r#137 – the garden of words.

I’ve been mentioning this movie a few times now on #moe404, together with the 5 Centimeters Per Second and any other movies from Makoto Shinkai, and that is not for no reason at all. The Garden of Words, just like any other movies created by him, is a beautiful aesthetic video with a great story, and awesome narrative, and somehow also relatable characters with their relatable life scenarios and circumstances.

This time, the piece is a love story; this is a romantic movie that explains how love will come from something, somewhere, someone unexpected … and it is okay to fall in love, everybody deserves to be loved. The Garden of Words is such a beautiful movie from anywhere you see it.

* spoiler ahead!

synopsis – the garden of kotonoha.

Takao Akizuki is an aspiring 15-year-old shoemaker, and Yukari Yukino is a beautiful yet mysterious 27-year-old woman. On a rainy morning, the two meet at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. While Takao is skipping his morning class to have his own time learning to design shoes, Yukari is avoiding work due to personal problems in her professional life.

Despite Yukari being distant and tells Takao nothing about herself, and not even her name, Takao finds himself easy to open up to her, to even sharing his secret dedication in designing shoes. When they meet again on another rainy day, Yukari lends her own foot to inspire Takao’s passion for his shoes. Then Takao continues to meet with Yukari throughout the rainy season, and without realizing it, the two are able to alleviate the worries hidden in their hearts just being with each other in every rainy day.

Without knowing anything about Yukari, Takao realizes that being with her has taught him ‘how to walk’ and not clinging to his past. And with that, he decides to make shoes that should push her to get up and walk, too. But a promise of a pair of shoes doesn’t make their personal struggles disappeared completely, and as the end of the rainy season approaches, their undefined relationship will be put to the test.


The Garden of Words, if I’m not wrong, is the second movie I’ve watched from Makoto Shinkai. I was not an adult yet at that time (15 if I’m not wrong) and even though I couldn’t relate with the two characters, I’m pretty sure that the movie still made me cried. Having myself haven’t stepped a foot on a high school, not knowing the dampness of my uniform’s hem soaked by someone else’s umbrella, haven’t I clung to someone’s suit and feel the warm body pressed up against my back … I felt the rain coming at my face as my tears running down my cheeks.

Let me tell you that Makoto Shinkai is an amazing director. While Miyazaki-sensei with his own Studio Ghibli has made two or three times more movies than how much Makoto Shinkai has made his movies, I honestly had cried more from watching the movies made by Makoto Shinkai. Most pieces he made are so melancholic and tend to stab my past and made it bleed.

The Garden of Words is not a movie with complicated storylines, it’s simply about two individuals who live in their own world, but somehow discovered a way to be together. The runtime is not even an hour long, but I hope you can appreciate this movie as I appreciated it, even if it doesn’t manage to make your past bleed like mine.

The Garden of Words was Shinkai-sensei’s first attempt at making a love story using the traditional Japanese word of “love” —because love covers a wide range of emotions and behavioural phenomena, the Japanese language uses three words to convey the English equivalent of love. During the era of the Man’youshuu, the native Japanese words were starting to be written using kanji, and the word for “love” was written as “lonely sadness”.

The movie emphasizes the original meaning of koi, a longing for someone in solitude, but in The Garden of Words, the concept is being told in a modern setting. According to Shinkai-sensei, loneliness is the central element of the movie, and so he wishes that the movie will cheer up people who feel lonely or incomplete in their social relations. However, he also made a point that the movie doesn’t treat loneliness as something that must be fixed.

Although the story’s central theme is that loneliness, the movie uses shoes and rain as motifs, together with the Japanese old school poetry and the Japanese garden in which the story mostly takes place. Ruling out the general outlook of rain as sad and gloomy, Shinkai-sensei noted that the movie treats the taste of rain as something that’s vivid, something that connects the two main characters from the reality of their lives and the limitations imposed by the society. Along with that, the story tells a parallel between love and rain, two things that neither can be controlled nor stopped.

script and its casts.

We have met, the reason for two of us to go separate ways..,..

Many people are not a fan of works by Shinkai-sensei, I kinda get it when they find his movies to be scored very low in the plot department. Maybe because most of his movies have a slow narrative, or maybe because most people don’t agree with some characters’ point of view in the story despite the story itself being straightforward. But I guess it won’t be the case for The Garden of Words, I bet you’ll like the movie regardless because the story is kinda open for suggestions.

The poetic side of the movie such as the rain, the both monologue of Takao and Yukari, the unspoken promise, and everything else really shines bright. I literally managed to read the whole Wikipedia page of this movie, and I was surprised about what actually Makoto-shinkai really wanted to convey from creating The Garden of Words.

While I enjoyed the storytelling in the first half of the movie, I should also give you the fair praise for the climax and the notable characters developments in the second half of the movie. It was a bit more dramatic as it slowly reveals who our main characters really are, and the rising chance for them to be honest with themselves.

Takao and —especially— Yukari are both broken characters caused by their past, and therefore I really like them both. I also really like the fact that the movie managed not to be as depressing despite both the main characters are dealing with depression, and how it managed not to be as lonely despite both the main characters are dealing with loneliness.

