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: 8.401 (scored by 23117 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
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
If there’s one, obvious theme that connects all of Makoto Shinkai’s works, it would be “distance”. As a bittersweet love story, The Garden of Words carries similar expectations to Shinkai’s other popularized works, Five cm per Second, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, and Voices of a Distant Star. Shinkai uses beyond-gorgeous animation to tell a modest yet believable story, and The Garden of Words is as bare-boned as a love story comes.
The movie takes place over a summer, where a 15 year-old aspiring shoemaker meets an eccentric and mysterious 27-year old woman. Their backstories are hardly touched on, but the boy is seen as wise beyond his years, independent and seemingly forced to grow up prematurely. On the other hand, the woman is more aloof, and clumsy in behavior. She feels as if she’s unable to move past her youth, but reveals little else otherwise. As in other Shinkai films, the dialogue exchanged between the two characters is minimalistic, and for the most part, inconsequential. However, the frequency of silence is what best represents Shinkai’s abilities as a storyteller, and therein lies the significance of the movie’s title, “The Garden of Words”.
Despite being a character-driven story with first person narration, the movie devotes a great deal of time with scenic shots. Shinkai has drawn a fully realized yet enclosed setting, and the details he’s put into this literal garden are nothing short of gratuitous. Shots of a cicada shedding its shell, raindrops dancing on the surface of a pond, and a tree branch dipping into a lake boasts an almost over-bearing attention to detail, but these gratuities do more than show off Shinkai’s talents in animation. Due to the differences in age and personality between the characters, the garden is supposed to express what the characters themselves cannot – a “Garden of Words”. The two characters are all-too-happy to see rain (which is usually a heavy-handed symbol for sadness or isolation), because of the shelter that the garden provides and its ability to emotionally connect the two beyond words.
… Which leads us to one of the film’s biggest issues: a 46 minute runtime. While it wastes little of its prohibitive length with contemplative monologues of the characters’ ambitions and awe-inspiring displays of setting, a romance that’s fostered over silent meetings can feel superficial. Furthermore, the film’s climax is a sort of departure from Shinkai’s usual endings. Breaking the subtlety and slow pace at which the characters’ relationship develops, the film’s climax shows an uncharacteristically forceful and crude confrontation. As an outburst of emotion with a fair bit of yelling and crying, it’s less powerful than the silent, emotional climaxes of previous Shinkai films, but not awkward enough to be dismissed as melodrama. The film even ends with the same unrequited love as most of his previous works, but the lack of fulfillment didn’t share the same effectiveness as it did in 5 cm per second, being a lot less ambiguous yet ending with the same, physical distance between the two characters.
In the sound department, The Garden of Words consists mostly of ambience, with the exception of a handful of beautifully composed piano solos. Both were done with great effectiveness, with the sound of rain meticulously matching each droplet appearing in animation.
The Garden of Words is probably the most visually appealing anime I’ve watched, but story-wise, it may not be as memorable, nor can it avoid comparisons with Shinkai’s other works. That said, its subtleties in storytelling and flawless visuals makes it absolutely remarkable, and a veritable visual feast for fans of the romance genre.
Same creator(s), with absolutely stunning art/animation and a bittersweet love story.
Both movies are made by Makoto Shinkai. The stories are about Love that never became something more. The movies have amazing art ( NOT KIDDING) and beautiful soundtracks. In the movies there is not much talking.
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.
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)
Opening ThemeNo opening themes found, add themes.
Ending Theme"Rain" by Motohiro Hata
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Related ClubsKotonoha no Niwa, Recommendation Club, Age Gap RnD Department, ♥ Ecchi & Hentai ~♥~ Lovers ♥, Stand-Alone Movies/OVAs, Hanazawa Kana's Fans!, Romance+, Miyu Irino Fans!!, Anime Fun Club
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