When Takao, a young high school student who dreams of
becoming a shoe designer, decides to skip school one day in favor of sketching
in a rainy garden, he has no idea how much his life will change when he
encounters Yukino. Older, but perhaps not as much wiser, she seems adrift in
the world. Despite the difference in their ages, they strike up an unusual
relationship that unexpectedly continues and evolves, without planning, with
random meetings that always occur in the same garden on each rainy day. But
the rainy season is coming to a close, and there are so many things still left
unsaid and undone between them. Will there be time left for Takao to put his
feelings into actions and words? Between the raindrops, between the calms in
the storm, what will blossom in THE GARDEN OF WORDS? Like many
15-year-olds, Takao Akizuki, the hero of director-screenwriter Makoto
Shinkai’s featurette The Garden of Words (2013), feels trapped in high school.
On rainy days, he cuts his morning classes to sit in a park modeled on
Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo. Sheltered in a pavilion, he draws and dreams of
becoming a designer/shoemaker. One morning he meets an “older woman,” 27-year-
old Ms. Yukino, who seems as lost and directionless as he is. A curious
friendship develops between the two misfits. At 44 minutes, The Garden of
Words suggests the anime equivalent of a short story. In his earlier, longer
films–Voices of a Distant Star (2003), The Place Promised in Our Early Days
(2004), Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011)–Shinkai combined a lyrical
visual sense with a frustrating inability to present a story with a satisfying
beginning, middle, and end. The shorter form allows him to focus on evoking
the atmosphere of the rainy Japanese spring and summer: the camera lingers on
spattering droplets, reflections in puddles, dripping leaves, flowing streams.
But neither Takao nor Yukino emerge as fully realized as their surroundings,
and Takao’s bitter outburst when Yukino rejects his fumbling expression of
affection comes out of nowhere. Although The Garden of Words ranks as
Shinkai’s most satisfying work to date, the viewer can’t help wishing he would
find a writer-collaborator who would give him a script worthy of his
directorial talent. (Rated TV 14 D: alcohol and tobacco use, profanity)
- Actors: Maggie Flecknoe, Patrick Poole
- Directors: Makoto Shinkai
- Format: Animated, Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
- Language: Japanese
- Subtitles: English
- Dubbed: English
- Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Rated: PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned
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