The strength of Whisper of the Heart is the strength all films that have been touched by Miyazaki seem to have. That is, the details. In this film the things that have impressed me were the little extras that are contained in each characters movements. It's something that you very rarely get—at least this consistently—outside of Miyazaki films. Whether it be reaching for the lamp cord from bed, failing, and needing to sit up to do it properly, or whether it be the normal silences in conversation (as apposed to dramatic silences), everything just feels a lot more real, a lot more vibrant than most
Regarding this film in comparison to other films Miyazaki has been a part of, this one seems to by far have the fewest fantastic elements (that is, elements which contain impossible occurrences or imaginary creatures). If I could compare it to any other Miyazaki film, I would say that it is most like My Neighbor Totoro, in that they both focus on the more or less ordinary lives of their characters, rather than large, sweeping plots. It is something that needs to be watched with a mind set that is not waiting for something to move forward, or endanger the characters lives, or otherwise throw them into an absurd situation. Everything that happens in the plot is very believable, yet has its own magic about it because of the playful way it is presented.
One thing that was especially impressive about this film, although most Miyazaki films carry this trait, was the accuracy of the child psychology (and psychology in general). When you watch the characters of this film interact with each other, and when you see things happen to them and how it affects them, you get a feeling of profound truth. This film is dramatic, but it was not cinema dramatic, it was true dramatic. If a character is sad, that doesn't become their entire personality, it is something that affects their personality. The reason I ramble so long about this is because of how rare it is to see in any medium of art. It is something that if you are looking for it, it is truly beautiful and astounding. This quality of work is not easily imitated.
If you ask me why I rate the art a "9" I will tell it is because of its expressiveness. The landscapes are beautiful, sure, but the real reason I give it a 9 is because of the work put into the animations of every character. There is nothing lazy about it, and there is a uniqueness to the characters movements that takes serious attention. Most films will cut corners in this department, but even though you could call this movie's art dated, that doesn't decrease the pleasure gained from its attentiveness.
Still, I will hesitate to recommend this to everyone. If you want a plot that 'actually goes somewhere,' so to speak, this film will not give that to you. If you want a film with a tonne of weird and unbelievable things (such as you may be used to with Miyazaki), this film will also not deliver that. What this film delivers is a very detailed picture of its characters which is at times heart warming, at other times heart breaking, and at all times true.
Mimi wo Sumaseba, which literally means If You Listen Closely, tells the story of Shizuku, a junior-high school student who is struggling to find out who she is. The movie takes you on a journey through her imagination and daily life as she makes decisions that will ultimately decide her future.
This is the first anime movie I watched,Ghibli movie too, that wasn't packed with interruptions and magic to HELP the characters fall in love. Their love is PURE and honest that even if the plot moves very slow, its adorable. Whisper of the Heart helped me through one of my worst years, as its
calming atmosphere and charming love story brings a smile to my fave every time I watch it. The movie takes place over either a few weeks or a week, its not really clear on that, then shows Shizuka's struggle through two months. The slow pace of it builds to the sweet ending, but I just wish they would have kissed, or some kind of epilogue was inserted after the credits.
Also, this movie is kind of a spin-off of the Ghibli movie "The Cat Returns". If you've seen the movie, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Other than that, Whisper of the Heart still remains my favorite Ghibli movie.
I'm a huge fan of the Ghibli style. The thing I was a little unsure about was how the characters looked much older than they actually were. I did like the character designs, as each character had their own look. The backgrounds were beautifully done, as always. The Baron seemed to be the one the animators paid most attention too. He and his "mate" were so intricately detailed and beautiful, that he stole the scenes he was in! Don't get me wrong, I loved the Baron, and the story Shizuka created with him.
I watched this movie 3 years ago for the first time, and in English. I think Im being weird when I say that I prefer the English script over the Japanese, but the Japanese voices over the English. Seiji's voice is so much more adorable in the original Japanese, and not deep and weird sounding (No offense to David Gallagher, who I used to crush on during my 7th Heaven days). The background music was quirky and sweet, and I loved it. My favorite BGM music is the one that plays while Shizuka is storming home, calling Seiji a STUPID JERK. ITs so funny. The entire theme song, "Take Me Home, Country Roads" used to be one of my favorite songs, and hearing it in Japanese was amazing. Now I prefer the Japanese over the English version.
Every single character in this movie is a pleasure to watch, their stories each being different. My favorite just happens to be Seiji (Though I love even more in the manga.), who loved Shizuka for who she was. And his violin playing, I think, was the thing that started my love for the violin. Shizuka is just a girl who likes Fairy Tales and is trying to figure herself out. The love between these two characters is so cute and overflowing, and HONEST. I will never stop saying that. Their love is honest. Nothing twisted their minds, no magic was involved, no one tried to ruin them. Nothing you usually see in anime. No, Ghibli did an amazing job at keeping their love sweet and honest. I never cried once, though I did fan-girl over the romance and Seiji. LOL
Overall Enjoyment: 10/10
I cannot just watch this movie once in a sitting. No, usually I watch it twice, when I have it. I have yet to own in, but it is on my list if things to buy, at the very top. It's such a cute, honest, beautiful movie, and the manga (Mimi wo Sumaseba) isn't bad either! Ghibli knows how to tell stories that make me smile. Like I said, if I watch this movie when I'm depressed, it lifts all the pain away and makes me happy. Anyone who likes slow paced, pure romances, will love this movie. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone out there. Its worth watching, and you will not be disappointed.
Whisper of the Heart is unique with respect to its Ghibli film counterparts in that it seems almost mundane. Here we have our main heroine Shizuku Tsukishima and her life as a middle school-aged girl. While the film is essentially a slice-of-life with a hint of the "boy-meets-girl" rom-com trope thrown in, the way in which its characters are presented is not only relate-able to the audience but also endearing; an adult could sympathize with Shizuku just as much as a child could. As someone who values character development greatly, I feel that the creators efforts really pay off in showing how our main heroine
develops over a short period of time, providing insight into her stream of consciousness with her full range of emotions on display. Combined with a diverse ensemble of a supporting cast, Shizuku's character really comes to life over the course of the film.
True to form as a Ghibli production, this film complements its character driven narrative with a slew of wall-paper worthy long shots and vibrant animation schemes which I have yet to see that often even in more recent large scale production anime ( there are several such scenes in the latter half of the film, but no spoilers here of course!). Not much else to say here, I recommend you watch the film and see for yourself.
Sound quality in the film was solid throughout. But what really won me over was the Japanese rendition of Jon Denver's country road. Not only was it an impressive rendition by itself, it was incredibly appropriate for the small town slice-of-life feel that the creators seemed to be going for. Even after hearing it on replay throughout the film, I did not tire of that song, which in my opinion, speaks volumes for how fitting the song was for the film's overall atmosphere. Sadly, the other background music did go relatively unnoticed, but upon re-watching the movie and listening to the original soundtrack again, the rest of the background music was quite good as well.
When we think of studio Ghbli we often times think of Hayao Miyazaki and sometimes Isao Takahata. In the case of Whisper of the heart, we have a tale with all the flavor and style reminiscent of these Ghibli greats, and yet was directed by neither Miyazaki nor Takahata but instead by a man named Yoshifumi Kondō, whose life was cut tragically short after the release of his 1st and only film. A darn shame too, because at the time he was considered a legitimate candidate to succeed Miyazaki as head of the studio.
