Watching my first Makoto Shinkai film in a cinema was probably one of the most memorible things I’ve experienced and Garden Of Words certainly was a great way for me to start my 2013 Scotland Loves Animation viewings here in Edinburgh. He was a guest of honor here at the sold out screening and delivered a quick introduction to the movie. I was told that the movie was mostly about rain, (even by Shinkai himself) and that was certainly correct as most of the movie takes place in the rain.
The movie is about two people who meet at a certain place in a large park while it rains: Takao, a high school student who wants to become a shoemaker and skips school to come to this place to do some shoe drawings and Yukino, an older women who wears a business suit, drinks beer, eats chocolate, and avoids her job.
The movie mostly plays out through Takao’s perspective and Yukino remains a mystery during the first half, so we come to understand Takao’s motivations, his personal life and his hardships. We also see plenty of charming moments as Takao and Yukino interact with each other in the rainy park.
The movie is around 45 minutes long, so while it focuses successfully on the two main characters, the supporting cast get very little screen time, even sometimes lacking introductions which left me a bit confused at times. For example, we never see Takao’s mother and she’s just casually mentioned; it’s an issue but it never effects the main meat of this movie.
The second half is a bit more dramatic as it slowly reveals who Yukino is and you start to understand why she avoids work so often, which leads to a fitting climax at the end that creates an emotional effect. I would have felt happy if the movie had ended there, as, after the credits I didn’t really feel anything about the epilogue. Overall, I found the plot to be decent but the one thing I adored about the movie is the animation.
Basically the animation in Garden Of Words is almost flawless: the rain in the movie is animated very realistically, as is the wood on the park bridges, the depiction of leaves on trees and even the wind effects on the water. The Q + A session after the movie made me even more impressed since the majority of what I was seeing was all hand drawn and even the use of CG trains is well implemented; it’s something I will look forward to in future Shinkai films.
While I wasn’t always emotionally connected to the moments happening in Garden Of Words, I was very satisfied with what was offered and with the excellent production values, I can easily recommend Garden Of Words to those who haven’t checked out Makoto Shinkai movies yet. With a DVD and Blu-ray release coming soon, it won’t be too long before it becomes available in the UK.