The only thing you’d wish at the second half is the longer movie runtime. Even in the manga, of which created after the movie was released; instead of cropping a part of the story, they added more scenes to give more story and resolution to the relationship between Yukari and Takao. I don’t really care about any support characters, but I do love the characters of Yukari and Takao as much as I like their stories.

visual and arts.

Like most pieces made by Shinkai-sensei, or most modern anime in general, The Garden of Words was created using a combination of hand-drawn animation, rotoscoping, and CGI. But realistically, Shinkai-sensei made half of the movie’s backgrounds by using his own photographs as a base only to add more layers over the top with Adobe Photoshop, and only the other half that was fictional settings of which created with traditional animation and CGI.

One particular aspect that made the works of Shinkai-sensei to be well-known is the background drops, such as the rainy scenes at the park in this movie; where the colour palette was toned down, and pale green shading was used to match the gloomy garden and rainy weather, thereby increasing the detail and defining the characters.

Usually in movies from Ghibli, they reach fairness in the details between the characters and everything around them. In his movies, however, the characters are usually drawn rather more simple than everything around them. This tends to make me as the audience overwhelmed, but in a good way. The settings itself mostly take place in a garden, and with that being it, I never thought an anime with so much green could be this beautiful.

As usual, Shinkai-sensei also gave us a few minutes of ‘music video’ as a part of the movie’s epilogue. I always call these a music video because it always accompanied by a song that’s so relevant with the story and the characters, together with the ‘money shots’ that are so beautiful and just straightforward gorgeous. I realized that most of us would ask more for the third act of the movie, but I think this music video does pay it off.

The feature song “Rain” was originally written and performed by Senri Oe in 1998, and it was re-recorded specifically for this movie by Motohiro Hata. Added more value, the music was produced by Daisuke Kashiwa, a solo artist who creates both acoustic and electric filmy soundscapes and atmospheres by melting together a variety of classic instruments, ambient music, spoken word snippets, and of course, crispy beats.

Even though the soundtrack cannot compete with the combination of winter and summer vibe from 5 Centimeters Per Second, I still really admire the production value on both music and visual of this 46 minutes movie. ❤️ I just love it.

closing – nesha’s final verdict.

Like I said earlier, I think this is the second movie that I enjoyed from Makoto Shinkai after his 5 Centimeters Per Second. I really like every mood that he managed to convey in every movie he made. I love the colours. I enjoyed the atmosphere. I love it when it zooms into the detail, and I love it when it gets blurry —I’m talking about both the animation and the story.

Makoto Shinkai is the kind of person that I believe he’s making anime because he loves making it at first, and because it’s his job at later. Despite Your Name., he didn’t even care about the general format of how anime should be presented. But the result for works he made just speak for itself.

なるかみの, すこしとよみて,
A faint clap of thunder,
Clouded skies,
Perhaps the rain will come.
If so, will you stay here with me?

— Yukari.

The Garden of Words is not a movie for those lover bois out there, it was made for lonely peps you can always find in any part of this world. The movie was made for those people who don’t think they can move on with their life, they who still clung to their past, the kind of person who worries too much about everything, including themselves. People who think that love is so far beyond their reach … if that’s you, then you should watch this movie.

Maybe after The Garden of Words, you’ll be able to walk, too. To not worry about every promise you broke, to not worry about every wrong move you made, to not worry about living a mistake, to ignore the feeling that you cannot shake … maybe you’ll be able too. The Garden of Words is not a masterpiece, but it’s a great piece nevertheless.

A faint clap of thunder,
Even if the rain comes or not,
I will stay here,
Together with you.

— Takao.

* scored 8 out of 10.

additional pieces of information.

external links: official site (1), official site (2), Wiki (en), Wiki (jp), Allcinema, Anison, Syoboi, ANN, and MAL

* this image is available to be downloaded!

The Garden of Words is a short movie, lasting approximately 46 minutes in length. Shinkai-sensei had stated in an interview with ANN that he does like making shorter movies, he intended for people to casually watch the movie on tablets, computers, and home theatres. He acknowledged that it is difficult to sell a 46-minute movie for theatres, though in the end, many individuals in the anime industry had requested to show the movie in theatres and various conventions. The movie’s distribution company Toho emphasized that the quality of the story and the reputation of its director played a key role in the decision to bring it to theatres.

Nevertheless, now as I’m writing this paragraph, the movie is available on HIDIVE, Crunchyroll, Netflix, and most film and anime streaming services. You ARE able to casually watch the movie on tablets, computers, and home theatres, just like how Shinkai-sensei intended the movie to be watched.

Anyhow, thank you for reading. I’m sorry that I didn’t post anything in the last couple of weeks, I was sick. It still hasn’t gone away now, I’m still coughing every 2 minutes, but I’m way better than before. Keep watching anime, and I’ll see you again in the next one! ❤️ Bai-baaiii~

© written by nesha5971

One response to “r#137 – the garden of words.

  1. Wow! I clicked on this post because I too have watched this beautiful movie and written a review on it, so I was beyond curious about how it may be perceived by someone else. This review surprised me because it pointed out many things I overlooked in the film, and this asset of the film never fails to impress me. A good review! Makes me want to watch the film again rn! 🙂

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