As a film that seems almost forgotten among the plethora of excellent productions from studio Ghibli, Whisper of the Heart is a much watch as an entry level anime for people just getting into the medium and as a deeper exploration into the world of anime film for seasoned veterans out there. In addition, as with all Ghibli films, Whisper of the Heart feels like it was made with a general audience in mind, so you needn't be a fan of slice-of-life to enjoy watching it.
Even if you end up not liking this film I hope you found my review helpful. Of course I am always looking to improve, so feedback is always appreciated.
Just leave a message on my profile thread if you have any comments, criticisms, or just wanna talk about anime!!
Adolescence is among the most memorable phases in one's life. During this time, we tend to make decisions based on adrenaline instincts, work as we wish to, while repudiating any advice. Some of us even develop endearing feelings of love for someone, while also chasing our own dream or even remoulding them for the sake of someone else, often out of inspiration and seldom out of desperation.
Working on the themes of adolescence and infatuation giving rise to a wonderful journey of self discovery, Studio Ghibli presents us with Mimi wo Sumaseba also commonly known as Whisper of the Heart. The story mainly revolves around the
female lead, Shizuku Tsukishima, a junior high school girl living in New Tama Town. The story progresses as Shizuku constantly finds a certain someone, named Seiji Awasama, always issuing books before she does at her town library, which leads her to grow a sense of respect while her imagination weaves together a personality of Seiji as one could only describe as the "Prince Charming of her life." Much to her disappointment, Seiji is any thing but the "prince charming" she had imagined him to be; but Seiji had a unique charm of his own. One thing led to another and soon, Shizuku starts facing typical teenage life problem ranging from the urge to rebel against her parent's wishes, unnecessarily squabbling with her siblings, while also realising she has fallen in love with the "not-the-prince-charming-she-had-imagined", Seiji. Hereby follows a movie about self discovery, presented in the most heartwarming way possible.
Now it may seem like any other teenage-romance on pen and paper, but Whisper of the Heart, has its own charm, specially due to the way it presents itself. The problem with most romance shows now a days is that they tend to be extremely dull or overly melodramatic and their predictable plot structure doesn’t help them much either. While being melodramatic, most also tend to be highly unrealistic with their character interactions, their behaviour, body language and much more which just brings their over all quality down. Whisper of the heart, throws all these out of the window and carves its path through this genre in a rather realistic and dramatic way, without crossing the dreaded line between the dramatic and the melodramatic. Character interactions are seamless and seem as realistic as it can get for a story of such sorts. Characters behave as a mere reflection of any other ordinary teenager, as they would to the shown circumstances and these strokes of realism are even more integrated into the movie with the help of detailed, subtle body language of the the characters through which many emotions are shown, rather than told through mere dialogue exchange.
The characters themselves are rather eccentric even though they are fairly ordinary people. The female lead, Shizuka, is a rather charming and adorable girl. Her relation with her family and her friends is well portrayed through meaningful dialogue. Her monologues of what she thinks about her sister, mother, her best friends and her general view of the situations she faces helps build up her base character along with her relationship with the side characters in a gradual and methodical way. The development that Shizuka goes through the movie, simply put, is phenomenal. From a naive junior high student, who didn’t know what she wanted to do with her talent, and on the bigger scale, with her life; Shizuka realises her field of interest and recognises her talents. Her love for writing also explores her vivid and colourful imagination. She comes to realise the importance of family and meeting up with family expectations, while chasing her individual dream too, but the main motivation behind most of her development is her love interest, Seiji.
Seiji is quite the character himself. He is shown as an ordinary boy, working at his grandfather’s small antique shop, while learning both, to build and play the violin. The development between Seiji and Shizuko’s romantic relationship, albeit a bit cheesy, was handled with great care. While Seiji doesn’t receive as much development as Shizuko on screen, most of his character development is rather implied. While maintaining Seiji’s lively manner, we see a sense of responsibility grow in him which we naturally see in most teens as they go through their phase of adolescence. His growth in sense of responsibility is established through his interactions with Shizuko, specially, the conversation they have on the school rooftop where they realise they have to work their way so that they could live and spend more time together in the future.All these character interactions which lead to their subtle development, was neatly woven together by the skilful hands of the director, Yoshifumi Kondou, who is known for his works in various other critically acclaimed works such as Omoide Poroporo and Akage no Anne as an animation director.
Studio Ghibli has always been known for sending the audience into another magical dimension with their various works, but sometimes, due to the lack of proper direction, the whole magical element backfires, and in the end, the movie tends to become a mess. Thankfully, Whisper of the Heart, is not one of these movies! Even though the movie is highly realistic at its core, Studio Ghibli didn’t stop from adding their key fantasy elements into the movie. And with the efficient direction, these were used to enhance the whole experience of the viewer. Shizuka’s main writing work is dynamically shown, rather than being simply narrated. These scenes range from talking rabbits wearing monocles to riding an air stream to an unknown mysterious castle. All these fantasy elements are integrated into the movie with great caress without leaving deep scars on the strokes of realism, the movie portrays.
The animation delivered by Studio Ghibli, as usual, is fantastic. Great detail is maintained in almost every frame and the movement of characters and the general motion is as fluid as it can get. The landscape scenes are pretty eye candy and the movie is completely devoid of any ugly CGI. There are some great camera angles used when necessary, sometime to show the overarching city while some soothing music plays to evoke a strange feeling of nostalgia. The artistic direction of the movie takes credits when the fantasy world is involved, as the colour palette becomes much more vibrant and animation becomes subtly smoother and camera angles range from the typical to experimental ones where Shizuka is shown riding the winds to the castle.
Along with the magical animation, the movie imbues a deep sense of nostalgia with its musical direction. The movie begins with Olivia Newton John’s cover of the famous song, Country Road, which itself evokes a warm fuzzy feeling in the viewer, making them feel right at home. Other than that particular cover of John Dever’s, country road, a japanese rendition is sung many times in the movie and their placement couldn’t have been more correct which added to the overall atmosphere of the film, whenever they were used. A personal favourite would be when Seiji plays the violin and Shizuka sings along and the elders join in with various other instruments, to create one of the most joyous and heart warming scenes in anime for me personally, but one could feel free to disagree, I guess. Other soundtracks just add to the magic of the film and its overarching, heartwarming atmosphere. To weave such a fantastic atmosphere, and evoke feelings of nostalgia with the music alone, credits must be given to the “music director”, Yuuiji Nomi who is also known for his quirky OST’s in Nichijou.
With all that said and done, I must conclude by saying that Whisper of the Heart is a wonderful coming of age film; and a journey of self discovery. This film has something for everybody to enjoy, whether it be seeing yourself as a teenager grow up in the movie, facing similar problems or for parents, who could see how to co-operate with their child when they’re in their rebellious phase of life and let them freely chase their dreams. The fantastic musical score coupled with the fluid animation has the right balance of drama imbibed into it. It may appear to some as a typical animated work at first glance but once the experience is over, many will quickly realise that Whisper of the Heart is anything but typical.
