“When Takao, a young high school student who dreams of becoming a shoe designer, decides to skip school one day in favour of sketching in a rainy garden, he has no idea how much his life will change when he encounters Yukino. Older, but perhaps not as much wiser, she seems adrift in the world. Despite the difference in their ages, they strike up an unusual relationship that unexpectedly continues and evolves, without planning, with random meetings that always occur in the same garden on each rainy day. But the rainy season is coming to a close, and there are so many things still left unsaid and undone between them. Will there be time left for Takao to put his feelings into actions and words? Between the raindrops, between the calms in the storm, what will blossom in the garden of words?”
[Text from the dvd cover]
>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<
In an ode to the rain, Makoto Shinkai is offering us an exquisitely beautiful anime telling the story of the infatuation of a teenager for a woman nearly twice his age. Together, somehow, they will find a way — in their innocent and platonic relationship — to heal each other of their sentiments of alienation and doubt that is plaguing them. At the beginning of his life, he is uncertain of the path to follow. She is a young teacher bullied by her students to the point of having health problems.
They are brought together in a park by the rain and by poetry. In the beginning, Yukari recite a Waka / Tanka from Man’yōshū (Book 11, verse 2,513): “A faint clap of thunder / Clouded skies / Perhaps rain comes / If so, will you stay here with me?” Later, finally understanding was she said, Takao respond with the following verse (Book 11, verse 2,514): “A faint clap of thunder / Even if rain comes not / I will stay here / Together with you”…
It is impossible not to like a Makoto Shinkai movie. Beside a storytelling that is cute, nostalgic, thoughtful and poetic, we finds nice music and, above all, superb CG animation. The background art is so realistic that, in contrast, the standard animation of the character seems a little odd. It is a short movie but all the more excellent. Highly recommended.
The anime was adapted into a manga (illustrated by Midori Motohashi) serialized in Monthly Afternoon (June-December 2013) and published in Japan as a single volume by Kodansha, in English by Vertical (Oct. 2014, 220 pages, $12.95, ISBN 978-1-939130-83-9) and in French by Kazé (Déc. 2014, 208 pages, ISBN 978-2-82031-879-4). It was also adapted into a light novel serialized in Da Vinci (September 2013 – April 2014) and published in Japan by Media Factory (Kadokawa Shoten) and in France by Kazé (2014, 380 pages, ISBN 978-2-82031-880-0).
The Garden of Words (言の葉の庭 / Kotonoha no Niwa), Japan, 2013, 46 mins; Dir./Scr./Ed.: Makoto Shinkai; Char. Des.: Kenichi Tsuchiya; Art dir.: Hiroshi Takiguchi; Studio: CoMix Wave Films; Prod.: Noritaka Kawaguchi; Cast: Kana Hanazawa / Maggie Flecknoe (Yukari Yukino), Miyu Irino / Blake Shepard (Takao Akizuki), Fumi Hirano / Shelley Calene-Black (Takao’s mother), Takeshi Maeda / Crash Buist (Shōta, Takao’s brother), Yuka Terasaki / Brittney Karbowski (Rika, Shōta’s girlfriend), Suguru Inoue / Mike Yager (Matsumoto), Megumi Han / Allison Sumrall (Satō), Mikako Komatsu / Hilary Haag (Aizawa). Available on bilingual Dvd/Blu-Ray from Sentai Filmworks and currently streaming on Netflix.
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