It’s funny sometimes how things are right before your eyes, but some how you don’t see them. Like the fact that the title of Shinkai’s forthcoming film has Kanji strokes in the form of leaves. How could I only notice it now?
Well, this isn’t what I mean to be writing about today, but the real topics of this post are a) the world premiere of the film, b) further character descriptions and c) a new image gallery for Kotonoha no Niwa.
You’ll never guess. The world (not international, but world!) premiere of Kotonoha no Niwa will be in… Australia. It’s not the first time Japanese animators have premiered their films abroad – Hosoda Mamoru’s「おおかみこどもの雨と雪」(Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki/Wolf Children, 2012) first screened in France –, although I do wonder if Shinkai has a special connection to the country or the specific festival (Australia’s Gold Coast Film Festival) where it will be shown. The screening is scheduled for the final day of the CGFF, April 28, and the director will be present to answer questions and sign posters. Lucky Aussies is all I can say! (You can book here by the way. Snatch up that ticket sooner rather than later!)
Character Descriptions and Image Gallery
New character descriptions and an image gallery were recently added to the film’s official Japanese webpage, offering a further glimpse into the film. Since I like to pick these kind of things apart, let’s take a closer look and see what we find.
In this first, familiar-looking picture (we have seen the scene before, but from a different angle), both our leads are present:
We now also know their full names: Akizuki Takao (秋月 孝雄) and Yukino Yukari (雪野 百香里).
If we zoom in a little closer, we get what seems to be a close-up of this moment, or rather, specifically of Takao’s shoe designs. Note the naturalist theme – his ribbons and straps are plant leaves and vines. I kinda like it as it makes me even more curious about the type of shoes he will design for Yukino.
As for the completely new, here is a light-filled shot of Yukino waiting somewhere. Although plants predominate the foreground and also more subtly other parts of the frame through shadows and reflections, we can tell this scene is not in the garden but in a more urban area, which may mean that it is not Takao he is meeting but someone from her ‘real’ life.
We also get to meet several new characters, such as Takao’s 26-year old brother and his 24-year old girlfriend, who is originally from Kasai. No names are given for either one.
According to the brother’s character description, he still lives at home but wants to move in with his girlfriend, which, I’d guess, is what the picture above with all the boxes is all about (moving day!).
We are also introduced to Takao’s mother, here sitting at a table with an unidentified man (possibly Takao’s brother, possibly not):
She is 47 and free-spirited, apparently more dedicated to pursuing romance than taking care of her family (whom, the character description emphasises, she does love very much). Note the light in the picture. And the beer, which the adults seem to be drinking throughout the film (e.g. Yukino in the garden).
We have no picture of Sato (though I think she may be that other girl we see in one scene in the trailer) but is said to have many friends and know about everything that is going on at school.
Finally, there is Aizawa (相沢). Her character is said to be “proud” and always in the company of others (probably meaning popular). She looks rather annoyed here. I’m not sure if she is the one we see Takao slapping in the trailer – that girl is pictured only from behind and the hair looks a little fuller, but it may still be the same person.
Now two more general images: First, a view of garden where Takao and Yukino meet (you can spy their silhouettes in the distance). I have to say that is one huge park (more like a forest!) in the middle of a city and very flush with vegetation. I’m also curious about the rounded structure in the background as it reminds me of London’s Gherkin. I’m wondering whether this a recognisable building in Tokyo or a fantasy creation of Shinkai’s (maybe inspired by the Gherkin, since he did reside in London for one year in 2008).
Image #2 is of Takao, deeply immersed in his art. Again, note the light. Most films of Shinkai’s feature natural light, i.e. the sun illuminating land- or cityscapes or creating a shadow play in a room, but here we have the artificial light of a desk lamp fracture into a rainbow, reminding us yet again that Shinkai is indeed the unrivalled master of night and light and the half light.
Shinkai has indicated that the gallery will be expanded in the future, so there will more image galore to look forward to and whet our tastes for the film.
- Official website of Kotonoha no Niwa (in Japanese/日本語)
- More Musings on the Trailer of Shinkai’s「言の葉の庭」(17 March 2013)
- 「言の葉の庭」(Kotonoha no Niwa): First Trailer and Impressions (21 Feb 2013)
- Shinkai Makoto Announces「言の葉の庭」(Kotonoha no Niwa) (23 Dec 2012)