Makoto Shinkai’s 2013 short anime movie The Garden of Words depicts a beautiful thriving relationship between a high school student and a teacher. As age-gap relationships tend to be stigmatised, this movie explores this, in a very beautiful and realistic way. Takao Akizuki, a 15-year-old boy, who dreams of becoming a shoemaker skips school on a rainy morning and goes to a picturesque park to sketch shoes, where he meets a 27-year-old woman Yukari Yukino who skips work because of problems in her professional life.
This film portrays the life of two people who are lost and go to the Shinjuku garden to escape from reality so they can be at peace. One such rainy morning Takao who goes there to think about a new shoe design meets Yukina and their first meeting was beautifully shown through a tanka.
“A faint clap of thunder
Perhaps rain comes,
If so, will you stay with me?”
Beauty Of Garden Of Words
The title of the movie "Garden of Words" is very ironic in a literal sense but it acts as a metaphor for telling the story through visuals there were only a few dialogues but every dialogue is written with thought and is very poetic, especially the parts where Takao narrates like when he says “I realised that on sunny days, I was in a terrible, childish place. With nothing but impatience. She exists in a world of working adults, so very far away from me… To me, she represents nothing less than the secrets of the world.” where he describes himself as an immature boy and Yukino as an adult. He was charmed by her but can’t meet her on sunny days because of which he was feeling empty and expressing their distance, the distance in their worlds, the difference in their age, the feeling of having a strong bond but still can’t be with each other.
The Shinjuku garden is depicted as an escape for Takao and Yukino and rain as a bridge between their worlds as it connects them when they left their worlds outside when they were in the garden. And gradually, from their brief encounter they open up to each other where Takao shares his passion for making shoes and Yukino talks about skipping work to avoid problems. And then Takao decides to make shoes for her by saying “ I’m going to make a pair of shoes that will make her want to get up and walk and find her way” where shoes represent the will and courage to “walk”, to make progress in life and to move forward, and that’ll help her get up or her feet again.
The month of August- The month where the rain stopped. But feelings for each other didn’t. Takao moves out and summer break starts for him and all he does is part-time work while mentioning her and saying that he still misses her but clinging to those feelings will keep him a little kid and that’s why he decides to create shoes that’ll make her want to get up and walk. Whereas Yukari says that she is 27 but she is not a bit smarter than when she was 15 which shows how she never learnt something in her life and misses Takao.
Soon after the summer break, Takao realised that Yukino is a classic literature teacher at his school and now quitting his job. As she was having trouble with 3rd yr girls who treated her terribly by spreading so many rumours and now she is quitting her job. As soon as he hears he goes and confronts Yukino and also completes the verse.
“A faint clap of thunder
Even if rain comes not,
I will stay here,
Together with you.”
As they both get drenched in the rain. So, Yukari brought takao home to dry and iron his clothes. During that time Takao cooked her dinner and eventually confessed his feelings for her but she turned him down because of the hefty taboos society puts on them as he was a student and she was a teacher to which he despondently excused himself from the apartment and after he left Yukino quickly began crying and chased him and found him idly on the stairs and he started yelling at Yukari that how she knows everything and still she ends up playing with his feelings while still knowing that he will never live up to her expectation. This accusation makes Yukari cry again and then she gives him a long heartfelt hug while embracing that the time she spent with him saved her life.
Winter has started and they are now not together. Takao reads the letter of Yukina and finally realises that she was not the only one who was learning to walk, he was learning too. This shoe scene marks that Takao has become a shoemaker and he is now closer to the world of adults, closer to the world of Yukino.
This movie is so short yet so deep that words won’t be enough to express its beauty and you have to witness it through your own eyes and applaud to its brilliance that how it is presented so beautifully with arguably one of the best animations ever. It has great Ost’s which fit perfectly in every situation, my favourite is “Greenery Rain”. This movie is pure work of art which rightly fits in the category of simplicity and elegance.
Garden of Words is a romantic movie but not a typical one. It delivers so many emotions symbolically and metaphorically. Dialogues play a supporting role in this movie as the alluring visuals did most of the heavy lifting of the movie while the sound effects fit perfectly in every scene of the movie and just makes every scene more deep and meaningful. It is a movie about lonely people finding comfort and peace in each other and how they create a bond despite having so many problems. The movie finishes on a bittersweet note while what lies ahead between their relationship is entirely on viewers perspective.
So, what do you think, how should the story end?
© 2022 Shubham Bamnawat