Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Garden of Words (2014)

Author: Makoto Shinkai  |  Illustrator: Midori Motohashi  |  Page Count: 194

"It's not like we had a promise or anything.  But still..."

Every one of Shinkai’s anime works to date is an emotional tour de force that connects to something malleable inside of me.  Each part is carefully orchestrated to elicit that kind of response in a mass audience, but he somehow makes it feel deeply personal.  In the case of TGoW, when presented as a manga it loses not just the fluidity and the precise, measured silences, but something more significant, something soul-stirring that’s almost indefinable.  It’s still an enjoyable read but to really appreciate the subtleties throughout I’d recommend viewing the anime too, before or after, depending on your preference.

It's the story of Takao, a Kyushu high school student with a dream and the drive to realise it.  On rainy mornings he shelters in a wooden gazebo, and works on his skills.  It’s there that he has a chance encounter with an individual who changes his life forever.  (It makes me wonder what lengths the universe goes to to make the simplicity of a ‘chance’ encounter happen.)  Over time their self-confidence grows and they begin to flourish like flowers after a sun-shower.

There’s a Tanka poem deeply embedded in the narrative.  If you can spare the time, some research into the form and history of the style will enrich the work.

There's a danger I'll unwittingly turn this review into a series of wispy musings on self-indulgent concerns, so I'll end it after saying one thing more: with regards the Tanka device, I believe there’s a poem for everyone but not everyone has found theirs yet, or is brave enough to attempt to write it themselves.

3 cautious steps out of 5

Note: You can find spoiler-free, mini-reviews of some of Makoto Shinkai’s films, including The Garden of Words, at our sister site, In a Nutshell.

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