The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Mizu No Kotoba

Title: Mizu No Kotoba aka Aquatic Language
Genre: Drama
Company: Studio Rikka
Format: 1 episode
Dates: 26 Oct 2002

Synopsis: A recently dumped boy, an intellectual bookworm, a couple of gossiping girls, two guys, and a mysterious waitress. What do they all have in common? They are all in the same café and engaging in some form of communication.

The Highlights
Animation: Yoshiura Yasuhiro’s uniqueness.
Background music: fits the ambiance; accentuates the mood.
Length: It’s going to take me longer to write this review than it did to watch the anime.
Principal Theme: Well delivered and not a common one.
Questions left unanswered: Surprisingly few for a 9 minute, slice of life short.
Twist: An interesting one at the very end.

Short stories like Jack London’s “to build a fire,” WW Jacob’s “The Monkey’s Paw,” and Stephen Benet’s “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” have as much of an impact on the reader as any great thousand page novel. Classic short stories have enchanted both common readers and  literary critics for centuries. One can think of Mizu No Kotoba as a short story among anime.

Mizu No Kotoba uses its 9 minutes of air time to transmit its core message to the audience: the importance of communication and the preponderance of language. It actually does a superb job relaying this message. All the conversations and forms of communication that every character or group of characters engage in end up connecting and showing their combined importance. Even the two phrases which we are shown from the books the bookworm is reading, one being from Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the sea” and the other from Isaac Asimov’s “I, robot,” end up completely correlating with the “big picture” of the anime.

For those of you who have seen and appreciated Yoshiura’s other works such as Pale Cocoon (1,2) or Eve no Jikan (1,2), Mizu No Kotoba has a lot to offer. This experience offers the same unique and expressive graphics, the futuristic sci-fi setting, and the psychological delivery. The background music does a particularly excellent job accompanying and expressing the story.

This short OVA can bring a mixed set of responses. Some may not find a point in it and simply view it as 9 minutes of senseless, overrated junk. Some may think it’s the greatest psychological 9 minutes of their lives. My response was somewhere in-between the two, with a tilt towards the latter. I definitely do not believe this OVA is junk, and I think it has a fantastic message. This anime manages to do more in 9 minutes than many do in numerous episodes.

While Mizu no Kotoba probably does not deserve the same merit as some of the great regular length animes, it makes one reflect on how vital communication is. It makes one pause and consider the effectiveness and appreciation we give to every word, spoken or read. Do we really listen and speak out every word as if it were our last, or do we just blurt out meaningless phrases which, as the anime depicts them, are like bubbles in water that rapidly pop? Are we really creating a prosperous utopia of language, knowledge and communication, or are we, as the phrase we are shown from the bookworm’s copy of “Twenty Thousand Leages Under the Sea” goes, “looking at the glass of a gigantic aquarium, staring at the glass”?

The Rating: 7


Reviewed by: MK

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