And yeah, Country Roads, will never be the same again, for me at least.
The story is based on a manga by Aoi Hiiragi. What I like about it is that it focuses on a problem that each of us go to at a certain point in our lives, what we want to be when we grow up. This is usually affected by our own capabilities, dreams, certain circumstances and people around us that either pull us down or help us keep going. I think students can relate to the plot better since they are going through similar to what the characters in the story are.
The characters are drawn in the usual Ghibli style. Although simple, the characters are
able to portray the emotions needed to make the story believable. The background is very well designed and the little details like thrash on the street, pipes from the houses are all there. They make the environment the character moves in more real. I like these aspects bests in the movie.
The music fits the story well, you can get the feel of the story right away and the translation of Country Roads is very amusing.
The main character responds to her problems immaturely at first but we can see her become more responsible as the story progresses.
It's very inspiring once you relate yourself to the plot. It combines a little humor, determination, anger and a little bit of puppy love. A movie you can watch over and over again and pick up ideas from.
I've reviewed a lot of Studio Ghibli films. In January of 2014, one of those films was The Cat Returns. During that review, I mentioned that it's a spin-off loosely connected to this film, Whisper of the Heart. Now, that film was pretty good with plenty of strong elements. Let's look at Whisper of the Heart and see if the same holds true for it.
Shizuku has a pretty easy life. Her parents are easy-going and she has plenty of friends and lots of time to read obsessively. One day, she notices that all of the books she gets from the library seem to have been
checked out by the same guy before her. She's curious about what he could be like and, by sheer coincidence, meets a guy she doesn't know. I'm sure these two plot points are completely unrelated. The film follows Shizuku in her daily life with the focus on two major facets, her budding romantic interest in the boy she barely knows and her coming of age and learning what she wants to do and trying her hardest to follow it.
The biggest flaw with the film is the romance aspect. Our two leads are still in their pubescent stage and, frankly, they have about as much chemistry as Argon has with anything. Yet the narrative treats their barely started relationship as important and serious. I give them a couple months together at most before they break up. The coming of age element, however, is pretty well done and it elegantly illustrates what it's like for someone to discover their passion and immerse herself in it. Aside from those two elements, the film is pretty tedious with very little of interest happening. Honestly, it can be really mind-numbing to slog through.
The characters in the film vary. Some of them are quite dull, having only a really basic purpose to fill before being banished to wherever trite characters go when they've done their bit. Shizuku is a pretty fleshed out and developed character. I will say, most of the characters have enough to them to have verisimilitude, even if they don't ultimately contribute to the narrative all that much.
The artwork and animation are the best aspects of the film. Both are really well done in classic Ghibli fashion. So, if nothing else it is a very pretty, nicely detailed film.
The vocal cast and music are both pretty middling. They're passable, but not good. The stand out performance has to be from Honna Youko, who is coincidentally going to be featured in next week's series too. She does do a really good job, but you also have actors like Tachibana Takashi who just sound bored. The music is fine, unless you really love or hate the song Country Road. Which does get a bit over-used and could start to wear on your nerves, especially if you aren't kindly disposed towards it to begin with.
There really isn't any in this film.
Whisper of the Heart is not a good film. It isn't bad either. It's just a film with a dull narrative, bland characters and excellent artwork. If you really like slow slice of life works, you might enjoy it. Otherwise, I can't really recommend it. Especially when Studio Ghibli has so many really strong films that are filled with intrigue and adventure. My final rating is going to be a 5/10. So, this month we've looked at Nuku Nuku Dash in honour of Hyashibara Megumi month, Yuru Yuri San Hai in honour of yuri month and now this in honour of Ghibli month. Next week we harken back to last year's magical girl month with a look at Futari wa Precure: Max Heart.
Whisper of the Heart perfectly captures the anxieties of growing up and finding your place in the world, and the anxieties faced by any creator finding their creative voice, weaving the two into a spectacular coming-of-age story.
It's surprising that this is one of few Ghibli movies to not be directed by either Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata (although Miyazaki was heavily involved with other elements of its production). It possesses both Miyazaki's incredible skill at visual storytelling, and Takahata's subtle mastery of conveying plot through emotion.
It's almost redundant to say this of any Ghibli movie, but the production job here is incredible. The background art
is incredible, even moreso than in most of their movies. Despite its urban/suburban setting, the movie manages to seem almost like a fairytale (which is certainly not accidental, as this is a common theme within the movie's plot).
More impressive is the characterisation. The leads, Shizuku and Seiji, aren't especially unique in their own right, but they're not intended to be. This makes them much easier to relate to. While that would run the risk of making them uninteresting, the way their thoughts and feelings are conveyed in this movie, through subtle details in expressions, or through subtext in dialogue, rather than through unique character traits, makes them seem utterly organic and real, like actual people with worries and doubts and passions like us, not like something a writer thought up.
The whole movie is rich in subtle nuance. For example, Shizuku is working on a set of lyrics in the first half of the movie. The first and second time we hear them, they're remarkably different - the second one is influenced by her first fairytale experience in the movie. It never feels the need to state it, but the way the new lyrics mirror her experience, it's clear how much it meant to her.
This nuance carries over to the main plot of the movie - Shizuku being impressed by Seiji's craftsmanship at making violins, and his passion for becoming great at it inpires an insecurity in her about her own ability to create things and her lack of purpose. Along a backdrop of teenage drama and angst, it parallels the same struggle of growing up that we all follow, but it's never spelled out.
Final Words: Whisper of the Heart is an exceptionally well-told story, and one that feels very much "from the heart". It easily stands as my favourite Ghibli movie.
Yoshifumi Kondo's first and only film for Studio Ghibli (he died a few years after it was completed), WHISPER OF THE HEART, is an absolute delight. Gentle but not syrupy, this modern-day story about a girl and boy discovering that they have a lot in common is beautifully animated, compellingly characterized, and full of heart (pun intended).
Based on a graphic-novel by Aoi Hiragi with a script by Hayao Miyazaki, the movie centers on Shizuku Tsukishima, a somewhat absent-minded but sympathetic young High School student who would rather read books from the library rather than study for her school tests. Shizuku discovers that a certain
Seiji Amasawa checks out the same books that she does, as detailed on the library checkout cards. When Shizuku first meets Seiji in person, she thinks he's a "stupid jerk" (he makes a somewhat snide remark about her supposedly "corny" writing abilities), but she soon discovers that he is a strangely gentle fellow who longs to become a violinist yet feels that his playing isn't as good as others say it is. Shizuku can relate to this, given that she doubts her talents as a writer. The story takes a dramatic turn when Shizuku discovers that Seiji will be temporarily leaving for Italy to train as a violinist. This inspires Shizuku to pursue her own talent, and she proceeds to write her first story.
At the surface, this would sound like a rather simple love story, but that's not all WHISPER OF THE HEART has going for it. Miyazaki's screenplay ingeniously allows the viewers to identify with Shizuku as she expresses the following emotions: frustration, disappointment, fear, joy, and vulnerability. This is displayed not only in her growing relationship with Seiji, but with her daily interactions with her friends, family, and her inner thoughts. We even see Shizuku deal with humiliation (and even guilt) when a boy reveals he had a crush on her all along, yet she only considered him a friend. Sometimes certain movies can delve a little too much on these angst-ridden elements, but in WHISPER OF THE HEART, this is handled in a way that is not so overbearing (or frustrating even) to the viewer.
