Netflix Review – The Garden of Words: Love And Loneliness Can Both Be Beautiful

Makoto Shinkai, the director of Your Name, the highest-grossing Anime film of all time, brought us this short movie about love and isolation.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Takao Akizuki (Miyu Irino/Patrick Poole) is a 15 year old student who aspires to become a shoemaker. He lives with his older brother in Tokyo after their mother moves out to stay with her new boyfriend. On days when it rains, he likes to sit in a covered area in the public garden and sketch shoe designs, skipping his first class of the day. One day he meets 27-year-old Yukari Yukino (Kana Hanazawa/Maggie Flecknoe), a woman who appears to be skipping out on work  by drinking beer and eating chocolate. After they sit together for a few minutes, she departs by reciting a tanka (a japanese poem that has 5 lines). When he stops again on the next rainy day, he finds her again. The two continue to meet on rainy days, leading to an odd and beautiful relationship.

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I saw that cup on Game of Thrones.


I admit that this movie is going to be a little unusual for certain audiences who are used to typical structures and rules for movies, particularly the ending. I’m not trying to spoil anything, just saying that you may end the film wondering where the rest of the story is. Part of the reason for that is that the movie is only about 45 minutes long, which also makes it feel somewhat incomplete. However, if you’re like me, you may end up liking these elements because the movie tells exactly the story that it intends to tell and then leaves it up to us to think about what we’ve just seen.

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It sticks with you, and that’s the hallmark of a good story.

One of the central themes of this film is love as explored under a traditional Japanese interpretation. I haven’t tried to read Japanese in like 10 years and I wasn’t that great then, so bear with me when I tell you what the director was apparently going for. So, in Japanese, at least before they started dealing with Westerners, there wasn’t exactly a word that was an equivalent of the English meaning of Love. There was “ai,” which covered selfless love or parental love, and derived from the word for beauty. Then there was “koi,” which covered romantic love, but originally was written using the kanji meaning “lonely sadness.” Essentially, it’s the feeling of longing for someone when you’re alone. Apparently this was used frequently in the Man’yōshū, a Japanese collection of poems referenced in the film. 

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Syllable count: 5-7-5-7-7, but the first two are combined in English.

This film emphasizes this concept of “lonely sadness” repeatedly, because both of the characters are constantly seeking a form of solitude. The reason that they go to the park when it rains is because the rain not only emphasizes the beauty of the plants around them, but also keeps most people away. They bond over the fact that both of them like the beautiful solitude of the rain. They’re alone together. The movie doesn’t say that solitude is necessarily negative, either. While Yukari’s solitude is the result of mental health issues, Takao’s solitude grows over the movie as his brother moves out, yet he still manages to work on his passion for nice shoes. However, we do see that his longing for Yukari’s company grow when he is alone. As rainy days get rarer, so too are their meetings, and both long for the rain to come just so they know they could see the other. Part of love is learning to cope with the longing when you cannot be with someone, either temporarily or otherwise.

The sun can burn you in a lot of ways.

The shoes within the movie are a metaphor that is explicitly explained by the characters. Yukari is suffering from a mental breakdown that makes her skip work and causes her to be unable to taste food right. She compares her crippling depression to being unable to actually walk, so her relationship with Takao is him both literally and figuratively giving her the shoes to walk with. Like I said, they make this explicit in the film, but I still think it was a clever and beautiful metaphor.

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Quentin Tarantino loved this part.

Beauty is pretty much the central thing about this movie. Everything in it has a certain beauty to it that comes from its simplicity and focus. The art style is breathtaking, particularly the garden setting and the rain effects, but the amount of detail in some of the shots really sets this apart. There are varying art styles throughout the film, ranging from watercolor-like backdrops to extremely realistic water effects. You can either see the brush strokes or the wood grains, depending, but it always emphasizes the relationship between the characters and the objects. 

Well, it blew me away, at least.

Honestly, I loved Your Name and I definitely consider that to be Makoto Shinkai’s magnum opus to this point, but this film really did speak to me. It’s short, so it’s not much of an investment of time to get through it. I will say that this film does have to be watched in Japanese, because many of the lines just don’t sound right in the dub on Netflix. It’s not that the translation is bad, in fact they basically just read the subtitles, but since many of the lines are designed to sound like some forms of Japanese poetry, the dub doesn’t quite get the nuance. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (, follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – Carole and Tuesday: I Love This and I Don’t Know Why

Netflix brings us a new anime by the creator of Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Space Dandy about two young girls trying to become musicians. It’s so awesome you guys.


