Garden of Words
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When Takao, a young high school student who dreams of becoming a shoe designer, decides to skip school one day in favor of sketching in a rainy garden, he has no idea how much his life will change when he encounters Yukino. Older, but perhaps not as much wiser, she seems adrift in the world. Despite the difference in their ages, they strike up an unusual relationship that unexpectedly continues and evolves, without planning, with random meetings that always occur in the same garden on each rainy day. But the rainy season is coming to a close, and there are so many things still left unsaid and undone between them. Will there be time left for Takao to put his feelings into actions and words? Between the raindrops, between the calms in the storm, what will blossom in THE GARDEN OF WORDS?
Like many 15-year-olds, Takao Akizuki, the hero of director-screenwriter Makoto Shinkai's featurette The Garden of Words (2013), feels trapped in high school. On rainy days, he cuts his morning classes to sit in a park modeled on Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo. Sheltered in a pavilion, he draws and dreams of becoming a designer/shoemaker. One morning he meets an "older woman," 27-year-old Ms. Yukino, who seems as lost and directionless as he is. A curious friendship develops between the two misfits. At 44 minutes, The Garden of Words suggests the anime equivalent of a short story. In his earlier, longer films--Voices of a Distant Star (2003), The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004), Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011)--Shinkai combined a lyrical visual sense with a frustrating inability to present a story with a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. The shorter form allows him to focus on evoking the atmosphere of the rainy Japanese spring and summer: the camera lingers on spattering droplets, reflections in puddles, dripping leaves, flowing streams. But neither Takao nor Yukino emerge as fully realized as their surroundings, and Takao's bitter outburst when Yukino rejects his fumbling expression of affection comes out of nowhere. Although The Garden of Words ranks as Shinkai's most satisfying work to date, the viewer can't help wishing he would find a writer-collaborator who would give him a script worthy of his directorial talent. (Rated TV 14 D: alcohol and tobacco use, profanity) --Charles Solomon
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One thing I really like from his work his backgrounds. They are practically pictures. The rain drops hitting the pond look quite real. Just watching the garden shots and city shots are worth the time alone.
I found the story moving. Takao is a new high school student who lives a lonely existence dreaming of making shoes. He is truly alone. His mother (seen once in a background scene) appears to be an unhappy alcoholic who spends much time away from home. His brother moves out. Not really fitting in with the "normal" expectations; he likes to cut morning classes on rainy days sit in an arbor and sketch shoe designs. How he becomes attracted to shoe design is both touching and sad. It's not clearly defined; it's what I interpreted. In the arbor is a young woman. Obviously older as she is drinking beer and eating chocolate. Never mind the fact it's morning. She is another lonely person and carries pain. Hidden but I perceived it. They start talking to each other and over time start an unusual relationship. He has a crush and over time I noticed the beer consumption drops and she starts eating better.
You almost wish they could be together. But the age difference makes this impossible. There is a final show down which is bitter sweet.
Do watch the scenes through the credits.
The disk also includes interviews, the usual trailers, a story board example, and an English comentary.
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This is probably my favorite work of his next to the recent Kimi no Na Wa - and like most of his films, the artwork is absolutely gorgeous.
It's short, but pieces together nicely with decent character development. The dub is surprisingly impressive, as they act rather than voice-act. It's reminiscent of the Ghibli dubs. That difference gives the film a much more somber, realistic tone. However, there's always the Japanese dub with subtitles if English dubs aren't your thing.
As a Shinkai fan, I really enjoyed Garden of Words.
I wanted to give this film 5 stars but I did feel that this film explored themes already done in Shinkai's earlier film "5cm per second". I don't want to spoil it for anyone but there were similarities to me between both films conclusions. Still, this was a great film and had its own story, characters and issues to resolve by film's conclusion.
I recommend this film highly. It is absolutely gorgeous, intelligent and quite an emotional journey.
The movie is about a student and a teacher having a deeper relationship than the usual but it is not a sexual one----at least not yet...the very end of the credits may allude to a future relationship but I personally don't think so.
The animation is gorgeous and it makes me wish that the U.S. returns to traditional animation.