I've been looking forward to Garden of Wal- I mean Words for quite some time now. By the now quite famous Makoto Shinkai and his studio CoMix Wave. I've always enjoyed the visual aspect of his films and this certainly doesn't disappoint. However it is quite lacking in other departments.
Story- To sum it up shortly the story is about the relationship between a younger boy and an older women. While it is somewhat different from the average romance drama, it still has it's problems. If anything I think the story suffers most from the movies rather short run time. The film is only about 46 minutes long, well more like 40 if you cut out the end credits. I feel like there could have been a lot more development for both of the main characters if the film had a longer run time. We are only given hints and exposition for what happened in the past, concerning the affairs of the teacher and her mental trauma. Also another problem I had was the whiplash in pacing. While some scenes are very deliberate and slow others are pretty much just montages and timeskips showing the main characters moving forward in time and "developing" their relationship. The slow scenes that were there were nice, but the sudden time skips and montages just made me feel like they were trying to move the story forward too quickly just because of it's run time.
Animation- No complaints here. Animation is just brilliant as expected by Shinkai and CoMix Wave. Everything down from the rain drops falling to the ground to just tap water and how food looks. They really payed attention to close details in this anime. The colors of the shadows and light even change due to the scenery with green shadows near green trees and bushes and pink near the sakura trees and yellow under the blinding sun. The character designs were realistic while still not betraying the classic anime style and Shinkai's personal style and the animation is as fluid as it is beautiful. Perhaps the reason why the run time got cut was because they simply couldn't keep up this animation for the full 1h 20 mins of a normal movie, but this is just a guess and still no excuse for the problems with the plot.
Sound- The music in this anime is simple, mostly just piano melodies, but they do their job well enough. The ending theme is "Rain" by Motohiro Hata, it's no "One more time, one more chance", but it is a nice song and it suits the theme of the movie well. Voice acting was very well done for the most part. The two main character had great performances, but the side characters did not noticebly stand out to me.
Characters- Another problem I had with this anime. Now I'm not against "Love at first sight", but I'm thinking maybe you should try to get her name after the first time meeting... Takao, the main character is decent enough, but he seems to not exactly be there all the time. As the teacher says hes more or less "in his own world". While this isn't necessarity a bad thing, his "own world" consists mostly of cheesy inner monologues, rain and... possibly a fetish for feet? Or it might just be that he makes shoes. The female lead Yukino (Takao doesn't figure out her name until more than halfway into the movie) is more of less the archetype for the mysterious female character. Even as we learn more about her, it isn't until right at the end of the movie that we see her steely exterior show some cracks. Also she seems to have a penchant for lying, or rather concealing the truth, but I don't think is a favorable trait in characters that your trying to make the audience sympathize with.
Overall- Now I'm not saying this is a bad movie, far from it actually. I do think the story and characters could have been far better developed though. I really enjoyed this movie for the visual aspect, so I wasn't disappointed in the least. However if you are looking for a good story then this may not meet your expectations. But by all means watch this movie, it is a great way to kill 46 minutes and if anything you'll probably get some nice wallpapers out of it :P