It’s the future. We’ve colonized Mars and it mostly looks like Earth. Earth is now a craphole. Carole Stanley (Miyuri Shimabukuro/Jeannie Tirado/ XX (vocals)) is an orphan refugee from Earth who works part-time jobs to support her piano playing. Tuesday Simmons (Kana Ichinose/Celeina Ann/Brianna Knickerbocker) is a rich girl who runs away from her politician mother. While Carole is playing a song in public, Tuesday encounters her and innately understands her feelings coming through her music. The two quickly bond and realize that they each complement the other’s writing, quickly churning out a song. They break into a concert hall to record it, only to go viral when they get secretly recorded by Roddy (Miyu Irino/Zach Aguilar). This video is seen by Gus Goldman (Akio Otsuka/Jason Marnocha), a former musician and manager, who offers to help the girls get their careers going. 

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Yes, Tuesday plays a Gibson.

At the same time, they have a rival brewing from a former child star named Angela Carpenter (Sumire Uesaka/Alisa/Ryan Bartley), who is getting help from AI tech genius Tao (Hiroshi Kamiya/Kyle McCarley) to launch her own singing career. 

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So many insecurities masked by so much badass.

The three end up meeting when they enter the same music competition, with their possible futures on the line.


This show’s so good, it actually works well in either subs or dubs. You can watch it in English or Japanese and it’s actually pretty much the same. A big part of that is that the music is the same in both languages. There’s only one version of each song, with the same artist providing the vocals in both languages, and with two songs per episode, that’s a decent portion of the series. So, however you like your anime, it’s going to be awesome for you.

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This series was made by Shinichiro Watanabe, the creator of Cowboy Bebop, and, much like that show, this series is a blend of a number of different musical and fictional genres. Each of the episodes is named after a famous song, ranging from “Fire and Rain” to “Video Killed the Radio Star,” paying tribute to not just a kind of music, but music as a whole. There’s a gangster rapper who uses opera at one point, for example. This series is a love letter to the power of sound. 

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You feel the grandeur of the performance, but also the intimacy of their playing.

Carole and Tuesday are presented as the pure side of music, because in this future Artificial Intelligence generates most of the songs. One artist, DJ Ertegun (Mamoru Miyano/Ray Chase) considers himself a genius despite the fact that all of his songs and his musical performances are actually done by AIs that are written by Roddy. Machines have taken over so much of the industry that people consider it a novelty that Carole and Tuesday even write their own stuff. They’re two broke girls who constantly risk it all to survive based on their own talent, which is, admittedly, sizeable. They’re the underdogs that we want to cheer for and, dear God, do I cheer for them when they play. The music in this show is phenomenal, but they do save the best for our leads. Their struggles are human, their victories are hard-won, and their characters are surprisingly well fleshed-out despite the fact that they are essentially building off of simple archetypes, which was a strength of Cowboy Bebop

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Life isn’t fair, but that’s why we have fiction.

Even though she is their rival and a user of AI generated music, Angela is not presented as evil. She’s on a journey to overcome the bias against her as a former actress trying to become a musician, because she loves music. That’s why it’s so interesting when she finally goes up against Carole and Tuesday, because she’s not a villain, just a person who wants to sing that’s taking a different tactic. Admittedly, a much easier one, but since it’s an option for her it’s hard to blame her.

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She gets a 12 million dollar loan to start her career while the leads beg for gigs.

It’s interesting that this show actually explores the future where automation has started eliminating creative jobs, one of the things which are currently assumed to only be the domain of humans. We see AI directors, animators, writers, and, of course, musicians. Instead, in this version of the future, the only jobs left are pretty much the ones that are dependent upon human personality, like being a DJ or a professional mourner. Despite this, we don’t see anything like Universal Basic Income or communal resources, instead, we just have a proliferation of those kind of positions.

The animation is top-notch, the supporting characters are all phenomenal, the writing is amazing in both languages, and the end of the series, which is really just the set-up for the second half, is amazing. Also, this is one of the first anime series I remember to have an openly bisexual character where that is not the focus of their character, if that’s something you appreciate. 

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They animate this woman’s clothing separate from the scene and it’s amazing.

The thing that surprises me is that this show is not something that I would normally think of as being my kind of show. I have no knowledge of music, nor do I really listen to it. The show is extremely formulaic, with most of the things happening exactly as you would expect, something that usually drives me nuts. Despite that, the show has so much damned heart that I couldn’t help but feel my eyes watering during some scenes. Really, its absolutely flawless use of tropes reminds me why these things became tropes in the first place. I recommend it for everyone. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (, follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.