The film also works in a subplot involving a captivating antique shop containing all kinds of sparkling treasures, including a charming statuette of a cat known as "Baron". The kindly owner, Mr. Nishi, is warm and supportive of Shizuku, especially when she decides to write her story based on the aforementioned "Baron" statue. He reminded me of Uncle Pom from CASTLE IN THE SKY, a similarly gentle old man who sadly only showed up for one scene; having this kind of character play an even bigger role in WHISPER is a delight.
Speaking of which, the scenes where Shizuku imagines her story are among the movie's most imaginatively animated moments. The film's artwork, typical of Ghibli, is top notch, but one particular sequence (one of the studio's first experiments with computer animation) is especially stunning. Here we see the Baron come alive and escort a fair young maiden (who strangely resembles Shizuku) across a graceful sky of floating islets. The character of the Baron is quite charismatic and one of the more memorable characters in the film; the only other notable feline we see is a pudgy furball known as Moon (aka Muta), who appears quite grumpy whenever Shizuku tries to talk to him.
Incidentally, both of these felines appeared in another Studio Ghibli production, THE CAT RETURNS, a pleasant but merely forgettable family flick considered by many (myself included) as an inferior spin-off. Not that Hiroyuki Morita's film doesn't have any charm, but WHISPER has something that THE CAT RETURNS didn't have, hence why it holds up better.
Interestingly, John Denver's immortal "Take Me Home, Country Roads" plays a crucial part in the story: the first half of the movie deals with Shizuku trying to translate the song into Japanese. This part of the story obviously gave Disney a lot of problems in terms of translation, hence why it was delayed from its English release for quite some time. Fortunately, their dub handles it in a way that remains true to the original intent, yet at the same time makes it easier for American audiences to connect with. Here Shizuku tries to write her own lyrics for the song, with each attempt improving as she learns to write from the heart. This approach works rather well, as I could sense little, if any, lost in the translation.
As much as I've heard people criticize Disney for the actors they've chosen to voice the characters in their dubs for Ghibli's works, I have practically enjoyed every one of their voice casts (save perhaps THE WIND RISES). WHISPER OF THE HEART is another one of my favorite dubs from them. As the insecure Shizuku, Brittany Snow speaks in a very expressive, believable way without being saccharine, and has an equally lovely singing voice. David Gallagher--no stranger to voice acting, given his work in KINGDOM HEARTS--provides an excellent contrast to Snow through his understated yet effective turn as Seiji. Cary Elwes reprises his role as the debonair Baron from THE CAT RETURNS. The person who takes the prize for best acting in the dub, though, is Harold Gould, who brings just the right amount of warmth, poignancy, and compassion to the kindly Mr. Nishi. Of course there will always be fans who prefer the Japanese version, but for me, the dub gets my vote.
However you choose to see WHISPER OF THE HEART, this is another winner from one of Japan's greatest animation studios. I never expected to love it as much as I did, and chances are you will too, if you allow yourself to be charmed by its warm heart.
The best way I can describe the experience of watching Whisper of the Heart is to compare it to a critical scene in the film itself, where the protagonist Shizuku first stumbles across the old antique shop that will come to serve as her inspiration. It’s a quiet, stuffy, ancient place, tarnished trinkets from bygone ages covered in the dust and cobwebs of time’s unyielding march forward. It would be so easy to overlook such a quiet, shut-off corner of the universe in today’s much more active world. Yet there’s something enchanting about the place that can’t help but draw you in. There’s a real
magic in these stodgy old antiques, their old luster still shining through the rust. And the longer the seconds pass, Shizuku’s gaze fixating on an enigmatic statue of a besuited cat with gleaming emerald eyes, you realize that this quaint little shop has wormed its way into your heart, like an old memory you only just remembered was special to you. It’s a quiet, pensive kind of love rather an a boistrous, energized love, but that in and of itself has its own special charm. And that’s really Whisper of the Heart in a nutshell: an unexpectedly blissful delight of a film, winning you over bit by bit until you easily surrender to its simple, homespun charm.
The story, easily the most naturalistic and grounded of any Miyazaki film I’ve seen thus far, centers around Shizuku, your typical junior high student living in the big city. Living in a cramped apartment with her family and going through the same routine day in, day out, she can’t help but long for excitement and adventure, some way to inspire a change in her listless life. That opportunity presents itself when she follows a wandering cat on a whim and ends up at the aforementioned antique shop, and her long-gestating creative aspirations start bubbling forth. Slowly but surely, she realizes that she may be a writer at heart, and the film follows her artistic awakening over the course of an otherwise ordinary year in an otherwise ordinary life. There’s a mysterious name that keeps popping up on slips of all the library books she checks out, a crisis with a friend’s one-sided crush, a somewhat arrogant classmate whom she slowly grows close to, and the guidance of the shop’s elderly caretaker, a man whose sense of whimsy and imagination inspire her to take life into her own hands. And all along the way, she’s faced with a choice between the stability and safety of walking down the same path... or taking a leap of faith and following the dream she’s only just realizing she had.
It’s that central question that elevates Whisper of the Heart from a good film to a genuinely great one: whether or not it’s worth taking the risk to follow your dreams when the potential consequences are so terrifying to think about. I’m an amateur fiction writer myself; I actually wrote my first novel at the age of 10, and I’ve been refining and updating it over the years. And I can tell you this, the way this film depicts Shizuku’s literary struggles was painfully real at times. Writing a story- hell, pretty much any creative art- is one of the most emotionally vulnerable hobbies one can pursue. It requires you to look inside yourself for you own truths, display those secret parts of yourself for the world to see, and pray to god people understand it. A criticism of something you poured your heart and soul into can’t help but feel like an attack on you yourself. It’s anxiety-producing as hell, is my point. And sometimes, it can be really hard to put yourself out there and get those words down, because there’s always that nagging thought that they’ll never speak the same truths on the page as they did in your head. Even if it’s something you love doing, the stress of allowing yourself to be that vulnerable, both to others’ opinions and your own self-critique, can be so overwhelming that at times you wonder if it’s even worth the effort.
And it’s that fact that Whisper of the Heart nails along every step of Shizuku’s coming of age. Her self-doubt was my self-doubt; her inability to see the value in what she could do, while holding everyone else up on a pedestal, is the struggle any young artist will inevitably go through. The boy she becomes close to is an aspiring violin maker, and she can’t help but compare herself negatively to his high pedigree, unable to realize that he sees the same value in her work that she sees in his. That particular nugget of truth has been one of the hardest things for me to internalize over my many years working on creative projects alongside people whose talent I recognize more than my own; you always see the best in everyone else over yourself, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still seeing the best in you. It’s such a truthfully realized depiction of coming into your own as an agent of your own voice, learning how to trust yourself and let your hang-ups fall by the wayside. I’m actually feeling legitimately inspired to recommit to some old projects I’ve left by the wayside and give them the attention and care I know they deserve. That’s the magic of this film; it understands how hard the creative process is, but also how rewarding it is when you finally let people in to the weird, wild world you want to share with them.
