Written by: Makoto Shinkai
Produced: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: May 31, 2013
The Garden of Words is a sad film full of sad characters whose sadness has left them immobilized and isolated from others. The main character, Akizuki, is a 15-year old boy whose life is in shambles--his parents are divorcing, his older brother (the sole stable figure in his life) is moving out of their apartment to live with a new girlfriend, and he will soon be on his own. His dream is to design and make shoes, but as a student living alone he is struggling to make ends meet with a part time job, and is unsure of his future...the tuition and materials for the vocational school he wants to attend are beyond his means. The only respite from the constant worry he seems to feel are the walks in the park he takes on mornings when it's raining.
Right away what I notice about this film is the slowness of its pacing, and the beautiful animation. The story moves slow, and the juxtaposed scenery between the hustle and bustle of city live and the oasis of the city gardens seems to be a character in its own rights. The animation is remarkable, from the strange angles and perspective it uses to tell the story, to the fantastically minute details the animators choose to focus on. Thankfully, since this is a story whose plot begins to depend on rain, the illustrations of water and rainfall are stunningly gorgeous.
|Hello indeed! This screen capture is beautiful, but it doesn't do credit to the water in motion in this film.|
|Akizuki's drawings of shoes.|
He is often seen stealing moments to draw and design.
Silence is an overwhelming theme in this film. Both characters are introspective and speak infrequently. In fact, as their rainy-day habits becomes a routine during the rainy season (both meeting in the morning at the same gazebo) they never even exchange names. Amid the silence their actions and hesitation becomes important, and slowly each learns more about the other's life...including their strengths and weaknesses. Each feels the keenness of loneliness, isolated from others by desire and circumstance--each is hiding in the shadow of the rain and shaded shelter from their worries. In their day-to-day lives each of them is frozen in a way...unable to move forward because they fear failure, or that their obstacles are too big to overcome. The woman (Yukini...we know her name before Akizuki does) seems especially broken, although by what we do not know until the end.
|Sunshower in Tokyo|
|Just wait another 10 years, I don't feel any smarter than when I was 9.|
Later he finds her crying at the gazebo, and she is shocked at what he's done. Thunder peals in the distance and he gives the answering Tanka to the one she recited when they first met: "A faint clap of thunder/even if rain comes not/ I'll stay here/ together with you."
Together they seem to find a happiness with one another, borne of the encouragement each provides. But each knows that the feelings of love and respect they have for one another are impossible. In order to move forward as individuals they must leave behind the one person who seems to give them strength. Although that person will forever be a silent motivation to them.
|This is a sad story.|
Just be sure to keep watching until the credits are over. (hint hint)