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Mar 15

Movie March – The Garden of Words

Singin’ in the rain~

Movie March rolls on into The Garden of Words, or Kotonoha no Niwa, to use its Japanese title. The latest film from anime director and legend in the making Makoto Shinkai, whose previous works include Children Who Chase Lost Voices and 5 Centimeters Per Second (which was shown by Jake a few months ago, you might remember it as the very pretty one), to say people had high hopes for this when it debuted last year is somewhat of an understatement. But did it live up to them? Well, lets find out…

The first thing I need to say before plot, is that Shinkai is infamous for making pretty pieces, and that’s not a trend changing anytime soon. Watching this in crystal clear 1080p was an utter delight. Stills truly can’t do it justice, but that won’t stop them trying.

He even makes pencil drawings look stunning and natural

The amount of times in my notes I wrote down how pretty some angle or scene looked and how I should use it in this is insane. It is, without a doubt, the prettiest animated feature I’ve ever seen, bar none. Ghibli and Disney have nothing on this. The animation is sumptuous and fluid from beginning to end, be it for wide city shots, people mingling in the city or the rain endlessly falling from above.

In fact, rain is one of the key points of this entire film. The film starts on the cusp of the rainy season, and revolves around our two main characters meeting in the park on rainy mornings, skipping school and work to be there.

Most of the story is shown from the perspective of our male lead, Takao. A 15 year old boy in middle school, his life matches the weather somewhat. With his parents separated and both his mother and brother moving out to live with their other halves, it’s up to him to go through the rigours of school, chores and part-time jobs just to sustain himself and his hobby. Takao wants to make shoes when he’s older, and spends a lot of time and effort crafting them, to little improvement, also having a knock-on effect on his school grades.

Yukari, on the other hand, is his elder, a woman versed in the harsh realities of the real world at only 27. Constantly skipping work to hang out in the rain-soaked park, with little bar beer and chocolate to keep her going, she is always clearly shouldering some great sadness but is willing to support her new acquaintance.

And so the story unfolds, with both learning more about the other and the circumstances that leave them to skip their respective jobs in life to be in the park on rainy mornings (besides to see each other as it rapidly becomes). They become more friendly and support each other as their lives slowly entwine.

Its only really in the second half of the movie, as the rainy season comes to an end and the two suddenly drift apart that the story kicks it up a gear, showing more and more from Yukari’s perspective as you learn exactly who she is and the nature of their relationship. I’d say more but I feel that’d be spoiling it.

And with the film only clocking in at 45 minutes, it doesn’t drag nor require a large investment of time. It’s perfectly paced, from plot to montage and back again. Speaking of which, the music utilised throughout the film also hits the mark perfectly, helping to take the story and visuals to yet another level. The “theme” song of the movie, Rain by Motohiro Hata, also perfectly fits the events of the film.

There’s little more I need to say really. Shinkai wanted to make a film about the traditional meaning of love in Japanese, the longing for somebody solitary or lonely sadness, and in those terms there’s no better demonstration. This is certainly not a film for those with ADD or whom want to see perversion every other minute, heck, in one scene a sudden shower leaves them both soaked and there’s not one “oh look her shirts gone see-through” moment, to my immense relief.

Certainly, there are some people who just won’t get it, like our friend who walked out while 5 Centimeters was showing, but if you think of animation as an artform or just want to watch a touching story of the lives of two people and how they help each other, then I whole-heartedly recommend checking this out, followed by the rest of Shinkai’s work if you haven’t already. Between him and Hosoda, the post-Miyasaki anime industry has nothing to fear.

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Halfway through the month! Got a request of a movie you’d like to see featured? Or maybe you want to write an article yourself? Then get in with touch with myself, Reaf or one of the committee. Or you could tweet us, or write on the Facebook, or post on the forums! Otherwise its Sean having free reign and have you seen his film folder recently…