Aiding that sense of wonder is the film’s presentation, which, like I mentioned above, apes a very deliberate quaint, nostalgic aesthetic, almost like it’s preserved in amber from the ravages of time. It’s easily Miyazaki’s most realistic work yet, eschewing the fantastical imagery of his previous films (aside from a few visually gorgeous cutaways to the story Shizuku ends up writing) in favor of the cozy naturalism of whatever the Japanese equivalent of a Rockerfeller painting is. It’s got a corny throwback sort of vibe, between the warm summer colors, lush and homespun score, and the occasionally treacly dialogue all delivered expertly by the dub cast, all intended to put you in the same mindset as Shizuku herself, awash in the possibilities and desire to just put your pen to the page and get out the unfiltered mess of imagination swirling around in your head. In any lesser film it would be too much of a throwback, sinking into cheesy histrionics and feeling as stuffy and outdated as a gas lantern. But excepting maybe a handful of overly corny moments, the sincerity shines through, and much like that old antique shop, you find yourself getting swept up in the simple magic and feeling energized to explore everything it has to offer.
Whisper of the Heart is the best kind of simple, the kind of simple that you’ve seen a million times before but never get tired of going back for more of. It’s a moving portrait of an artist’s awakening and coming of age wrapping in a feel-good package of Ghibli-branded whimsy and comfort. I get the feeling this is a film I’ll be coming back to a lot; they way it speaks to my experience as a young writer is truly remarkable. It’s a portrait of an ordinary life in search of something much more extraordinary, and in that process it finds it own unique magic that I will likely be revisiting many times to come.
A beautiful story that is so true-to-life and poignant...
The characters have the depth to give what might have been merely another daily life story that magical twist that has made Studio Ghibli so iconic.
With the honest depiction of the struggles teenagers encounter when facing "growing up" and the obvious thought put into every scene, the whole film moves the characters from nondescript children to young adults destined for something more. A coming-of-age that is anything but ordinary.
There's really no more to say for it. Simply outstanding.
I have no idea why people enjoyed this movie. I have never been a very big appreciator of these Miyazaki stamped films, although I don't necessarily dislike them all, but this film is the worst of them I've seen. Lets go through the details.
The animation is in constant conflict. While the backgrounds have some fairly impressive detail, the moving parts of the animation are inconsistent and often poorly done and all movement is extremely choppy. The backgrounds and characters also don't seem to work very well together in some situations as if they exist on different layers. Another example of
this disconnect between background and the moving pieces is Scooby Doo, where it seems as if they locked the animators for the characters and those for the background in different rooms and never showed each other the other's work.
The sound is downright annoying some of the time. I dislike the use of Take Me Home Country Roads as essentially the theme song of the movie and each time characters sang in the movie it proved more annoying than impactful in any way, and the rewrites the main character made were pretty terrible. Also this film takes one from many other Japanese films and employs the "roaring ambiance," the obnoxious cicada and other such random noises. Aside from that the miscellaneous background music is not noteworthy, although sometimes not very very well selected, and the voice actors are generally fine.
Finally, the story and characters have basically nothing going for them. The characters are generally not believable and flat, the randomness of dialogue is off-putting, the story is slow and boring.
First off, the "romantic element" of this movie feels artificial and forced. The initial romantic triangle doesn't make any sense because we don't even know the character's relationships with each other in the first place. When the female lead says she was friends forever with the dude, I didn't even know they talked. It's also extremely awkward and all the characters fill stereotypical roles, the shy girl, the mediator (main character) and the idiot guy.
As for the main romance of the movie, the proposal at the end was extremely annoying and I couldn't take it seriously at all. Checking out books to get someone's attention is the absolute dumbest thing I've heard, the most hilarious line of the movie being Shizuku wondering if he was handsome just seeing his name in the books.
Oh it's also a great romance when the girl doesn't even know who the guy is and he just inexplicably likes her.
So yes, in the end, all of these elements mix together to form a sub-par community "classic" that I wouldn't recommend to anyone.
I'm not a great fan of Studio Ghibli's films, but this one is definitely worth seeing.
The main plot is quite simple but its plain beauty makes it endearing rather than dull. The pacing is very relaxed, fitting with the general nostalgic atmosphere of the story. Of course there're a few flaws, such as a few very cheesy scenes (ie ending) and a side plot which feels somewhat out of place and is almost separate from the main storyline (the couple at Shizuku's school).
The backgrounds are excellent. Not only are they detailed, but also have a certain artsy charm that makes them stand out among the
sea of look-alike anime depictions of urban landscapes. The only thing that could be improved about these are the colours, as they feel a bit faded. The characters, however, in classic Ghibli traditions are mediocre at best - overly round faces, unnatural movements, ever-open mouths, colourless eyes - definitely the lowest point of this review.
The sound in this movie (both voices and background audio) is strikingly great. I was very surprised to find a 15 year old movie with such quality audio - it has probably the best channel distribution I've yet to hear, so that even with my badly arranged (all on one desk) 5.1 system it sounded as if I was sitting right next to the characters. The theme song Country Roads fits very well with the rest of the movie and completes the atmosphere without being in-your-face.
Both main characters are extremely generic - to me they felt identical to the ones in Laputa and the heroine of The Cat Returns, and very similar to the rest of Ghibli's movies. Nonetheless, they're likeable and go through enough character growth during the movie to be more than skin deep. There's also the fact that they seem to act a bit too childishly for their age.
This is the best thing about this film. Its depiction of an innocent childhood and puppy love is very realistic and brings on a sweet sense of nostalgia. My own childhood was much closer to what's depicted here than any other anime I've seen (or any live action movie, for that matter), so it strikes close to heart with me. The little slice-of-life details are a nice touch, though that does keep the main story in the background for most of the movie's length.
Overall, despite the few flaws it has, Whisper of the Heart is a classic that I would recommend for anyone who can appreciate a nostalgic laid-back love story and doesn't mind the occasional bit of naivete and cheesiness.
Finally, even though the average of the 4 separate scores is closer to an 8 than a 9, I do think that in this particular case the total is much more than the sum of its parts so it does deserve a 9 overall score.
High school has always been a popular setting for anime. Most anime associate high school with slice of life, comedy, romance, and of late, harem. This has worked out very well for most anime, but there was one little thing that always bugged me for some reason – it was all just a backdrop and never actually felt like one. The teachers are non-existent, the school is magically empty when the male and the female lead need to be alone and most importantly, the main characters were always a two-goody shoes or a precocious little punk, on whose shoulders the fate of the world rests.
Even an anime called “School Days” revolved less around the actual school days. Very few anime actually use this backdrop to carve a story out of.
And one of them is Whisper of the Heart, an anime movie produced by Studio Ghibli in collaboration with Walt Disney studios. Released around 15 years ago, this movie continues to be entertaining to this day.
Whisper of the Heart is a relaxing two hour movie about the confused and enigmatic junior high student, Shizuku. Troubled on what to do after graduating, she finds solace in reading fairytales. On the way to the library, she meets a cat, who she follows to a quaint shop called “The World Emporium”. There she meets people and objects which help her listen to the whispers of her heart.
