Natsuki, Hiroshi Kamiya as Yuu and Yuuki Kaji as Souta. Also, there is Kana Asumi as Akari whom was a delight because I haven’t heard her for quite a long while so it is pleasant to hear her again even if she was a side supporting character and didn’t go nowhere near her trademark Nyaruko style crazy voice. So the only other seiyuu of the main casts I didn’t recognize are Hikari Midorikawa as Saku (Lancer in Fate/Zero) and Ryohei Kimura as Chiaki (Tsubasa in Kyoukai No Rinne). Oh, I thought Miou’s mom sounded familiar and couldn’t put my finger on it. Kikuko Inoue. Sighs. Looks like I let that voice that I am supposed to recognize slipped through again.

The opening theme is Non fantasy by LipxLip. It is quite a lively and upbeat piece and not too bad. But sometimes I can’t help wonder it sounds a little gay because the band is made up of a couple of guys singing. The ending theme isn’t too shabby too. Tokyo Winter Session by the main sextet sounds like a big group mix singing. If you know that American group, S Club 7, you have an idea how this would sound overall. Re: Hatsukoi No Ehon is the special ending theme for the final episode featuring Aki Toyosaki on the lead vocals. Not sure if the rock style of this piece feels suitable. As long as it sounds happy, I suppose everything’s fine then.

Overall, this looks like another one of those typical romance dramas that are of abundance everywhere. Just casual and nothing too deep or convoluted. Perhaps those who would enjoy are those who are fans of the series or starting to like the romance drama genre and would find the love between the protagonists to be cute. Otherwise if you are a veteran who has tons of viewing experience in this category (no, I am not one of them) then the story and characters could be just average and in fact, dull and boring. I guess in some ways this beats ecchi romantic comedy series where you use fanservice and dirty jokes as a cover up for romance. I figure having a 10 centimetre gap with the one you love is better than a 10 kilometre one. Because that sounds more like a restraining order…

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