The Garden of Words: Let Us All Avoid the Anime Foot Fetishist Rabbit Hole

hisui_icon_4040_round I would have normally titled this Only Happy When It Rains but you can’t understand the deep dark journey we went on for a bit after this movie. I needed to use the title to provide a warning for those who might otherwise inadvertently follow in our footsteps after reading this post. Just know that the Internet is rich with veins of content for those who wish to mix their love of Japanese cartoons and tootsies. Unless that is your preference merely know that it exists and then move on.

As I was writing the Your Name review I realized that The Garden of Words was still a major oversight the filmography of Makoto Shinkai. It is in an interesting position in his repertoire. It is shorter than his full-length films but longer than his short works. It is distinctly longer than his Voices of a Distant Star debut short film but also far shorter than 5 Centimeters Per Second which is his shortest full-length film. It does seem to be in an unusual position between short and full-length film. I discovered that Shinkai did not originally plan to have this play in theaters. It was originally just supposed to be distributed on the Internet but then got upgraded to run in theaters. That explains its more unusual 46 minutes run time.

That made me wonder if The Garden of Words would feel more like a short that got fluffed up to its current run time, a theatrical piece that was cut to 46 minutes, or would it be written to fit that time frame.

narutaki_icon_4040_round I always enjoy Makoto Shinkai’s stories, so when Al brought to my attention that we still hadn’t watched The Garden of Words I was shocked by the oversight. I was excited to return to Mr. Shinkai’s short stories with a loving attention to detail.

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Your Name. Here

hisui_icon_4040_round Makoto Shinkai is a fairly well-known anime director. He has enough name recognition that people outside of the anime community actually know his name. His films regularly appear at film festivals and win a good deal of awards. He even gets the always sort of awkward next Miyazaki title along with Mamoru Hosoda. Overall a fairly enviable career. That said I think his films have always been a hair’s breadth away from being super successful. As I have mentioned they win awards and critical praise but they always seem more art house darlings than blockbusters. But all of that changed last year. Your Name was the fourth highest-grossing film of all time in Japan and the highest-grossing anime film worldwide. In fact, this little joke from the recent Fate/Grand Order short pretty much says it all:

To sum up the scene Your Name is just the go-to reference when you want to talk about financially and critically successful anime.

So with several other anime and manga making reference to the movie, and it generally just getting praise left and right, I really felt a NEED to see this movie. When I was able to see it at the New York International Children’s Film Festival I knew I had to go. Would this be the next 5 Centimeters Per Second or more like the new Children Who Chase Lost Voices?

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Manga of the Month: To Your Eternity

To Your Eternity (不滅のあなたへ) by Yoshitoki Oima

narutaki_icon_4040_round In both a A Silent Voice and To Your Eternity, Yoshitoki Oima explores emotion, and holds the readers’ emotions in her hands. She takes a deep look into the human soul. In her new series, To Your Eternity she brings to life a fantasy landscape rife with danger, sacrifice, and beauty.

A mysterious all-powerful being sends an orb known simply as “It” into the world to observe. It can take the form of anything first inhabiting a rock, then a dog, then a boy, then . . . so on. It is immortal and can heal any damage done to it though it may take a little time. As it moves through the world It begins to learn more about human language, emotion, and motivations.

March, a happy child who dreams of being a mother one day, and Parona, an ostracized young woman warrior, have become close in their village. But Parona is wary of the tribe’s beliefs. Things come to a head when March is carted off as the latest child sacrifice to their god. March, then Parona, encounter It while in the midst of trying to escape this fate.

In a brutal world of superstition, gods, and miracles It, March, and Parona become bound together. To Your Eternity explores what it means to truly be alive and to live.

“They way you live isn’t something given to you! It’s something you win for yourself!”

At only eleven chapters in, To Your Eternity is absolutely compelling. However, I’m finding it hard to predict what this story’s goal will be. Will It, March, and Parona be the story? Will everyone die and It move on to some here-to-unknown scenario? Will It continuously meet people, observe their stories, then travel onward? Any of these scenarios feel possible.

~ kate