There’s not much to the story, really. This movie was primarily meant for children, so don’t go in expecting any complex plot with devious twists and turns. It is a very simple tale on how Shizuku tries to discover her true talents. That said, it does not mean that this feature is uninteresting. It was amazing how such a timid storyline kept me entertained for two whole hours.
The animation is trademark Ghibli style, with the chubby girls, detailed backgrounds and the smiling characters. But you know that when two heavyweights such as Ghibli and Disney come together, they sure aren’t going to fail on the technical aspect. Their previous collaborations (Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle) are testament to that fact.
The music is peaceful and fits the bill. The movie’s main song, Country Road, is a lovely number and very catchy.
The cast is pretty small, but it’s good. The protagonist is Shizuku, a spunky junior high student. Her good-humored family and friends comprise the rest of the cast, but I’m not going to go to deep into that. The casual voice-acting fits in well with the anime’s atmosphere.
The reason why Whisper of the Heart is so charming is because of its impeccable attention to detail. Just trust me when I say that the level of detailing to the characters’ unconscious actions and the constantly active background is ridiculously high. Things like a pencil lead snapping when writing furiously, pulling back of the skirt when sitting down, moving to the side of the road when an occasional car passes by, spacing out when looking out the window...I could go on all day. Long story short, this anime looks and feels very natural. The director and the storyboard artists have clearly put their heart and soul into making this anime, and it reflects on the quality of the movie.
But, when it’s all said and done, this movie does have its fair share of flaws. The start is extremely slow paced and I can already see a few people dozing off by the half hour mark. The show can be a bit melancholy at times and this is quite strange, seeing that it was meant for children. The ending was abrupt and could’ve used more build up.
All in all, Whispers of the Heart is a lovely movie that is sure to put a smile on your face with its realistic take on a girl’s junior high life.
[ THE WRAP-UP ]
Whisper of the Heart is your usual Studio Ghibli movie. Although aimed at a younger audience, this pleasant anime is a fun ride for kids and a nostalgic journey for adults. The show’s plot is simple, but it has a way of engulfing you into the picturesque world of the characters. The unimpeachable detailing to the characters’ actions adds on to the already realistic anime. The show takes its own sweet time to get off its feet and the ending was a bit off. But you can look past these shortcomings, because of the charming shojo elements that it oozes. Although the movie is 15 years old, it is able to hold its own in the audio visual department. Like the ore from which precious metals are extracted, this movie is rough, unpolished and natural. And that is exactly what makes it completely worth your time. Like, the MAL score of 8 says, Whispers of the Heart is a very good anime. No more, no less.
A classic Japanese anime with a classic Western song, this anime is so underrated in many ways. Country road, coincidentally, was also sang by Merlin in Kingsman when he sacrificed himself to save his friends, listening to the Japanese version of it gave me extra feels and it's especially amazing.
This is a simple story with a simple setting in a simple town, a girl and a boy met by fate set out to chase their dream, one to become a story writer while the other to become a famous violin maker. It starts off with a mysterious ambience
to lay the foundation and to keep the mystery up for the reveal.
On the surface, it's an anime with mystery and fantasy genre where she experienced something that will change her outlook on her future, chasing her own dream and polishing her hidden skills with time and effort and her love in reading for it to shine and for her words to reach someone that she loved. Deep inside, is a green germ to be discovered, a beautiful and pure love story. Portrayed by the cat dolls in the story, a love story that is bitter sweet and too vague to be real, and yet too hard to just let it go.
Overall, this is a classic anime that is worthy of time to see for a change, and it might in some way changes you but it will definitely be enjoyable if you opt for something simple and nice to take a breath from everything else. And the only question remain will be, are you willing to discover it?
Honestly, it was really boring to me that I almost fell asleep. Also the ending just came out of no where. Idk is this is a spoiler but I don't care because this movie is like 22 years old, but when the 2 main characters were like, "We should get married someday."..."Yeah! We should!"... then the credits just roll up. I was like..."Wait....That's the ending?" It caught me by surprise.
The Story was boring, I couldn't get myself into it. It's just about this nerd girl who loves to read and she learns new things and she hangs out with this kid who she has
a bit of a crush on later on. Idk, there just wasn't much too it.
Whisper of the Heart is unusual for a Studio Ghibli film in not featuring any magic, or at least nothing supernatural. That said, it is at least as much about magic as many of their films full of witches and spirits and demons. Rather than the usual fantastic adventure stories which are merely facilitated by magic, this is a celebration of story-telling, music, creativity and love - all the sorts of things that make real life magical.
Our heroine is Shizuku, a girl of around fourteen who dreams of being a writer, and like most aspiring writers she reads heavily. Borrowing book after book from the
library, she keeps noticing one name re-appearing as a previous borrower in them - a boy at her school, who shows some interest before being unreasonably mean to her, in the way that boys usually are when they're attracted to a girl, at least in Hayao Miyazaki films.
Their paths cross again after she befriends the owner of a wonderful antiques shop, where her imagination is sparked an old statuette of a cat with glowing eyes. The owner turns out to be the boy's grandfather, part of a welcoming clan, and they bond over music sessions and the telling of stories. The boy dreams of being a master violin maker, his ambition mirroring and inspiring her own.
Whisper is sometimes described as a prequel to the equally lovely The Cat Returns, but this is a very different sort of a film with little in common by way of plot, characters or atmosphere. The Cat Returns might be better described as a sequel to the story Shizuku writes here about 'Baron, the Cat Baron' - perhaps it's an example of her more mature work. In contrast to the later film, a swashbuckling romp mainly set in the magical Cat Kingdom, Whisper is low-key, mundane and understated. I don't mean to make it sound boring - it absolutely isn't - but it lacks the hyperactivity of so many films aimed at kids, though with its simple charm and moral lessons I assume they really are intended to be its main audience.
Miyazaki, who adapted the screenplay from a graphic novel but did not direct this, is not someone who feels the need to steer clear of sentimentality. Some people might find it cloying at one or two points, but I have to say I feared much, much worse from a film with a name like 'Whisper of the Heart' - which is perhaps unfair, since the original title translates as 'if you listen closely'. On the whole it manages to be sweet without being sickly, and I love the animation and the quiet way the characters develop. The only fault I could find is for me, I was expecting, I don't know, more from a Miyazaki film. After all, this is the franchise which brought us movies such as Princess Mononoke or Porco Rosso.
Today this enchanting work of art is completing 21 years. A Studio Ghibli production directed by the late Yoshifumi Kondō, with Hayao Miyazaki on the screenplay, Whisper of the Heart takes us to the life of Shizuku, a 14 year old girl that lives her day-to-day without worrying about anything. She likes to read a lot of books, to write poetry and to translate songs in foreign languages. Her life changes when she meets Amasawa Seiji, a boy that has a dream of becoming a violin luthier and is already training to do so. By meeting him, she starts to think about things concerning her
future that never got through her head and then her life starts to take a different direction. I should say that it isn’t only her life that changes, but also the one of those who watch this film with their hearts open.
At first sight, the movie may seem like a simple romance, but in fact it is about the search for inspiration and creativity, about the yearnings of a girl in expressing her feelings and her art by the means of writing and how the process to do this is long and exhausting. Then let me express my extreme affection and admiration for this masterpiece.
