INTRO FEATURE: The Garden of Words Review: How To Walk in the Rain | Wesley Ge
Updated: Oct 27
"A faint clap of thunder
Perhaps rain comes
If so, will you stay here with me?"
--Yukino Yukari, The Garden of Words
We all create our own gardens with the people we love. Noises from the outside world cannot reach us, silence is pleasant, we can hope, dream, and love in that place of comfort.
"The Garden of Words" is a short Japanese romantic drama anime premiered in 2013 animated and directed by the legendary Makoto Shinkai best known for ``Your Name” and “Weathering with You”. It's a love story set in modern day Tokyo between Takao, a schoolboy with dreams of becoming a shoemaker and Yukino, a working woman with a strange palate for beer and chocolate. Not all love stories start in bright sunlit fields. Some start in the middle of solitude. Takao and Yukino both live in their own sunny, chaotic world but they desperately wait for heavy clouds where their worlds can intertwine.
A central theme of all Shinkai's films, The Garden of Words explores the unavoidable barrier between individuals, be it time, distance, or age. Shinkai frequently interrupts scenes with symbolic frames to represent emotions, most obviously the use of trains/railroads to represent separation and distance, and rain to set a tranquil atmosphere or represent intense forces/emotions.
The Garden of Words is not a typical love story: it's light and subtle, relying entirely on cinematography rather than dialogue. The cinematography is simply incredible, every scene is an animation masterpiece. The animation, specifically for water, was groundbreaking at the time, and despite current animation powerhouses like MAPPA and a decade of age, The Garden of Words remains iconic.
This anime tells a story about vulnerability and the need of others. Despite its age, this anime is still one of the best-animated movies with beautiful attention to detail and fluid movements. The music, like every aspect of the film, is light when it needs to be, but also intense and sudden during moments of passion. The Garden of Words is a short-length poetic slice-of-life and a great introduction to the SOL genre for anyone new to anime. Is it a simple tale of forbidden romance? Is it about loneliness, finding solace in companionship, or learning how to walk in the rain? The Garden of Words explores the visual and aesthetic language of love.
"A faint clap of thunder
Even if rain comes not
I will stay here
Together with you."
--Takao Akizuki, The Garden of Words