Takao, who is training to become a shoemaker, skipped school and is sketching shoes in a Japanese-style garden. He meets a mysterious woman, Yukino, who is older than him. Then, without arranging the times, the two start to see each other again and again, but only on rainy days.
Exhausting almost all of the Studio Ghibli movies, I started browsing a bit amongst YouTube trailers for some anime movies. This movie caught my attention; the trailer looked gorgeous, the movie artsy, and the premise intriguing. I recently got around to watching, in part because the movie is pretty short (capping at about 46 minutes including the credits (more on that after the cut)).
The Garden of Words is a beautiful movie, capturing the busy-ness of life and the crush of people in the big city and balancing it with the quiet calmness of the parks and garden. The art is amazing outside a few CGI captures, especially when it comes to the rain coming down and forming puddles, dripping off leaves and umbrellas and rooftops. It’s beautiful, and also pretty melancholic, reflecting the respective headspaces that Takao and Yukino are in when the viewer is introduced to them. I love how much these characters love the rain and how it sets the mood on their every encounter, but man I hate the rain. Well, I like the rain: when I’m inside. But strolling out in the rain? Yes, no thank you. But I digress…
The introduction of Takao, then Yukino, the unfolding and development of their relationship underneath that special gazebo on rainy days, progresses like reading a novella. You see snapshots of the times they spend together, but you begin to see how much their meet ups and their growing relationship means to them, how their interaction drives them in their work, in whatever problems they are undergoing. These are two lonely people who have found solace in each other, and have opened up to each other, moreso Takao than Yukino, but we see her gradual change in her own way. I really felt for Yukino, in part because we are in similar age, but also with everything she’s going through and how she’s struggling to get back on her feet again.
But of course there’s always something that comes in the way of a potential romance; I should’ve known what it was–there was a bit of foreshadowing at the beginning, and when the reveal was made, I was like O_O, “Was not expecting that”. It did get a bit much at the end with the confrontation/argument. Thematically, I appreciate it because they are both upfront about their thoughts and what they are feeling, but watching it, it felt veering right into melodrama; I cringed. But hey, that’s life, emotions can be ugly, there is ugly crying, and it does have them confront each other’s feelings fully for the first time. But the ending was quite satisfying; there’s no other way I can explain it except after watching their months together, it just made sense. And it’s hopeful, so there’s that 🙂 I should note, be sure to watch right through to the end of the credits as there is an ending to the story.
The music by Daisuke Kashiwa was perfect by the way, really accompanies the art and visuals and the overall mood of the story. And the end credits song, “Rain” sang by Motohiro Hata, was stuck in my head for a while after I finished watching the movie.
Overall, as my first Makoto Shinkai movie, I enjoyed watching The Garden of Words. It’s short but the characters and their respective journeys was pretty fleshed out, poignant, and interesting. I have his other movie, Children Who Chase Lost Voices on my wishlist, and hope to get around to it at some point. I recommend this movie if you’re looking for something short but poignant.