Living, Animated: Questionable – A Review of Garden of Words (2013)

When you start to have interest in something, you want to have a baseline of what’s good and what’s bad in general tastes.

I’ve always had an interest in Japanese animation, otherwise known as Anime, but never quite knew where to start.

I mean, sure, you can say Ghost in the Shell and Akira, but even the most cursory dive into anime makes you realize that these are just two examples in a plethora of different types of anime.

In fact, unlike animation in the United States, a lot of drama, comedy and coming of age stories are some of the best anime.

But I started with a simple question: “What anime has the best animation?”

One name kept popping up though: Makato Shinkai

No matter what, his anime would show up as most beautiful. To a point where threads would show up with the same question…but no Shinkai. Because that would be too obvious.

So, naturally, I decided that I should see his films. The first one I watched, I’ll discuss in the next post.

The second one was Garden of Words, his 2013 Japanese Animated Drama.

The story is about two people who meet when it rains in Kyoto at a Japanese garden: Takao and Yukino. Takao is a high school student who’s barely squeaking by, while Yukino is an older woman obviously despondent over something in her life.

The story tells a moving, if not morally questionable, yarn about these two people.

The eventual conclusion to the 50 minute piece is heartwarming, to say the least. But doesn’t quite pack the emotional punch that it was trying to reach.

Namely, the whole dynamic falls apart but builds itself back within a minute of it being completely destroyed.

It works, but it’s done in an awkward, kind of unbelievable way.

Some will read this and say “You just don’t get the culture” (Maybe), but the overall arc just felt a little off. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, it just didn’t grab me.

But the One Thing You Should Know About The Garden of Words Is:

This movie is God Damned Beautiful.

Do yourself a favor: Even if you don’t even have a slight interest in this, or anime in general, watch the trailer on YouTube.

It’s astounding what Shinkai and team were able to do with their pens and colors.

The rain looks incredibly beautiful and realistic. Foliage looks green, vibrant and stunning. Even the animation just seems so richly fluid.

It is the truest form of eye candy I have ever seen in an animated feature.

That includes one of my favorite movies of all time: Spirited Away.

That included many animation fans’ favorite movies: Princess Mononoke.

This alone would have me recommend the movie to anyone who hasn’t seen it. Just watching this movie is simply incredible.

Hell, watching with the sound off, I can still recommend watching this film.

The visuals are that damn good.

So, yes, I recommend that animation fans from any walk of life to watch this movie. It’s just breathtaking on a visual scale to see such minute details be created with such a deft touch.

Do I recommend others to watch it aside from the visuals? Yes, but I will say that the angle this anime goes to is questionable, but it works in the end.

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