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: Chocolate Cosmos

Chocolate Cosmos (チョコレートコスモス) by Nana Haruta

narutaki_icon_4040_round I had been hoping for more of Nana Haruta’s romance manga to make it into English. I’m a big fan of her series Cactus’s Secret which was released by VIZ a couple of years ago. Chocolate Cosmos is part of VIZ’s fairly new and small section of digital only releases.

Sayuki is a sharp-eyed and sharp-tongued girl who is really a romantic at heart. While on a trip to the beach with friends, she meets and falls for a guy working at a chocolate banana stand. The feelings seem mutual. But it turns out that guy is actually one of her teachers.

Chocolate Cosmos is pure fantasy in regards to dating your teacher, one in which things can work out pretty OK without any consequences. But the extra touch that makes Chocolate Comsos a little special is actually Sayuki’s exploration of her own feelings and her relationship with a different boy completely.

Sayuki spends a lot of the manga examining what she wants and how to go about it. There is pretty much no question who she has romantic feelings for (and whether he has them for her either), even with her childhood friend Yushi in the mix. But what I found refreshing was the slow reveal of Sayuki’s past feelings for Yushi and how things have changed for her. Their final conversations about those feelings are very satisfying and tread a less familiar path.

The melodrama of the series is very low-key and interspersed with a lot of humor which is why I enjoy Nana Haruta’s stories so much. Chocolate Cosmos is just the type of romance manga one wants to devour in a lazy summer afternoon.

~ kate