The animation is set in a real life location called Tama New Town, Japan. The landscapes are drawn in such a perfectionist manner with a magnificent harmony between lines, shapes and colors that our eyes start to get watery. That’s how beautiful it is. There are certain parts that the drawing of the scenery is so gorgeous and similar to real life that you have to pause the movie and ask yourself how someone can draw something as wonderful and enthralling as that. The meticulous color distribution also has an extremely important role on the film’s visual, since they shape the atmosphere of several situations and make you feel comfortable. I may not understand a lot about painting, but I can recognize a wonderfully done work of art.
The director, Yoshifumi Kondō, unfortunately left us a lot earlier than he should. He's a master of character design. The gestures, expressions and how the characters act in any situation are represented in such a masterful way that only Studio Ghibli can do, especially with Kondō on the helm. The director is behind the key animation for several of the studio’s work from the period '88 – '97 and always makes his characters as expressive as possible, without using the cliché anime devices.
Besides, Kondō also has a unique approach in the world of animation where he shows the daily life to those who have the pleasure to be amazed by one of his works. He has a book called Futo furiekaeru to, literally “When I turn around”, which is composed of illustrations that shows what someone loses the opportunity to see when they turn around. In this beautiful work you’ll see children looking at their reflex on the water, a woman picking flowers, a mother helping her son to build a snowman, a casual conversation on a cold day, amongst other things in daily life. These “things” that seems to be trivial are also shown in this movie, 'cause they’re elements of the day-to-day that we don’t care about most of the times, but that can make us realize certain aspects of our life that go unnoticed.
Still following this genial line of thought that makes Kondō and his production completely singular, the film tries to show moments of our daily life that had a certain impact on us, but that we didn’t really notice when we lived them. A walk to school in a rainy day, the love declaration from a friend, the talk with your parents about your performance in school, the night conversation with a friend… These are the things that, when we lived them, would stay with us for some moments and then be forgotten on behalf of something else that would occupy our turbulent young mind. We just start to realize how these things were really important to ourselves with the reality shock this animation gives us.
I think we all got through some moments when we needed to stay alone and reflect on how our life was going. We still do. When you wander around without anywhere to go, get aboard a train, look at the scenery, stay still on a random place…just to have a time alone with yourself. Those “life reflecting pauses” are extremely faithfully represented in Whisper of the Heart. The way she looks at the landscape feels like we were there where she was, mesmerizing the view. These scenes aren’t rushed, so that the character has her time to think. Shizuku isn’t just a film character – she’s a people like everyone else and we’re watching her life. Moments of reflection like these are crucial to the development of her thoughts.
The landscapes from the fantasy sequences, product of Shizuku’s wonderful mind, are inspired by the fantastic works of the Japanese painter Naohisa Inoue, where magic transcends the screen and delights us with idyllic sceneries, flowing with colors and full of brilliance. For those interested in his work, there’s an OVA called Iblard Jikan, composed entirely by his fantasy paintings. I can guarantee that you’re going to relax, feel at ease and be enthralled.
In a movie where a violin maker is portrayed, it’s obvious the music wouldn’t be treated just as a simple soundtrack, as a mere accompaniment to the image we’re watching. No. The compositions here are like they’ve came straight from Shizuku’s mind, fitting perfectly her feelings into every situation of her life. By listening to these songs that represent her state of happiness or determination in my daily life, the same feelings she felt start to dominate and inspire me. I’m not ashamed to say I weeped a lot while I listened any of these wonderful compositions while I was on the train, 'cause they have this power of touching you deep in your heart.
One of the main plot points in the movie is centered on a song Shizuku’s translating as a way of expressing herself. This song is called "Take Me Home, Country Roads", by John Denver. Those who like country and folk music sure know this composition, especially who lives in West Virginia. The fact is that the 14-year old girl likes to express herself through music translations, adapting them according to her feelings. One of the versions she made is called “Concrete Roads”, where the natural landscapes from the original version are changed to concrete roads in the lyrics, reflecting the place she lives.
The difficulty to make music is represented in Whisper of the Heart in their two protagonists – Shizuku translates and adapts foreign language lyrics, like if she was rewriting them, and Seiji makes violins, the practice of which he notes “The quality of a violin depends on the quality of its luthier”. Doing so, the film explores a much deeper layer on the subject of music making, after all it doesn’t approaches only the sound of the art, but the full process, from the making of the instruments to the performance of a song, while also showing all the difficulty that revolves this process. After all, the music is the manifestation of oneself and the production team of this movie knew that they shouldn’t only scratch the surface – they knew they had to dig deep into the roots.
And with all that said, we reach the musical apex of Whisper of the Heart. When Shizuku finds out that Seiji is a violin maker, she asks for him to play the instrument. To her surprise, the boy says that he’ll only play if she sings together. And what would be the best suited song for the situation? “A song you know very well”, as he puts – Country Roads. The scene that follows is the most beautiful I have watched in my whole life in any animation or audiovisual production. With Seiji playing violin, Shizuku sings with fear and awe until her heart is taken by that magic moment in which an unequalled feeling of happiness overflows the small room where a completely spontaneous performance is happening. The natural way this happens puts any Disney’s musical act to the ground. I’ve watched this movie for the fourth time this Saturday and the feeling of overjoy and enchant this scene provides is so enormous that I found myself clinging to my pillow as I cried of happiness, with a gaping mouth that refused to close. What happens on this scene is real and unfeigned, you can FEEL that moment. I’m writing this with tears on my eyes. Thanks, Studio Ghibli, for providing such a unique experience as that.
Ever since I realized who I were, I was pessimist. Always complaining about everything even if the situation was great. I had an ideology that if something good happened, something bad would follow. Today I can say that I’m more than glad, ‘because I have finally left that flawed thinking that made it impossible for me to enjoy several situations in my life. But what could’ve caused this change of thoughts? This movie. This beautiful animation taught me how to appreciate the small things of life that are often considered trivial, and the most important of all, it has recovered my self-confidence. That lack of will due to not believing in myself simply doesn’t exists anymore, ‘cause this picture teaches that we have to show our art not just to the world, but mainly to ourselves.
Just as the protagonist Shizuku, I have started to “put myself to the test”, to test my abilities and to believe in them, something I didn’t do. I must admit that sometimes I still get reluctant about my own capacities, but then I remember that I have created a bond with the character of this movie. By looking at her, I can see myself, because her yearnings are the same as mine’s, her difficulties are the same as mine’s. Once again I say that she’s not a simple anime character – she’s a real person. Her life story is portrayed with such faithfulness that I can feel what she feels. Every cry, every smile of joy, every determination moment expressed by Shizuku touches me in a way that it’s like she was a part of me. It’s with her that I get the strength to go onwards.
There’s something Seiji’s grandfather said that served as inspiration for her just as it did to me and I hope it does to everyone else that gets through the same difficulties concerning lack of self-confidence:
- Look inside this rock. It’s a beryl mineral, there’s an emerald inside.
- Emerald, the precious rock?
- Yes. You and Seiji are like this rock. A raw, unpolished mineral. I like this kind of thing. But making violins and writing stories isn’t the same thing. You must find the jewel inside you and have time to polish it. It’s an exhausting task. Can you see the big jewel that is hidden in this rock? The truth is that once you have polished it, you won’t get nothing big. The small fragments, hidden deep inside, are even more pure. In fact, there are better crystals there, where you can’t see them.
