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The Garden of Words

Jun 4, 2013

It really doesn't get much better than this. Makoto Shinkai has knocked this one out of the park--every time I watch one of his movies, I wonder if his art can get any better. Hold on to your hats, because somehow, every time, he manages to produce a work of quality that completely overshadows his earlier works.

And that, my friends, is no easy task.

*Spoiler Alert*

Story: Keeping it simple, the story is a bittersweet romantic tale of a boy who meets a stranger in the park on rainy mornings, when it is his rule to skip first period. He has a dream to become a shoemaker; she drinks beer, eats chocolate, and doesn't talk about herself. They fall in love, until late in the film we discover that she is actually a teacher at his school who has been bullied by students.

The tale is downright beautiful, especially their final argument and her confession, which leads to more resolution than love stories sometimes get in Japanese works.

Animation: I don't know that we actually need to discuss this. You know how pretty Iblard Jikan is? This is like that, except better.

Simply put, this is the absolute height of animation quality and I can't imagine how gorgeous it would be on a big screen. Lighting, subtle motions like rain falling on a pond & light spilling over the horizon, extremely natural human motion, and uber detailed, textured, and dimensional landscapes are just a few of the goodies you will encounter in the eye candy department. It manages to be both crisp and soft and completely amazing.

Sound: Again, beautiful and natural, both in music and in voice acting.

Characters: Simple and believable, and relatable. The characters' situations bring up really meaty human questions about the value of school and work, education as a path to achievement, and how difference in status can affect a romance.

Overall: If you like anime at all and are a human being with emotions, this piece is not to be missed. If you are a robot (or a cynic), you might not like the story, but the animation is totally worth 46 minutes of your time.

9/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
9/10 characters
9.9/10 overall
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Minai99 Sep 24, 2013

Also I should mention that I just watched the english dub for Garden of Words. In some ways it's not quite as quality as the original sub, but in other ways I found it to be an above average dub that managed to convey some things more clearly than the sub translations, anyways. The only downfall really is that Yukino's voice actress is practically inaudible at points, especially during the confrontation. 

Minai99 Sep 24, 2013

Nice review, Snivets! It's both succinct and entertaining. The animation is truly amazing, beating out just about any other show I've seen; at the same time I wonder just how much cgi was used in creating it. As you know from our conversations, I loved this anime as well, although I'm still a bit ambivalent about a few things. I actually just finished my 6th time watching this, and unfortunately the people who I've shown it to haven't appreciated it nearly as much as I have, with reactions ranging from "that was boring" to "meh" to "good", but never really a strong "yes that was amazing!" reaction. Nevertheless I'm happy to see that it has a high rating on, and I'm interested in watching how opinions develop about it over time. Two things that I have to disagree with a bit about are the music and the voice acting. The music was overall pleasant, although, in my personal opinion anyways, it felt a bit out of place at times. And sadly in the final confrontation, I found Yukino's voice actress to be way too shrill; it made me cringe a bit instead of bringing me quite to tears. I'm also still thinking a lot about exactly what their relationship is with each other, what their potential future is, and what the ultimate theme behind it is, every time I watch it. I felt like the movie could have benefited from just a bit more run time and exploration into Yukino's issues, although the boy's story felt pretty fleshed out.