Anime Review: The Garden of Words

March 17, 2017

Takao Akizuki with umbrella

Well, it certainly has a while, huh?

Yes, I have not let this place die out as much as I have in the past, but much of my time has been spent on various manga and prose fiction titles that I have not spent as much time in the other area that I focused heavily on when I first started this blog, which was before I got a domain name and set up the Patreon page that I have been linking to recently.

However, I recently got reimbursed in the form of iTunes credit for an expenditure that I did not plan to make this month, and got a movie and a show using that credit.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those titles, which is called The Garden of Words.

Takao sees teacher in rain

Takao is an ordinary high schooler, with dreams of becoming a shoe designer, and he cannot wait to leave school life, but when he skips school, he meets a woman that seems to be living the life he wants and the two begin to develop a bond that seems to be so much more.

Yukari Yukino offering a drink

Regardless of medium used to tell a story, I am always wary of titles that people say are some kind of masterpieces, which is one reason I am rather unenthusiastic about watching movies or television shows produced now where I live, aside from how the entertainment industry here focuses too much on eye candy and has relationships, of any kind, that do not feel as realistic as they should feel, so I will generally avoid the work or remain cautious about it.

And after watching this, I can say probably say that I was not that impressed with it.

Now, a lot of people know that I try to find the good and the bad in a work, with hopes that the only bad things about a work are those that can be easily overlooked, especially since I know that my writing will never be perfect, no matter how many times a proofreader goes through it, because I want to be as fair as I can possibly be, regardless of my own biases.

However, this is the second title this month, and the first one that is an anime, that makes me really want to skip right to what I hated.

Fortunately, there was at least one thing that I liked, so I do not need to do the one thing that I hate to do.

The thoughts presented and the feelings behind them felt mostly realistic.

Even though fiction is meant to help us escape the rough nature that is life, that does not mean that an audience would like it even there was not some bit of realism in it, because, like imagery in prose fiction, having aspects that are somewhat similar to real life helps immerse an audience into a work, especially one that is presented in a visual medium, like anime and American television and movies.

In this movie, the things that felt fairly realistic were the thoughts and feelings expressed by the characters, mainly that of Takao.

Takao thinks that once he becomes a professional shoe designer that he will be living the life that he wants, because he thinks that adults are doing what they want and were meant to do.

These sentiments felt real to me because we all have them in our lives, whether we are children, teens, or becoming adults, and we all feel like we will be free and happy once we obtain our dreams.

For many that like some of the same things as me, some of whom are quite a bit younger than me, their dream is to be able to make money reading manga and watching anime and they seem to be focused on only the positive aspects, which I have expressed negative sentiments for in a post I wrote up talking about my views of optimism, pessimism, and realism.

However, many of my elders are aware of the harshness of life, and our dreams may not be as blissful as we think they are, and people are praising March Comes in like a Lion because it tells a story of a person who was able to do what they liked for a living, yet did not feel happy, which I am happy to see, though I cannot say that I am a fan of the show, even if I am following it on Crunchyroll. I, myself, would like it if I could makes hundreds on the books that I have written and/or be able to earn enough through Patreon to continue reviewing the titles that I enjoy, but I need to be able to accept the requests others and be able to deliver the best that I can, in spite of the imperfections that people see, so that I can impress them enough to earn their dollar.

Moments like these help me become immersed in the work, at least of what little amount of time that I could find myself interested in the movie, and is enough for me give Makoto Shinkai, who seems to be gaining a reputation of being the next Hayao Miyazaki in the fandom that I follow, a pass.

I am not too sure about this guy's other works, even though I was kind of interested in seeing Your Name, which Funimation announced will be in select theaters in April of this year, but having something that is only passable makes me less interested in checking out anything else from him, even if I am glad that Makoto does not think that he is a great as the anime fandom makes him out to be.

Then again, I am sure that he can improve with time, due to his own self-criticism, so I am not ready to swear him off just yet, like I am ready to swear off John Grisham and hope that all of his fans wake up and see how much of a joke he was in his last book.

Unfortunately, that was all that I could really find to like about this movie, aside from maybe the art work, so I guess I must move on.

Because the thoughts and feelings presented in this work did allow me to become immersed in the work, though not as much as I would have liked, I could find some enjoyment in a movie that might be just as bad as what American movies have become.

Takao angry with Yukino

Although I did find something that I liked, there are some issues.

First, like Lindsey Leavitt's The Chapel Wars, I did not feel like I was pulled into the world of the movie, nor that I wanted to continue watching, regardless of the needs that I have to satisfy.

While Lindsey's book was prose fiction, and the lack of imagery contributed to that mess, the problem found in this movie had more to do with the pacing and how much it tried to cover in the length of an hour-long television episode.

Readers can take their time reading and building a connection, but, in the visual medium, that connection can only be established through a slow enough pace that allows the characters to be fleshed out and how they interact with each other, but Makoto did not allow me to get a feel for the world or its characters, beyond the small moments where they had thoughts and feelings that we would all have in real life.

