ANIME & MANGA - Review
17:00 - 30th May 2014, by David West

The Garden Of Words

The Japanese phrase 'mono no aware' is one of those culturally specific idioms that is awfully hard to translate. Roughly, it means a sense of acceptance of the limitations and transience of life. Makoto Shinkai's latest film is suffused with 'mono no aware'. The story revolves around a 15-year-old student called Takao who wants to become a shoemaker. Whenever it rains, he doesn't go to school, but instead visits a park to work on his ideas in his sketchbook in peace and quiet. One rainy day, he meets a woman in her 20s who he assumes is skipping off from her job to drink beer in the park. While he doesn't know her name, they become friends as they always meet when it's raining, and Takao starts to fall for her.

After the engaging but flawed fantasy adventure of Journey To Agartha, Shinkai returns to top form with The Garden Of Words. The understated, sombre style recalls his earlier film 5 Centimetres Per Second. With a running time of just 47 minutes, Shinkai doesn't waste a single shot, and the film looks beautiful with meticulous attention to detail, from the ripples in a pond to the clutter of cables around the rail tracks. Travel is a recurring theme in the director's work and, as he did in 5 Centimetres, Shinkai creates parallels between physical and emotional journeys in this touching tale of first love.

The bittersweet story may be simple, but the telling is rich in depth and exquisitely realised.
SCORE: 5/5
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