Garden of Words Review

Garden of Words is an animated film by Makoto Shinkai that came out in 2013. If you’re into anime then you would’ve heard of the 2016 film, Your Name. It’s been hailed as one of the greatest anime films ever made, even rivalling works of Hayao Miyazaki such as Spirited Away. I would have to agree, the film is quite spectacular. I’ve only seen three of his films, Children Who Chase Lost Voices and the two that I have mentioned. It seems that everything he didn’t handle so well in those movies, he nailed in Your Name. But we’re not here to talk about Your Name, we’re talking about Garden of Words.

I don’t understand the length of this movie, it’s only forty-five minutes. And I here people calling this a feature. There has to be something else that comes with this film if you go see it in cinemas. There must be a lot of special features in the Blu Ray.

Anyways, the film is about a boy that skips school on rainy days to draw shoes in a park bench…. And he’s got a thing for feet. Hey! I ain’t gonna kink shame. Well he does this for a few days, and every time, this lady sits on the same bench, devouring several bars of chocolate and cans of beer. Naturally, they start to converse, and converse they do, every time they see each other. Once the rain stops, he goes back to school, turns out the lady was a teacher and she was bullied by her students to the point where she insistently avoids her job. Things get complicated and I don’t really know how to explain it beyond this point. To be honest, I was having trouble explaining the rest of the film.

Alright, so there’s obviously a huge point that I have been avoiding, god, I should’ve picked another movie. The kid’s like fifteen and the lady’s like twenty-seven. If you asked me, the boy needs to get his arse back to school and never mention this again, EVER! And the lady, well she needs to skidaddle halfway across the face of the planet and plan a fake death and start over. It’s a good thing that the film handles it in a more safe and mature way, things don’t really go anywhere and there’s not a lot of romantic tension than there is friendship……… I don’t know, guy likes feet, and she eats Dairy Milk for breakfast, that’s the type of movie we’re talking about.

Then the last minute comes and you’re like, “Oh, he’s shouting, oh and look she’s crying, I suddenly care all of a sudden.”

So, this film’s got problems. Problems that, if it weren’t for one redeeming factor, could take away any value there is of seeing this movie. You don’t really care for the characters. There’s not a lot of context given to them except for their situation and we don’t really get to understand them, a movie’s got to let you know how these characters feel and think, but we only understand their emotions a tiny bit in select scenes, other times, they’re a bit cryptic. Which would be fine if it was any other type of film, but since this one is really grounded and not some sort of psychological thriller, there’s no need to play around, so now it just looks like these characters aren’t handled so well. They’re not really all that interesting either.

The dialogue is pretty vague and can mean anything for the characters, doesn’t help give them any depth or develop their personality further. This isn’t so for some lines, but it still doesn’t help and, dare I say it, they sound a little pretentious.

I can’t really say all that much for the music. It’s not anything special and does the job.

What’s especially disappointing is that the one aspect of this film that sets it apart from anything else is part of this movie. If only the rest of the film was handled better, then the film could’ve been a masterpiece that you could enjoy both ways.

Of course, I’m talking about the visuals, how could I not be talking about that? This film is hands down, the most stunning animated film I’ve ever seen. Now, I don’t mean that the animation is the best, but it’s still really good, but instead, how beautiful it looks. Backdrops have an immense amount of detail, photorealistic in some moments. Raindrops look like they themselves took the whole budget of any other film, but this level of quality is consistent and is evident throughout the film. I was also amazed at the way the film presented time of day and types of areas and the atmosphere provided with such places. Lighting was obviously a huge factor into achieving and it did indeed achieve the look. Most of the film took place in rainy days and, I realise that this might sound cheesy, I felt as if I was watching this on a rainy day.

This all helped for the film to feel grounded and tell a realistic story with realistic characters, even if they are boring. Just to see the characters adapt with the surroundings makes it easier for the viewer to set aside the fact that the film is animated and that they can’t possibly believe this story. The world it’s set in breathes its own life as if it’s a character in itself, like Neo Tokyo in Akira.

And that is why you should watch the film. The visuals are enough to provide an experience by itself and separates from the story. To be honest, I wouldn’t have such a problem with everything else if this wasn’t from the creator of Your Name and it wasn’t weighing the visuals down. Go see it if you’ve got forty-five minutes to kill and want to be mind blown by some sweet backdrops.

I forgot to mention that the English dub is surprisingly impressive, I didn’t think much of it till the last scene where I realised, holy moly that’s some voice acting.

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