(Source: CoMix Wave Films)
(Source: CoMix Wave Films)

Makoto Shinkai directed one of my favorite movies from Fantasia last year (2012), the anime Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below.

This year, he returns with the more subtle and down to earth Garden of Words. It’s more of a slice-of-life type anime, where the main two characters just seem to go about their day.

Takao Akisuki dreams of becoming a shoemaker. It’s the start of the rainy season, and each day it rains he skips school and goes to his favorite spot in the park to draw shoe designs. There he rans into a woman that likes to seat in the same spot to drink beer and eat chocolate. Slowly, a friendship develops.

The woman is Yukari Yukino. They will eventually start talking and Yukari will encourage Takao’s dreams by giving him a book on shoemaking. Takao will finally ask her to use her foot as a model for a shoe he’s trying to create.

The pace is slow and contemplative, giving us the chance to look around. The rain, the trees, the leaves and the drops of water are all beautifully animated. You can see how painstakingly the animation has been done to create a park that is truly alive. The backdrop becomes a part of the story as Takao will discover that Yukari is a teacher at his school. Although he will develop a crush on her, the story  never falls into cheesy romance territory. Sometimes all you need is to make a stranger into a friend.

The film is subtle but powerful. Heavily recommended if you like slow pace in a slice of life anime. In a way, it’s very zen – like a cup of tea after getting drenched in the rain.

That will do for now.

Coming up:

(Sources: 2013 Fantasia Film Festival, Garden of Words)