What it’s about: Takao habitually skips class on rainy mornings, choosing instead to hang out in a nearby park and draw sketches in preparation for his dream career as a shoemaker. Each time he goes there in one particular summer, he runs into Yukino, an older woman with a penchant for beer and chocolate. The film explores the budding relationship between the two as the days pass.
Why you should watch it: I cannot emphasis enough how utterly gorgeous the artwork is, with particular effort put into the ever-present rain and water. The story has a slightly meditative quality about it that you don’t find in many other anime works and, while it’s slightly slow-paced, it remains intriguing from start to finish. If you’re a fan of excellent animation or romantic drama, Garden of Words is very much worth a look.
Caveats: It’s very similar in tone, style and approach to most of the other works produced by the director – Voices of a Distant Star in particular. If you’re familiar with Makoto Shinkai’s body of work, this doesn’t offer much new material. It’s still very pretty, though.
Themes: Like most of Makoto Shinkai’s works, there’s a focus on the idea of “distance” in a relationship. Where Voices of a Distant Star went for physical distance and Someone’s Gaze went for emotional distance, in this case the gap is maturity. Can a relationship really work out for the best when one partner is so much more worldly than the other – a literal teacher and mentor figure.