The Garden of Words Review — A-


More gorgeous Makoto Shinkai cloud porn.


GuardianEnzo explained my fascination with Makoto Shinkai perfectly in his own post, so let me quote him:

Like so many great artists, what I think really sets Shinkai apart is his vision. What do I mean by that?  Quite literally, as with someone like Monet, the true genius is in how he sees the world.  Shinkai somehow has an innate ability to look at a place or object and see the essence of what makes that thing unique, special and beautiful…

That’s the same feeling I get out of Shinkai’s films. Some people go searching for beauty, traveling to exotic locales halfway around the world. But beauty isn’t in how something is; it’s in how you see it. Shinkai sees how beautiful the mundane, ordinary things of this world are: clouds, rain, shadows, trains, and the strangers you walk past every day. Shinkai’s films help the viewer realize this.


The Garden of Words is a love story between a student and an older woman, and shares a similar bittersweet feel to his other works but in a more concise form. It’s beautiful.

My only complaint, and the reason that I gave it an A- rather than a solid A, is that the film tried to go out with a bang when it really ought to have gone out with a whimper. The two lovers embrace and this pumped up, cheerful music starts playing. It’s a happy moment, for sure. But not much has changed. All their problems are still on the table. The music did not match the moment, and that was the final thought the film left me with.


But still, a beautiful film. Highly recommended.

  • Storytelling – A – Despite the age gap, managed to convincingly sell their relationship.
  • Voice – A – Clouds, rain, Shinkai’s unique feel.
  • Characters – A – Poured more into these two characters in 45 minutes than most shows manage to do in 26 episodes.
  • Attention Grab – A – Perfect length to match the story.
  • Production – A+ – It’s Makoto Shinkai.
  • Overall – A-

Recommendations – The Place Promised in Our Early Days, Hotarubi no Mori e

9 thoughts on “The Garden of Words Review — A-

  1. Now I’m waiting for the ultimate dream come true: Makoto Shinkai doing Mori Kaoru’s Otoyomegatari. It’s like Scene/Costume/Historical Visual Porn in Motion. @_@

    1. I mean, if they used the Manga’s incredibly stunning detail of costumes, decorations and backgrounds… with the fluidness of Shinkai’s anime and cloud porn. Add the fact that it’s a Historical slice of life… I want to see that happening so bad… we need more historical anime that doesn’t try to fetishize the whole thing. @_@

  2. Shinkai gained my attention from on of his early works, Voice of a Distant Star, which is graphically stunning today, not to mention its release in 2002. Most of his works after kept two themes, the triple A visuals and relationship between the protagonists.

    This is one of the more cheerful works, but I see a high resemblance to this ending and the manga ending for 5cm.

    1. Haven’t read the manga version of 5 cm / s, but as you say the themes and relationships are very similar to his other works. Nothing wrong with that, I wish more anime would tackle more difficult themes like his instead of beating the “be yourself” and “have friends” ideas to death for the thousandth time.

  3. You know it’s always occurred to me that Makoto Shinkai has a poet’s soul. I think his fans are the ones who are touched deeply by his vision, like Enzo put it. I think to really enjoy a Shinkai film, you need to have that appreciation for poetry, or art for beauty’s sake. Just a thought.

    1. Perhaps. Honestly, I don’t understand how anyone who has seen his films can not be a fan. Either you have to have never fallen in love or be too young to have seen all your hopes and dreams fall to pieces. And most importantly you have to hate pictures of clouds. Inconceivable.

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