Disclaimer: I couldn’t really find a way to talk about this movie in a clinical manner because of how it personally affected me, this may be one of the most personal articles I have ever written. I hope you enjoy it regardless.
I recently managed to grab together the guts to watch Makoto Shinkai’s (5 cm per Second, A place Promised in Our Days) new film The Garden of Words. I had been avoiding watching it due to the fact that his movies tend to pack a serious emotional punch, almost like they are made specifically to personally torment me.
Anyway, I finally managed to see it today and just as expected I really enjoyed it. Its a 45 minute long short film about a 15 year old high schooler who aspires to be a shoe maker and a 27 year old high school teacher who is having work related problems.
The two meet at a pavilion in a park or garden on rainy mornings and slowly begin to interact and get closer to each other with each passing day. Despite what the title says, there are very few lines of dialogue in this film which is something I highly appreciate because the visual and music are more than enough to convey the message to the viewers.
See The Garden of Words is a typical bitter-sweet romance story, the signature of Makoto Shinkai works and I love it for that. Just like his first ever work , Voices of a Distant Star which he amazingly did entirely on his own, The Garden of Words is about long distance relationships. I have somehow been unfortunate in my love life, 2 of the 3 relationships I’ve been in have been long distance, and I think that is why I respond so well to Makoto Shinkai works.
The Nostalgic and dream like aura his anime have work extremely well to convey the feeling of incomprehensible loneliness and longing one feels when they are in a long distance relationship or have found themselves in unrequited love. Its not exactly gloomy its somewhat comforting yet gloomy at the same time which is exactly how all of Makoto Shinkai’s romance films feel.
I have noticed that this is also a major complaint for most anime fans who “don’t get” his loyal supporters. I believe in order to really enjoy Makoto Shinkai’s films one must allow themselves to be immersed in this gloomy, lonely yet comforting world he is building, one must be able to be emotionally manipulated by the almost cryptic dialogue in his films. That or they just have to experience what it’s like to be in a long distance relationship or bitter-sweet relationship at least once.
Most of Shinkai’s anime don’t have peachy perfect endings, which are unfortunately how most of these relationships end up anyway, but somehow they still leave you with a sense of hope. “Maybe true love does exist out there”, “maybe they can get together if they really work harder at it.” All these are thoughts that Shinkai leaves lingering in his viewer’s minds as the credits roll on each of his beautifully animated films.
In the end, The Garden of Words is one of the most immaculately drawn and beautifully animated anime I have ever seen and its content is something any romance fan should see. It struck a chord in me that hasn’t really been touched since 5 cm per second and Toradora!