Review – The Garden of Words (Kotonoha no Niwa)

Above all else, this is absolutely gorgeous to look at, and is probably the best looking anime out there – and that is not an exaggeration. After watching this for the second time, I looked to see how many screenshots I had taken during the video – it turned out to be 262. When I tried to narrow those down for what to use here, I got it down to 179.

The Garden of Words was written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, best known as the creator of the anime movie 5 Centimeters Per Second / Byousoku 5 Centimeter.

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-20h35m31s32

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h23m31s113

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-21h15m07s198

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-21h59m33s11

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h19m37s78

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h21m07s210

The amount of work put into the visuals is absolutely astounding, resulting in a visual experience of pure bliss. During the 45 minute timespan of this movie, any given frame looks utterly fantastic. There’s a gallery of all of the screenshots I took at the end, and I highly recommend either looking through that or simply watching this as soon as possible. I really don’t need to say much about this category because it speaks for itself.

I had to do a double-take the first time I saw this screencap - I thought it was a photograph at first.

I had to do a double-take the first time I saw this screencap – I thought it was a photograph at first.

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h48m25s210

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h11m58s60

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h01m14s20

The main characters are Akizuki Takao, a high school student with an interest in making shoes, and Yukino Yukari, a working woman who spends her days eating chocolate and drinking beer in a park. The most interesting part of the anime is watching these two become closer, despite an almost ten year age gap, but the end result does appear a bit forced – if the movie were longer and there was more time to develop the relationship through more than simple chatting, it would have worked far better.

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h50m35s225

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h19m44s154

The side characters are mostly unimportant to the story, as the majority of interactions and development – as contrived and sudden as it may seem – happen between Yukari and Takao.

The weakest part of this anime is definitely the story, but it’s not quite bad either. There are no huge plot twists, nothing special really happens, and the ending feels quite melodramatic, but it does some things right.

The story seems to take a backseat to immersion in the visuals and the simplicity of light-hearted dialogue and progression through showing rather than telling. Rather than talking about what he’s done to practice shoe design and creation, it actually shows Takao making shoes and drawing out designs. Rather than talking about how she’s struggling from day-to-day, it actually shows Yukari watch the train leave without her.

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h13m00s162

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h17m00s48

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h23m24s51

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h21m42s48

Sound-wise, everything is great. The general sound of the anime is the ambient sounds of nature, in particular rain. The music is simple and piano-based, and rather than drawing attention it serves to support the general vibe of the anime.

The voice-acting is good, as the lead roles from Hanazawa Kana (Yukari) and Irino Miyu (Takao) are performed well and help to carry the conversations effortlessly.

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h22m56s22

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h24m08s235

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h25m11s92

vlcsnap-2014-01-12-22h24m52s156

Despite issues with the story and lack of proper character development, The Garden of Words is a visual and aural experience that should not be missed. Even if you aren’t a fan of anime, you should view this simply as a work of animation – because it is one of the best.

Story – 5/10
Art/Animation – 10/10
Sound – 8/10
Characters – 5/10
Enjoyment – 8/10

Overall – 8/10
Recommendation – Watch

Even if the story and characters are nothing amazing, this movie is worth watching for the visuals alone. It is absolutely stunning to look at, and if you’re like me the first time I watched it, you won’t be able to look away.

Did I mention that this looks pretty good?

Coming Soon™ – Zigaexperientia review, Shinsekai Yori review, other stuff, miscellaneous thoughts, etc.

Advertisements

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s