English: The Garden of Words
Synonyms: Koto no Ha no Niwa, The Garden of Kotonoha
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: May 31, 2013
46 min. per episode
PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
L represents licensing company
Score: 8.361 (scored by 49183 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
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SynopsisWe have met, for each of us to walk forward.
Takao, who is training to become a shoemaker, skipped school and is sketching shoes in a Japanese-style garden. He meets a mysterious woman, Yukino, who is older than him. Then, without arranging the times, the two start to see each other again and again, but only on rainy days. They deepen their relationship and open up to each other. But the end of the rainy season soon approaches...
(Source: Comix Wave)
Related AnimeAdaptation: Kotonoha no Niwa, Shousetsu Kotonoha no Niwa
Characters & Voice Actors
Makoto Shinkai is a name that has become increasingly prevalent over the years. And for good reason, too. After hitting the anime industry in 2007 with his opus magnum "5 Centimeters Per Second", he quickly established himself as a director with the ability to combine masterful artistic talent with emotional, bittersweet storytelling.
Does his latest animation achieve that same ideal? In some ways, it does. But if you are awaiting another great story, this is not what you are looking for.
"The Garden of Words" is a short film depicting the romance and relationship between a 15-year-old boy and 27-year-old woman. Takao, the boy, feels lost and alienated by his uncertain future and passion for shoemaking. Concurrently, Yukino feels lost in an adult society where she feels she does not belong.
It's a premise that holds potential for a compelling story. How many films deal with such an age gap, especially with an older female? Very few. Sadly, this film doesn't realize its inherent potential. Rarely are their feelings for each other actually explored. It simply is. They meet, they talk, they fall in love. And why? The relationship seems platonic until a sudden confession at the very end. While the romance is at least passable, one can't shake off the feeling that more could have been done with the two. It all just feels a bit contrived.
Then again, one could always ask: with only 46 minutes of film, isn't it too much to expect developed characters and relationships? Maybe. But Shinkai was not constrained. He could have simply increased the length and have made the story exponentially better as a result.
Where "The Garden of Words" makes up for its romance, perhaps, is in its dialogue. What makes the dialogue so intriguing is not what it does, but what it doesn't do. It is simple, restrained; often limited to ordinary conversations between the characters. It shows more than tells. When Takao's dreams of being a shoemaker are revealed, it is through watching him sketch feet outside and craft shoes in his room. When it must tell, it relies on introspective monologues and poetic conversation. It gives us the time to think and the time for the atmosphere to establish itself. The modesty of the dialogue captures the monotony of their lives-- the change that they experience together.
Or at least that is what the majority of the film accomplishes. What builds as a subtle, heartwarming story regrettably ends as conventional melodrama. Any maturity in the characters is thrown aside in favor of screaming and crying. And, yet again, it relies on Shinkai's exhausted theme of unrequited love. For once, just once-- could he bother to convey the romance differently? It would be a sad thing if a director with so much talent was reduced to being a one-trick-pony. He is capable of more than this. I would like to believe that, anyway.
From a visual perspective, Shinkai's latest is nothing short of a masterpiece. If you have watched any of his previous works (notably 5 Centimeters Per Second), you will be very much familiar with the gorgeous scenery and eyecandy that accompany them. And is eyecandy ever plentiful here. It is a visual spectacle in every regard, meant to have us immersed in the world. Perhaps too much so, as you might find yourself so stunned by the scenery that any dialogue will sound like little more than background noise.
Numerous animation techniques are employed in the film. The most prominent of which is a depth of field effect, often used but never to the point of being distracting. Lens flare and careful panning are also frequently used to accentuate the scenery. Not a single error (at least noticeably) exists within the animation or artwork, thanks to Shinkai's meticulous attention to detail. There are times when the artwork looks and feels so authentic that it could very well be mistaken for live-action at a glance. "The Garden of Words" may be the best-looking anime to date. It is something that other animated films will (and should) aspire to, and nothing more could be asked from it visually.
Rain is the primary theme of "The Garden of Words", both in narrative and aesthetics. In storytelling, rain is often used to represent loneliness. Here instead the rain symbolizes happiness and peace. It succeeds in creating the appropriate atmosphere for the film, ensuring that there is more here to experience than the visuals. It is just as much an experience to feel as it is to gawk at.
The score comprises mostly of piano pieces and ambient noise which serve to further immerse the viewer. It's deliberately simple-- anything thrilling would only serve to undermine the experience. Notably, there is one vocal piece that plays during the climax and credits. I didn't think too much of it other than "Hey, this reminds me of 5cm/s!"
So what is "The Garden of Words" in the end, beyond a visual and aural treat? I would tell you that it is not a very good story. What brilliance it holds at the start is obstructed by lackluster characterization and cloying drama. With more focus given to the writing process and with a story at least partly equal to its production quality, this may have been a film to remember for years to come. As it stands, it is a captivating but ultimately disappointing experience. It could have been much more without the melodrama and with more room given for the characters to live and breathe. After all, beauty is best achieved in simplicity.
If only Shinkai held to this for the entire film. read more
Given that you may not care for my opinion, let me start this review by letting you know whether you should watch Kotonoha no Niwa (KnN from now on) on an attempt to make this reaview more useful.
You should NOT watch it if:
You dislike Spice of Life, slow pacing, little dialogue and/or romance anime. This movie is with certainty not shounen, there's no fight scenes, no world-scale-plot, no ecchi, no fanservice nor unbeatable main characters.
I also think that you would like it better with at least a basic understanding of japanese, as it will, IMO, give you a better understanding of some of the plot's subtleties.
You SHOULD watch it if:
You're in for an eye-candy, a down to earth love story as well as state of the art (yet without action) animation.
