Makoto Shinkai said his latest animated movie The Garden of Words was “a simple love story between a boy and a girl.” But rain was a main character, too, he said. The director and writer of The Garden of Words spoke about his 43-minute movie after its world premiere at the Gold Coast Film Festival on April 28. The movie is produced by CoMix Wave which also produced his previous movie Children Who Chase Lost Voices.
Takao is a 15-year-old boy in Shinjuku. He skips school on mornings when it rains and goes to a lush green public garden. There he sits in a shelter near a pagoda and a beautiful big pond. He sketches shoe designs, hoping to be a shoemaker one day. “The reason I chose shoemaking to be the boy’s ambition was because it’s a really personal thing,” Makoto Shinkai said. “.. And I wanted to portray Takao as someone who was, through shoemaking, wanting to make personal links with people and connect with other people.”
It is the rainy season, and it is raining when Takao meets 27-year-old Yukino at the shelter. He sketches while she drinks beer and eats chocolate.
Makoto Shinkai said there were many symbols in The Garden of Words. “For example, rain is something you can’t stop from falling on anyone’s heads,” Makoto Shinkai said. “It just comes naturally…That symbolizes love as well. It just happens. You can’t stop it from happening. And that’s the symbolism that I used.”
Each day Takao prays for rain.
Their relationship grows. He sketches her feet, measuring them for his shoe designs, tracing around them.
She is a bit lost in life. He wants to make her shoes for her to walk a new path.
Feet and shoes are also symbols in Garden of Words. “In terms of the feet and the shoes, when I was interviewing women for this film, I might ask a question: Would you show someone your feet? Most people answered, No, no way… So for a 15 year old boy, having to touch or see a woman’s feet was what Takao said: the mystery of life itself.”
Thunder is another symbol used in the movie. As Yukino departs from Takao on the first day they meet, she quotes from a tanka (a traditional Japanese poetry style). The tanka uses imagery like rain and “a faint clap of thunder”. Traditionally in Japanese culture, Mr Shinkai said, thunder represents a good harvest and God’s life. When it claps in the background at the park, it gave Yukino a goddess imagery, he said.
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-copyright Simon Sandall.