One to Watch: The Garden of Words (2013)
The short-but-sweet precursor to Your Name is not to be missed…
With Makoto Shinkai’s seventh feature on the way and likely to be nothing short of spellbinding, it’s the perfect time to take a look at one of the films that turned the indie animator into the industry legend he is today.
Released just a few years before his masterpiece Your Name and clocking in at only 46 minutes long, The Garden of Words is an entry in Shinkai’s filmography that might be easy to overlook – but it’s this beautifully-animated film in which the director refined the visual style and tone that makes his recent work so endlessly immersive.
Rather than seeking to offer clear-cut answers or a satisfying conclusion, this is a film of pure atmosphere and feeling
The story follows a teenager named Akizuki falling in love with Yukino, an older woman he frequently sees at a local park on rainy days, and Shinkai approaches this topic with sensitivity and poignant realism. Yukino – a social outsider struggling with the harsh realities of adult life – finds solace in Akizuki’s youthful optimism, but realises she must cut ties with her unlikely new friend when he begins to fall in love with her.
Rather than seeking to offer clear-cut answers or a satisfying conclusion, this is a film of pure atmosphere and feeling. A breathtaking level of detail is applied to the dewy, viridian setting, which helps the film’s conclusion to reach similar emotional highs to the likes of Your Name and Weathering with You in under an hour. It’s a wondrous feat, and one that would kick off one of the most impressive cinematic hat-tricks of the past ten years.