Seeing as how there is at least one article online from South China Morning Post that suggests Makoto is not happy with being called Miyazaki's successor and claims that there are massive problems in Your Name, I am pretty sure that he is aware of this problem in this work, but I still cannot really let him off the hook, or even my fellow anime fans for even thinking that this deserves the pedestal they put it on.

Really, guys? How can this be called such a great movie when I cannot even be sucked into it like I was sucked into Your Lie in April, The Legend of the Legendary Heroes, or even the best portions of Clannad?

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but this is just one movie where I just cannot see how it gets the hype that it deserves.

I also hated how I did not feel anything while I watched this movie.

The way the story starts off gives me the impression that there are going to be some serious emotional feels, like what could be found in Clannad, or even Narcissu, because of a possible romantic relationship, that might be illegal where I live, since the protagonist is 15 and the woman he meets is 27, and that they enjoy being together.

However, just like my problem with the romantic relationship present in The Chapel Wars, there did not really seem to be anything, whether it be friendship or romantic, among the two characters because it did not seem like there was enough time spent with just them, even though there were at least more moments where they were left alone than Dax and Holly in The Chapel Wars.

One of the reasons that I like anime over the animated series produced where I live and other television shows or movies, with a few possible exceptions, is that the relationships and bonds feel a bit more realistic than what is shown where I live, though I will not say it is completely true to life.

The best examples of this can be found in Clannad, where the characters all grow in a way in which they feel like a real family, and Orange, where five friends were trying to help each other in preventing the suicide of somebody close and they showed genuine concern towards each other, as well as the person that they were trying to save, as they should have.

Unfortunately, this movie lacked those kinds of moments, and makes me want to hate myself for thinking that Makoto can deliver on something that so many others could give me.

If Makoto was happy to be called Miyazaki's successor, I would have been much more irritated than I am and would have chewed him out, but because he is not that full of himself, I am willing to decrease the severity rating of this issue, though not enough to downgrade it from a major issue to a minor one. This is why no work of fiction should ever be rushed, and I doubt that my opinion would change if I watched this subbed, especially considering that subbed anime has problems that dubbed anime does not, and I can only enjoy subbed anime when I do not have a headache.

Honestly, I am shaking my head and wondering why my fellow anime fans think that this so great, when it lacks something that people are praising it for.

The thing that I hated the most though was the use of profanity in this movie.

Now, visitors to my blog know that I have absolutely no problem with profanity being used in a work, as long as it feels natural, unlike Aria the Scarlet Ammo Volume 1, and/or helps bring out the emotional feels of a scene, like what happened in the final episode of Orange.

However, I have also noted that the benefits of having profanity in a work of fiction are diminished if there is too much of it, and this certainly seemed to have too much of it for my liking.

As Sentai Filmworks is responsible for the dub of this movie, the blame for this problem falls squarely on them.

Your fans might like the use of profanity, Sentai Filmworks, especially because it might make the title seem much more mature, but the best scenes from any work of fiction that stands out to me are those that give off the best possible feelings for those moments, such as when Oz confronted Xai in Pandora Hearts Volume 22 or when Akio Furukawa, from Clannad, said the exact words that I quoted in my review of The Chapel Wars. Why did you guys mess this up, when you call yourselves professionals?

If it were not for the moments that I get unexpected headaches, this would have been enough reason for me to watch this movie subbed, and I night have liked it better, but, right now, I can see why my elders think that the use of profanity can be indicator that a person cannot express themselves quite well, especially because excessive use of profanity seems to be more prevalent than wisely utilized profanity.

Hopefully, the companies that bring anime to where I live can learn that not everything needs to have profanity to be good, but I do not see that happening any time soon, especially since movie studios here seem to focus more on delivering eye candy than great stories, so all I can possibly do is watch as all the mediums that fiction is delivered through just goes down the drain.

Fortunately, I cannot think of anything else that annoyed me to no end, at least that could stand on its own, so I should just be glad that Sentai Filmworks and Makoto Shinkai and company did not make things any worse.

While there were only three things wrong with this movie, they were each bad enough to hurt its quality and my enjoyment to the point where I think it should have ruined Makoto Shinkai's and the licensee who brought it to where I live.

Despite the fact that there was something to like about this movie, the negatives outweighed it enough to make this a waste of time.

I recommend everyone, regardless of whether they are an anime fan or not, to avoid this movie like the plague it is, because this was not a great movie and it cannot show how great Japanese animation can be.

If you have seen this movie, what are your thoughts on The Garden of Words? Please leave a comment and let everyone know why you liked or hated it, especially if your reasons differ from mine or you disagree with me, and know of any redeeming qualities that might exist.

Also, if you liked this review and would like to see more, or can think of an anime series (26 episodes or less please) or movie that I might like, please consider supporting me on Patreon, so that I can find some worthwhile anime.

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