I would watch it anyway if I were you, for just the landscapes and all the art in general would make it for a worthy watch even if it didn't have any plot at all.
Additional tips :)
You should pay close attention to the movie to understand most of its undertext, I advise you not to watch this when you're sleepy or when you just don't care. You might not be comfortable with the romance centering around a teacher and a student, if this is the case, You shouldn't pick this anime up. If you don't mind being spoiled, I'll add a remark at the bottom of the review.
It's true that the story is astonishingly simple, a 15 year old student who happens to end up sheltered from heavy rain along a 27 year old woman on several continuous occasions and starts building up feelings for her as the movie goes on. Even under this simple plotline, director Makoto Shinkai chooses to go with what is possibly the simplest approach to it, in fact, (although I'm not certain, so don't take it seriously) I would say that there's more music than there's dialogue. Even though, I still think that this left the storytelling unharmed, I actually think that the way it's told is absolutely sublime, the closest to perfect I had watched in ages; it feels like there are real conversations going on, not just game tutorials or TV documentaries or whatever popping out of nowhere. It is this minimalistic approach on dialogue and resource that allows for the one that's actually used to really make an impression on the viewer, that is however, if you're willing to watch it. Anythough, on a personal level, I give this movie a 10 in story, because of its mature and realistic discourse.
As would be expected, Makoto Shinkai delivers an awe-inspiring visual style, perfect from top to bottom, starting on the delicious and natural looking greeness of the colour palette to the intrincate reflections on wet surfaces. This is indeeed the strongest category the movie has to offer, with extremely polished sequences, developed into perfection and without skimping a single cent on a single frame. It's an obvious 10.
Very nice SFX never feeling reused or sloppy really allow for better enjoyment, specially without the awkward volume adjustments that frequently occur on lower quality anime which attempt to save money/time instead of properly adjusting and selecting samples. The voice acting was all that could be asked for, though, not having any particular difficulties or challenges of the sort to seiyuus, there's very little to state here. Something I DID find remarkable was music, which, if paid attention to, proves to raise the bar on regards of music in anime overall, with complex rythms and syncopations, as well as intrincate harmonic progressions, the soundtrack of KnN put itself amongst the few animes with actually artful original music. I give sound a 10, for this merit, as well as for how it compares with others.
As mentioned before, these characters DO seem real, and although simple in nature, they manage to develop fully all throughout, and most importantly, they manage to do it without taking aid from cliché. This alone deserves a 10.
I really loved this anime, I will have to be forgiven by yourself if I had overstated my praise for the movie in this manner, but I really do think it's a perfect 10. Who knows, maybe I'll watch it again in some time and realise it's not that perfect, but for now I do think it is, as I think it's underrated, and to say that a 150er is underrated really is taking it to the extreme. Of the animes I have started and finished so far, I could only compare my enjoyment of this one to Fullmetal Alchemist and Mushishi, which you must agree is VERY high up.
Overall I give this movie a 10. :)
If you're a love-lover, it'll disappoint you to know that there's never a kiss throughout the movie. The movie doesn't end up quite closed on the plot matter, for, although it reaches completion, it seems as though another movie could be made out of it with the characters far away from each other. (I'm inclined to believe that the best plot is one that doesn't need a sequel, but that does make the viewer want a sequel :) )
Mikoto Shinaki is involved in both works so expect similar themes and style of writing. (he is director and writer of both films)
In both films, there features a young main male protagonist who seemingly forms a romantic relationship with the female protagonist. The mood is calm with a lighthearted atmosphere. At the same time, they bond through connections.
The visuals/artwork in both series is also absolutely stunning.
•both were created by the same director
•both are absolutely amazing in the animation are style wise, there is absolutely no flaw or any faults at all of the beautifully drawn animation which is spectacular
•both focus on particular relationship that is in our society today and break it down with absolute accuracy and awareness from which both feelings are understood from both counterparts
•both relationships have the meaning 'distance' in a sense and always congregates that distance isnt an issue.
•both are a beautifully stunning must watch, yet from my opinion the pace for each of the movies are completely different in a sense, i couldnt grasp/engage/attach myself to the characters from the Garden of Words like i could in 5cmps, so my judgment is cloudy, or i expected too much from the director for the movie to be better than 5cmps.
•they are both very similar with the animation/soundtracks/romance, just a sight for sore eyes, you will like one if you watched the other.
Two fantastic movies by the same author, extraordinary art and a story the revolves around love .
Bittersweet love stories accompanied by beautiful music and a visual feast. Can the main characters overcome the "distance", whether it be physical or psychological, between their love?
Both are visual beauties with bittersweet but enjoyable stories and deal with the theme of "distance".
An emotional love story by the same writer/director!
Love portrayed in beautiful manners through fantastic dialogue complimented by the best visuals today's anime has to offer.
I highly recommend both.
Both same director, both about a love who canno't be lived by the two lovers.
Beautiful art, beautiful soundtrack, all the emotions pass by these and some few words.
In others words, both are wonderful and similar
Both have "HOLY SHIT/10" art. They're both about distance. (like other Shinkai movies)
1. Both are love stories facing difficulties
2. Both have the same director Makoto Shinkai
3. Excellent scenarios, landscape, animation
Opening ThemeNo opening themes found, add themes.
Ending Theme"Rain" by Motohiro Hata
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HayaiSUB [Hayaisubs] (Brazilian Portuguese)
Related ClubsAnime Fun Club, ♥ Ecchi & Hentai ~♥~ Lovers ♥, Pokemon Showdown Anime and Manga, Miyu Irino Fans!!, Romantic-Love Club, Romance+, Stand-Alone Movies/OVAs, Tranquil Anime, Realistic Anime, Age Gap RnD Department, Hanazawa Kana's Fans!, Kotonoha no Niwa, Recommendation Club
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