Genre: Slice Of Life / Drama
Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 29 Nov 2007
An absolutely wonderful story with a screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki and directed by Yoshifumi Kondo.
Shizuku Tsukishima is a middle school girl who is learning how to come to terms with her feelings about everything from her inspiration for writing to how she feels about others.
Whisper of the Heart is undoubtedly a hidden gem in the Ghibli catalog. It’s not directed by Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, though the former was responsible for the storyboarding and screenplay.
Plotwise, this is a very simple story. So simple, in fact, that it tends to rely more on feeling and mood than plot. Whisper of the Heart is very much slice of life in nature, as shown by the emphasis on the day to day and mundane things that happen in Shizuku’s life. Whether it’s writing lyrics for a song or trying to get her friend to confess to the boy that she likes, it’s all quite ordinary. Still, there is a very good story here; it’s understated and doesn’t get in the way of the emotion of the film.
Also, this is one of very few Ghibli films without a fantasy element. Whisper of the Heart takes place in the world as we know it… mid 1990s Japan in this case. Train crossings and cicadas chirping all add to the feeling that we are peeking in on the life of Shizuku.
This is a film that is simply a joy to watch. I went into watching it not knowing very much at all about it, and I believe that this worked in a very positive way. Just being able to absorb the movie without knowing what was going to happen made it all the more enjoyable, and as a result, Whisper of the Heart is one of the most wonderful films I’ve had the chance to see, animated or otherwise.