Japanese animator Makoto Shinkai writes, directs, and edits the 2013 anime short film ‘The Garden of Words.’ It is animated by CoMix Wave Films, distributed by Toho, and translated for American audiences by Sentai Filmworks. The story is based on a manga by the same name published by Kodansha also written by Shinkai.
Takao Akizuki (Patrick Poole, Blake Shepard as young Takao in flashbacks) is a Japanese teen living in Tokyo who wants to become a cobbler. His older brother (Crash Buist) gives him a hard time over his dream, poking fun at him for designing women’s shoes when he has no girlfriend and their mother (Shelley Calene-Black) is an alcoholic. As the rainy season begins, Takao decides to skip school. He heads to Shinjuku Gyoen park where he takes refuge in a garden gazebo. He runs into a twentysomething woman named Yukari Yukino (Maggie Flecknoe) who is drinking beer and eating chocolate. They strike up a conversation and soon each starts looking forward to seeing each other.
This is a charming, heartwarming story about loneliness and finding someone that you can be lonely with. While some critics did what they do best and criticized its climax. I disagree. I thought the movie flowed well and was done tastefully, with fully developed characters. The fact that it is so short and tells such an emotional plot is a credit to Shinkai’s talent as a storyteller. It touches on the desire to be heard and wanting someone to understand your hopes and dreams. In that regard, it does an excellent job of capturing these themes.
On the animation front, most everyone agreed. It is amazing. The character designs, the backgrounds, and the colors are some of the best I have seen. It is beautiful and stunning with some of the most talented animated sequences I have ever seen. They help evoke the emotions and tones perfectly.
Bottom line, this a charming, delightful, and visually stunning story that has a lot to say on the subject of loneliness and how to find someone who understands you.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Mild thematic elements, Brief violence, Some foul language
FAVORITE QUOTE: In the evenings, before I went to sleep, and in the mornings, in the moment I woke up, I realized I was praying for rain
Check out the trailer below:
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