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Theatrical poster sourced from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Garden_of_Words

Theatrical poster sourced from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Garden_of_Words

The Garden of Words may be Makoto Shinkai’s best film although I’m still not sure if I liked it.

The Garden of Words is an intimate character piece that treats the main characters with compassion and respect. This is essential given that both of the leads have been somewhat damaged by their lives prior to start of the story, this is a story of lost souls seeking to find themselves.

Even the degree of animation is a reflection on the characters: it is the locations most important to the characters that receive Makoto Shinkai’s trademark attention to detail. Other scenes are less detailed, somewhat more traditional anime in nature, and I felt that this was a nice touch.

The story flows well, and never loses its focus. In this alone The Garden of Words is a big improvement on The Children Who Chase Lost Voices or The Place Promised in Our Early Days. I think that the shorter length of 46 minutes [1] probably has something to do with this since there wasn’t room for the story to wander off course.

As mentioned above The Garden of Words is also an exceptionally pretty film to look at, which is only to be expected from Makoto Shinkai.

There are also some social issues such as bullying and the damage done by gossip touched on in the film, and this is also handled fairly deftly in the scripting.

The problem lies in the nature of the film’s core relationship; I personally find that suspending disbelief over that sort of age difference to be difficult at best.

Overall I think that The Garden of Words is worth seeing at least once and preferably on a big screen.  I’m not sure if I’ll buy the local release (if and when), but at the moment I’m leaning towards not.



[1] The short length is why The Garden of Words was double billed with Ghost in the Shell: Arise for the Reel Anime 2013 season.  Arise was OK, but I probably won’t write a review of it.