Do as Mr. Nishi says - search for the jewel hidden deep inside you.
A dream I have the urge to fulfill in the future is to visit the setting of this movie, New Tama Town. I’m sure I would fell in tears just to think I would be following the same steps Shizuku took, looking to the sides and recognizing the places of a city I’ll be visiting for the first time.
IN THE END...
If there’s an inspiration that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life, it is Whisper of the Heart. An animation that does exactly what the title says and that’s why it will always have an enormous place deep in my heart. All these words I have written still aren’t enough to express my gratitude towards this piece of art that changed the direction of my life from the darkness of insecurity to the dawn of positivity, but I couldn’t let the anniversary of this masterpiece go unnoticed. If everything to me before were bad omens, now all I see in front of me are auspicious times.
I hope that the masterpiece of Yoshifumi Kondo and Studio Ghibli continues to fascinate and inspire anyone who likes to express himself through any means of art, be it through music, writing, drawing… This is a timeless work of art that will never age due to the love the production team has deposited in it and that has been absorbed by me the best way possible.
I found that the movie is very stop and start mixed with some "whats going on?" and "what are they talking about?". I didn't understand how these two kids who barely interacted were suddenly like "lets get married when I come back from Italy making violins!". That sentence alone was confusing enough for me. I think the message was supposed to be something along the lines of "Follow your dreams!" but it feels different from other Studio Ghibli movies that have a lot more love put into them. It just feels generic. But a Ghibli movie is a Ghibli movie so I can't say
that it didn't keep my attention. The scene where they all sing together was a nice touch and was pretty much the best part of the movie.
Studio Ghibli never fails in the art aspect. Their clean and comfortable style drew me in and I really can't say there was any point I thought the art was bad. No, it was exactly up to Ghibli standards so I can't be disappointed on that front.
Again, Ghibli can't fail on the technical aspects
The characters were confusing. The one girl wanted to be an author but for some unexplained reason she's really isolated and on numerous occasions diminishes her own worth. By the end she still feels that way except now? she has a fiancee? And the guy character was totally underdeveloped. He didn't have nearly enough screen time for this to be a love story (or whatever it was?) and I would've liked to see more of him and her interacting. Don't get me wrong, I loved their visual designs, but as fleshed out characters they seemed lacking in a lot of ways.
It kept my attention but I wouldn't watch it again. I wouldn't say it was a waste of time because its always on the "most underrated ghibli films of all time" list. So now I don't have to sit and wonder why it was so underrated. I know now.
The technical portion of the film was well done but the story felt a little too bare bones compared to what I'm used to seeing from Ghibli
What can I say about Studio Ghibli's Tenth Film, Whisper of the Heart?
Well, let's start with the story. The film focuses on a love story between two middle-school students, and their unexpected meeting. It goes in a few different directions from there, changing focus to the everyday trials and tribulations of a person's life. Anyway, the tale is told wonderfully, with each scene presented in a joyful almost fantasy-like nature. That's not to say the characters or their interactions are fantastical, quite the opposite, everything comes off as incredibly realistic. I guess the story just has a sort of dream-like quality to it, having heartwarming
scenes that are strung together, while still being able to come off as genuine and not cheesy.
I feel like part of that has to do with the characters. The characters are presented in such a realistic fashion that any of the moments that would otherwise be cheesy or corny end up feeling natural and lifelike. All of the characters, even the supporting ones, all feel incredibly authentic, like they have a life that they're living, and have real emotions to them, real joy, real troubles.
Part of that emotion certainly comes from the wonderful voice cast. I watched it in Japanese, and all of the actors did a magnificent job, splendidly conveying their characters, and making the script really shine.
The film also has a wonderful score, composed by Nomi Yuuji. Each scene is accompanied by a piece of music that perfectly fits the mood, and really adds to the overall feel. The main theme, "Country Roads", also shows up as a reprise throughout the score, and because the song has such a significance to the film's narrative, it paints a wonderful picture, and fits impeccably. I couldn't imagine any other score accompanying this film. It's absolutely beautiful.
The art gives us some really beautifully crafted scenes, as well. Colors are bright and vibrant when they need to be, and desaturated and melancholy when trying to set a specific mood. Everything moves fluidly and animates wonderfully, and there are even moments where the art and animation took my breath away. However, there are also moments where the art just feels serviceable. Still, even in these moments, the art was well-crafted, just not quite as gorgeous as it is in some of the other scenes. The art is definitely dated, but it still holds up, even when compared to modern day animated films.
Overall, Whisper of the Heart tells a simple tale, one of joy, one of sadness, one of life. It's a realistic story that I think anybody would be able to relate to, with some fantastic moments that shows just how beautiful life can be, even with all of it's adversity. On top of that, it also has some beautiful art, and a wonderfully crafted score.
Whisper of the Heart is another Studio Ghibli film that focuses of love, life, and what it is like to be a teenager. It is a bit sappy and predictable, but if love stories are your thing then you will probably like this film. To put it short, the story is about a bibliophile who dreams of living in a fairy tale until she meets a special someone who shows her that fairy tales can be a reality if one looks hard enough.
The story of Whisper of the Heart is a heartfelt and somewhat realistic story of what life could
be like for a young girl who dreams of love and adventure while reading countless stories about fiction and fairy tales. It starts slow and finishes slow. I am a bit surprised there was enough to the story that it would fill nearly two hours. It flows like a slice of life story and leaves you feeling inspired and encouraged like most slice of life stories should. What I found to be the most interesting element about the film was the few references to other previous and future Ghibli films. It was fun to try to pick out the little references here and there to see to which film they could go. That is all I will say about the subject. It is up to you to find the references yourself.
The animation was great. What else would you expect from a Studio Ghibli film? There is not much else to say about it. I enjoyed the art as always, which is a large part of why I like Studio Ghibli's films.
Sound wise, the film was inspiring. The music fit each mood perfectly. The voice acting was great too. I loved the voices that went with each character. They just seemed to fit almost perfectly, as if the characters could indeed be alive.
The characters are another reason I watch and love Studio Ghibli's films. They relatable and often address thoughts, fears, and emotions that are common or have been personally felt. Whisper of the Heart is no exception. The main character was lovable and relatable as well as admirable. Her resolve to do her best and be her best was inspiring. I have noticed that Studio Ghibli has an affinity for short brown haired heroines. The other characters in the film were likable as well, predictable and tropey but likable.
Overall, I enjoyed myself watching the film. It was sappy and hard to believe at times, at times most of the time, but it was enjoyable. It was a slice of life story that was refreshing but shallow. One you do not really know why you watched it, but you enjoyed yourself nonetheless. If you like, those type of stories, you will like the film but if you do not you might want to watch it anyway just so you can say you have watched it and complain to your friends later.
Whisper of the Heart was, overall, a good film, not great but good. It is a lesser known, lesser-watched film but worth your time if you chose to watch it. The story is relaxing and free flowing but shallow while the characters are relatable. Nevertheless the animation is great and the sound wonderful. The enjoyment is there too. It a great film for a lazy evening or spacer between loads of homework.