The Garden of Words – a review

There is something about Shinkai Makoto’s works that moves my heart.


Maybe it’s the amazing artwork and animation render quality. Perhaps it’s the simplistic story concept that takes everyone’s breath away. Or maybe it’s just because the music sews everything perfectly. I couldn’t find one specific reason of my addiction towards Shinkai Makoto’s works, and I am content to announce that I don’t even care why.

What matters is–to me–the fact that he has something in his movies that teaches me to expect something; a different point of view from even the smallest trickle of raindrop above the foliage.

There’s no denying his expertise in delivering visual effects and pleasing displays. The animation feels robust, with the addition of real world montages to make everything seems more real. You can see everything, from the ripples of raindrop to the ray of sunlight that pierces through the greyed out landscape of the city.


The title of this movie is Garden of Words, or Kotonoha no Niwa in its native language.

The story revolves around a 15 years old young man and a woman in her late 20s. They met by chance in Shinjuku-gyoen when it was raining one day. The man sheltered himself from the harsh rain while occasionally stealing glances at the older woman’s figure, constantly admiring the way she gulped down a can of beer and dozens of chocolate bars. Here, we understand that there was something in her odd behavior that pulled him in.

Eventually, they talked to each other and finally became friends. It was such a curious relationship, where the young man, who happens to be an aspiring shoe maker, brought his lunch boxes and treated the woman to breakfasts every time it rains.


Before long, this morning ritual became so natural that they actually looked forward to it. A curious, shoemaker wannabe and a career woman whose background was unknown, meeting up in the park when the sky cast its tears to the earth… I couldn’t resist myself to admire the relationship between the two; a relationship where name or background was not important–where only the existence of themselves mattered.

The story picked up pace quickly afterwards. I got to see something amazing in the way both of the characters developed. I was pleased with the development, of course, and even though I realized the Chekhov’s Gun of the story halfway, which immediately reduced the effectiveness of the plot twist significantly, I still enjoyed the movie through and through.


Sound-wise, I loved the piano ballad / instrumental they played during some pivotal scenes in the movie. The timbre of the music soothed my soul, and it evoked different kinds of emotions, depending on the scenes. Combined with the impressive visuals and pure, touching story, the music became such a powerful arsenal that could boost up Kotonoha no Niwa’s sales.

I received something from watching this movie. I’d like to believe it made me a better human, with better perception skill, and better understanding of the world we’re living in. I learned to appreciate even the smallest trickle of raindrop above the foliage, or the gust of wind that ripples the surface of the water in one summer’s day. Everything has a meaning. And even a fateful encounter in the park at one rainy morning, might actually upturn whatever normalcy we’re living in today.



Title: The Garden of Words / Kotonoha no Niwa
Aired: May 31, 2013
Licensors: Sentai Filmworks
Duration: 46 min.

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I will be posting new content every Saturdays, be it writerly stuff, or just things that I like to write about. This includes my own stories, information about my books, and things that interest me. Keep yourself updated by following me on Twitter and Instagram.


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