You’re in a mood for a movie. You’ve heard people talk about The Garden of Words. A film directed by Makoto Shinkai. The same guy who created Your Name, which is arguably one of the best anime movies to ever grace this planet. You can’t make up your mind to watch the film. The opinions you find online are quite divided. Some say it’s a masterpiece, others, claim the story to be lacking depth. Which one is it? Luckily, you came to the right place. Senpai will explain whether The Garden of Words is worth watching.
The short answer
Whether the film is a masterpiece or not is debatable. But is The Garden of Words worth watching?
Yes, absolutely. The animation in this film is a good reason enough to watch this film. Not many anime movies or any animation for that fact can compete with the animation of this film. There isn’t much dialogue, but when there is it provides context to the situation that the two main characters are going through. The story might not seem too apparent, but The Garden of Words explores a unique theme that is more nuanced than your average romantic love story. The soundtrack of this film fits every scene perfectly and just enhances the feel of the movie. Finally, The Garden of Words is only 48 minutes in length. If you’re scrolling through social media instead of watching this film, then you’re wasting your time. For a more elaborate answer as to why The Garden of Words is worth watching, then continue reading below.
Skip to a point that interests you
- The story and the message it’s trying to convey
- Detailed and beautiful animation
- The amazing soundtrack
- The Garden of Words is a short film
Bonus questions and answers
- Is the Garden of Words a romance
- Does it have a happy ending?
- Is it connected to Your Name?
- Can you stream it on Netflix?
The story and the message it’s trying to convey
Opinions differ when it comes to the story. Most people argue that what’s preventing The Garden of Words from becoming a great film is the lack of depth in its story. I don’t concur. I’ll admit that the story isn’t too revealing if we don’t take a closer look. From the outside, it would just look like a romantic love story between a student and a teacher. The relationship is questionable due to the age difference and social standing.
Makoto Shinkai explains that the idea of the movie centralises around lonely sadness. It’s the type of feeling that stems from isolation and a lack of connection. We can surround ourselves with friends and family, and still go through lonely sadness. It just means we have a hard time bonding emotionally with these people. Usually, being different tends to lead other people to have a negative perception of us and hence we become misfits. Misfits due to their nonconforming nature in society tend to undergo lonely sadness because of this.
The story of the Garden of Words is about the interactions of two social misfits who develop a connection. The connection leads to a companionship where both parties are healing from the presence of the other. It’s a beautiful movie, and I wrote an analysis on it that I’ll link to at the end of this post. Go check it out if you want to understand more in-depth on this beautiful movie.
To sum it up: The Garden of Words is worth watching because it has a story that’s trying to convey a deep theme that would be hard to convey outside the realms of animation.
Detailed and beautiful animation
Even if we disregard everything about the film, the animation alone should be able to convince anyone to start watching it. I’m no animation expert, so if you want to know more about the technical aspects of it, then you can read more here.
Among Shinkai’s films, I consider this to be the best in terms of animation. I think it correlates with the length of the film. The shorter the film, the more allocation of money that can go to the production of each scene. The realism in this movie in ironically unreal that I sometimes question whether what I’m seeing is an animation or a scene from real life. The attention to detail in this movie, whether it be the cutting of vegetables, the action of pencil on paper, or even the rain hitting the ground is nothing short of amazing.
Each scene is meticulously created and builds the atmosphere of the movie. The usage of different angles and the mixture of scenic shots is trying to portray something to the viewer. The facial expressions of the characters were also done well and capture each emotion perfectly, even the subtle ones.
Is The Garden of Words worth watching because of its eye candy? Absolutely.
The amazing soundtrack
In Shinkai’s previous films, Tenmon produced the music. In The Garden of Words, however, Shinkai appointed Daisuke Kashiwa, a fan of Shinkai’s 5 cm per second. I think he did a phenomenal job with the piano.
Hearing the soundtrack while watching the movie for the first time made my hair stand on ends. The music is nothing fancy meaning that it isn’t some godly orchestrated composition, but that’s because it doesn’t have to be.
The soundtrack of The Garden of Words is very soothing and melodic. It’s almost like a lullaby, but one that captures the loneliness inside the hearts of Yukino and Takao. Each soundtrack corresponds and expresses what the characters are going through at certain phases in their lives: Their first encounter, their regular meetings, the times when they were apart and their final confrontation at the end.
The soundtrack is pleasant to hear on its own, but it’s even better when you listen to it while watching the beautiful animation of the movie. You can skip the film and listen to it, but it won’t produce the same feelings. That’s why the soundtrack makes The Garden of Words worth watching.
The Garden of Words is a short film
Maybe you’re still not convinced by my reasons. Fair enough. Why not just watch it and decide for yourself whether it was worth the watch. Unlike most films, which has a runtime of 2 hours, The Garden of Words is only around 48 minutes which puts it into the category of short films. Every day people are wasting 48 minutes of their lives lying in bed, or scrolling through social media. I know watching anime isn’t the best use of time, but because of the themes and questions raised from this film, you’ll come out a different person with a different worldview. That is if you looked closer than what meets the eye.
Watch it and tell me if it’s worth it. Even if the story isn’t to your liking, the animation will blow you away. It’s an anime that you can recommend to the people around you for them to see that anime can hold its ground to western animation.
I will say one thing, people who hail this movie to be a masterpiece compared to those that claim that it lacks depth, are usually the ones who have experience in being misfits. These people tend to resonate and relate more to the two main characters of The Garden of Words.
Bonus questions and answers below
Is the Garden of Words a romance?
If you’re into romance anime, then I might recommend this movie. I say might because I don’t think it’s a romance story per se, but it is a love story just in a broader sense of the word. As I’ve explained before, the two main characters are not romantically in love, they’re in love, with the companionship that the other provides. The ability to fill the void that desires a connection with another human being. Someone who can relate to our suffering: someone who understands. Takao who is young and inexperienced, confuses this emotion with romantic feelings.
Does The Garden of Words have a happy ending?
It depends on how you look at it. The honest answer is: it’s an optimistic ending. If you’re worried and your fear of the end is preventing you from watching the film, I’ll just say this. Whatever happens, is nothing that’s not realistic and would happen in our daily lives.
Is it connected to Your Name?
No and Yes. The story has nothing to do with Your Name, but Yukino does make a cameo appearance in the movie. Shinkai likes to incorporate bits and pieces of his previous films into his latest features. I think it’s very Tarantino of him.
Can you stream The Garden of Words on Netflix?
Yes, but it depends on the region you’re streaming Netflix on. It’s available on Netflix UK, US, CAN and many different countries. If it’s not available in your area, you can still watch it, but you need to use a VPN. I recommend NordVpn. It has the best price offers with quality that is as good as other premium VPN providers. You can purchase NordVPN here.
I hope by reading this article you’ve decided on whether to watch The Garden of Words. It’s entirely up to you. If you do watch the movie, do leave your thoughts on it in the comments. I’d love a good discussion or debate.
If you want an in-depth analysis of the movie, you can read it here. Thanks for reading.