The Garden of Potential Cougars

The Garden of WordsThe Garden of Words by Midori Motohashi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I spent each day trudging through mud except on those rainy mornings I spent with you.

Ever since Your Name. came around, Makoto Shinkai has been on my bookish radar. I haven’t watched the said movie nor read the manga/light novel, but I quite enjoyed 5 Centimeters per Second around two years ago. So when I saw this title on Netflix, I was moderately excited. As expected, the film was short yet very meaningful. The same can be said of this manga, which is the source material. If you’re looking for a contemporary story with a predictable happy ending, you better stay away from Shinkai’s works. xD

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For me, The Garden of Words has an unorthodox plot. One can even consider it taboo. After all, the main characters, Takao and Yukino, have an age gap of 15 years. The former is a freshman in high school (and an aspiring shoemaker), while the latter is “good at playing hooky.” The special thing about these characters is that they meet in a certain park only during rainy days. You can probably deduce the nature of their relationship without me spoiling you. Rest assured that it’s fairly innocent. 🙂

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Although I was a little perturbed by the “romance” in this manga, I found myself wishing that Takao and Yukino would end up together. You could blame it all on their authenticity and tentative chemistry. Sadly, Yukino had to leave the city and start anew after some petty teenagers ruined her reputation. Takao also had significant problems to deal with, such as his immature mother and indifferent brother, so they evidently had too much baggage to be in a relationship, long-distance or not. Come to think of it, Takao and Yukino somehow looked good together because their similar EQs negated their big age difference. Hahaha, I’m sorry if that sounds like an insult to Yukino. For the most part, her life was pitiful (I think she even had a taste disorder).

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In the end, The Garden of Words deserves 4 stars because of its profound content. It basically taught me three important things. First, don’t let money get in the way of your dreams as a young professional. Second, don’t let others’ lies about you be the foundation of your identity. Finally, love cannot exist without patience; you have to wait for the perfect time. With that said, I might rewatch the brilliantly animated film just to get over the inconclusive ending. False hope really sucks.

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