The Garden of Words Review: Makoto Shinkai’s Most Beautiful Film.

4 stars
Aside from Your Name, the Mokoto Shinkai film I have heard the most praise for is The Garden of Words.
And, with me quickly becoming a Shinkai fan after loving both Your Name and his most recent film, Weathering With You, I knew I had to check it out.
Now, when I started watching, I was surprised at the short runtime the film, which is only 46 minutes, but my concern about this quickly faded with the first few shots of the film.
It was at this moment when my jaw hit the literal floor.
I know that I, and many others, have said way too much that the animation of Shinkai’s films are jaw dropping but, honestly, that statement is entirely warranted when it comes to The Garden of Words.
I would go as for to say that this film is not just Shinkai’s most beautifully animated film but one of the most beautifully animated films I have ever seen.
It is so amazing that I actually mistook a shot of a branch hanging over the water to be real initially.

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Does this look real to you? Because it did for me for a couple seconds.

But enough gushing about the animation; what about the story?
Well, it could have been very easy for The Garden of Words to stumble with this.
The anime follows a 15-year-old student named Takao Akizuki (Wataru Sekine) who meets a 27-year-old teacher named Yukari Yukino (Kana Hanazawa) at a lakeside garden in the rain.
The two begin to meet in the same place whenever it rains and Takao soon begins to develop feelings for Yukari.
This could easily have made the film weird for me.
If you read my review of Violet Evergarden, you know the only problem I had was that the relationship between the titular character and her love interest, Gilbert was pretty problematic due to the fact that Violet is only 14, and Gilbert is 29.
I could have easily had the same problem with The Garden of Words, considering that Takao is both a year older than Violet and also that Yukari is a teacher at his school.
Thankfully, though, I did not find the depiction of Takao’s feelings for Yukari to be problematic because Shinkai depicted them as that, problematic.
The problems of the connection the two have is perfectly portrayed by Yukari’s sad past, which should leave those watching who support a romance between the two knowing that if that did happen it would make trouble for both of them.
As a result, The Garden of Words depicts a somewhat tragic romance story that fully realizes and plays into its complicated nature.

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The growing bond between Takao and Yukari is sweet, endearing, and (thankfully) complicated.

Coming back to the short runtime of the film, I think it would be interesting to see what the anime would be like if it had been longer.
It works fine as it is but I feel like I could have related to the characters and their struggles more if Shinkai had extended the runtime a bit more and given us more scenes between the two.
Still, The Garden of Words is another great Shinkai film, and one with such a focus on feet that it made me feel like I watching a Tarantino movie… only, you know, without the bloody violence.
And, while I do not find it as enjoyable or moving as Your Name or Weathering With You, its animation is absolutely spectacular.
If you like to analyse the standards of animation you need to watch The Garden of Words because (even though this has been said to death by this point) your jaw will hit the floor.

Weathering With You Review: A Beautiful Anime, Even if it is a Bit too Similar to Your Name.

4 and a half stars
After seeing Makoto Shinkai’s fantastic Your Name, I immediately bought a ticket to his next film Weathering With You, which I had the pleasure of watching last night.
And, yes, I said pleasure because Weathering With You is another great film from Shinkai.
While I did not feel as emotionally involved as I did when watching Your Name, I still cannot deny that Weathering With You is a mesmerizing film with amazing animation, relatable characters, and an intriguing story.

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Mokoto Shinkai has done it again, delivering another great anime film with Weathering With You. 

The story follows Hodaka Morishima (Kotara Daigo), a high school student who runs away to live in Tokyo, which is experiencing an unusually long sequence of rainfall and storms.
It is there that he meets Hina Amano (Nana Mori), a girl with the power to make the sun come out through prayer.
What follows is a moving romance between the pair as they work together to bring sunshine to the people of Tokyo.
The first thing I have to praise about Weathering With You is, of course, its incredible animation.
Shinkai is an absolute artist when it comes to animating his films and Weathering With You is no exception, having numerous jaw dropping shots of animation.
The way the rain and sun look in this anime is just gorgeous, which serves to bring the audience into the story a lot more.

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The animation of Weathering With You is fantastic and needs to be seen in theaters.

As for the story itself, the romance of Hodaka and Hina being wrapped up in this supernatural plot provides numerous interesting and moral questions about climate change that I found to be quite compelling.
The movie is also pretty funny as well, with probably my favourite gag being the cat Rain’s constant judgmental looks.
The side characters of the film are also likeable and you understand where a lot of them are coming from.
For example, a man that Hodaka meets upon arriving in Tokyo, named Keisuke Suga (Shun Oguri), had an interesting motivation by the film’s third act that, while never outright stated, was heavily implied, making his involvement more interesting.

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The implied nature of Suga’s arc in the third act made his role in the story work perfectly.

The music is also great with the song “Grand Escape”, which played in the trailer, being particularly special.
There are even appear a few Your Name cameos for fans of that film as well.
Speaking of Your Name, though, this is where I have a problem with Weathering With You because it follows a lot of the same story beats as Shinkai’s previous film.
I remember sitting in the theater and thinking, this is just like Your Name!
This did not ruin the experience but it was pretty noticeable by the film’s third act and ending.
Still, I found Weathering With You to be another great Shinkai film, and is one I would highly suggest watching in theaters so you can see the gorgeous animation on the big screen.
It is my favourite animated film of the year so far.