Friday, July 12, 2013

言の葉の庭 (The Garden of Words): for which I am at a loss

Fact: If there's one thing I enjoy about blogging- never mind that the term itself seems to have fallen out of vogue- it's that I give myself the opportunity to come up with the oddest, most peculiar, sensationalist, and yet strangely relevant titles I can think of. Except when I'm burned out from typing the entire piece and just want to click on the 'publish' button. For Kotonoha no Niwa though, I get the feeling that tacking on more words would be a disservice to the film. And no, in case you're wondering, I am not overcome by sloth. Not at the moment, at least.

Firstly- some background. Kotonoha no Niwa- or in English, Garden of Words is a 2013 film by Shinkai Makoto, the same chap responsible for masterpieces like 5cm per Second and The Place Promised in Our Early Days. It features the same art style used in 5cm/s- using real photos as a reference (well, base) for the drawings. The main location around which most of the action takes place is the Shinjuku Gyoen park in Tokyo, where the two mains- high schooler Akizuki Takao and the older Yukino Yukari meet on rainy days.

Like most of Shinkai's other movies, love is a major theme in Kotonoha. There's not much of a plot going on- at 45 minutes it's quite a short film- but with every passing moment you can feel yourself being drawn into a whirlpool of emotions- Akizuki's confused, but slowly blossoming feelings for Yukino; and Yukino's paced liberation from her troubles.

Without spilling any beans, if previous Shinkai works always seemed to take on a dark and gloomy tone (to recall my own words, beautifully depressing), Kotonoha is a sort of departure from the norm. Despite all the cold hard facts on hand, you- or at least I- couldn't help but be sucked into sharing Akizuki's hopes. Would it rain again, so that he could meet Yukino once more? It's not entirely clear what Yukino wants though, at least not till later on- though one can't help but feel happy for her as her situation clearly improves with every day spent talking to Akizuki.

There's not much I can say about Kotonoha, really. I wonder if that makes me a terrible movie critic- not that I've ever assumed that title- I'm more of a consumer and complainer. What I can say, however, is that every second of Kotonoha felt like a series of slowly developing photographs. Hold that thought, I don't think many people would understand such an allegory now. Oh well. To wrap things up- don't watch this if you're expecting a grand drama or epic. It's a beautiful, simple story that might draw you in, as it drew me, if you can relate to the story-  but perhaps not if you're a blockhead looking for fun.

Note: Now I'm starting to sound awfully pretentious. Time out.

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