Whisper of the Heart is a touching Ghibli slice-of-life story, about a young girl named Shizuku. While riding the train, she notices a fat cat riding alongside her. Following the cat, she finds a shop where she is told an enchanting story of a gold statue named "The Baron". WotH follows Shizuku in her struggles to grow, and her budding love with the shopkeeper's son.
For a good while now, in every review, I have always tried to explain exactly why I liked or disliked an anime. As time has shown, this is one of the more maddening principles that I have taken up. Occassionally, a case comes up in which I am at a complete loss to understand what factors influenced my opinion. Whisper of the Heart is such an anime. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind about whether this movie is good. On the contrary, I am absolutely certain that WotH is a classic, and needs to be seen by everyone. What does perplex me, however, is exactly what makes this anime so incredibly satisfying. There are no especially memorable plot points. The characters, while definitely likeable, are very typical of what we would expect from a Ghibli film - amiable, uncomplicated, and generic. Of course, the animation is outstanding in traditional Ghibli fashion, but this alone shouldn't be enough to save the film. I admit I enjoyed the soundtrack immensely, but why? The main theme, "Country Road," is a song that I have previously heard and disliked. The anime is remarkably slow moving, and by all logic should be a dull, mind-numbing experience similar to Niea Under 7. Fortunately for us, WotH does not conform to "logic." Throughout the movie, Ghibli neatly avoids all perceivable pitfalls that tend to afflict this kind of down-to-earth, everyday sort of anime. I was never bored throughout the entirety of the show, and was immensely satisfied by the relatively undramatic, no frills plot. Perhaps WotH's main strength is its sheer idealism. Other people have mentioned that the anime is "realistic," and I heavily disagree with them. WotH does in no way mimic what I would define as "real life." Rather, it provides something much, much better: a purposefully imperfect reflection of what real life SHOULD be. Consider, for instance, a scene where the main character's parents discover that her grades are rapidly falling. A rather predictable scene follows shortly after, a "talk" in which the parents confront the child and demand a reason for the severe drop in class rank. However, the result is as unpredictable as it is heartwarming. In its earnest simplicity, the scene does far more than a "realistic" one ever could. This theory does a lot to explain why the soundtrack is so incredibly good. Both the instrumental tracks and the aforementioned theme song, "Country Road," would be incredibly corny for just about any other anime. However, for this one, the songs work. Like the anime, they reflect a completely untainted world outlook. Though in weaker films the soundtrack would most likely drown in the viewer's cynicism, in WotH the OST blooms into something unexpectedly beautiful. In the end, it doesn't really matter what makes WotH so great; the end result is far too satisfying. By the end of the show, you really feel like you know the characters through and through. I'd say it is impossible not to love them. Likewise, the coming-of-age storyline, while slow, somehow manages to seep into every fiber of your being and in the end provides a truly satisfying experience. As mentioned before, the OST is absolutely brilliant and is pretty much the perfect pick for a film such as this. Add in the oustanding animation, filled with loving detail and impressive fluidity, and you've got yourself a truly excellent movie. I don't think I've gotten so much pure, unadulterated joy from a film in a long, long time.
-Story- While I feel that the story was not as good as some other Studio Ghilbi films, it was still a decent plot and an interesting story. It was a story that was based more on real life than most Studio Ghilbi films, but it was excecuted well. Its basically a story about growing up as we follow the Junior High student Shizuku as she deals with issues of love and finding out more about herself. This is also one of the few Studio Ghilbi films that has romance as a critical part of the story, and for the most part it was excecuted well, except the romance got complicated with all of the crushes the side characters had with eachother. My biggest complaint about the plot was that it seemed to lack focus in the early parts of the film. -Animation- Its your good old Studio Ghilbi animation, its great. -Characters- The characters were pretty interesting to watch and they were all very unique. Shizuku makes for a good main character to explore the themes of the plot in depth, and her friend Seiji is also going through a lot of the same things that Shizuku goes through. This film really sets up the characters well, anb makes us attached to them. -Overall- Another good Studio Ghilbi film. Not my favorite, but good.
Warning: Spoiler Alert After watching Whisper of the Heart, I can safely say it is in my Top 5 favourite Studio Ghibli films ever. It's just so cute and romantic! The story follows Shizuku as she goes about her everyday life. She has a great love of books so she is always reading. After checking out books in the local library, she starts to see the same name checked the same books out before her over and over. It happens so often that she starts to wonder what this guy must be like. One day, she follows a mysterious cat which leads her on her first adventure to an old antique shop. There she meets a sweet old man and his beautiful cat statue. She also has a few run ins with a boy from her school. The first few times he's quite sarcastic and a bit mean to her but after spending time together they get on really well. He tells her of his dream to make violins in Italy and they have an impromptu jamming session there in the antique store. Her emotions get thrown all over the place when she learns that he is the boy who has been checking out all the same books as her. He does apologise for being mean but I don't think he meant to be - sometimes he didn't even remember saying the things he did! After learning that he can go to Italy for two months to train with a violin carver, he comes rushing to her class to tell her. Much to the amusement of her classmates. Up on the roof she reveals that she likes him by saying she wishes they would go to the same high school. And I got the impression he liked her too. Inspired by his ambition, she decides to spend the two months he's gone to find and pursue her dreams to become a writer. To the detriment of her grades, she does complete a rough draft of a story. And completing it meant so much to her, it meant that she was ambitious and driven too. Just like him. But although it was extremely sweet, I couldn't help but think that once again it was the boy who follows his dreams whilst the girl stays at home waiting and pining. After the two months he returned home and he came straight to her and he admitted his feelings for her. How he noticed her in the library ages ago and started checking out books for her to notice him, how he felt bad for leaving her for two months, how he came home early and waited outside her house for her to wake up and how he loves her and wants them to get married someday. So frigging cute! My favourite moments included when he was sarcastic to her, when he came to her classroom to talk to her, when he told her not to worry about it when she said others will think he likes her, when he waited outside her house for her, when he said he knew the lunch wasn't hers and that she doesn't eat like a pig, his declaration of love for her including how he checked out books for her to notice him and finally, how he waited patiently beside her in the library until she was finished. In regards to the other characters, I thought her sister was terribly bossy and self-righteous. I didn't really like her at all. Her parents were nice enough though preoccupied with their own work, but then again, that allowed her to go on adventures. I did feel sorry for her friends though. Her best friend fancied a boy who actually fancied her! So are both feeling unrequited love right now? I think they got together in the end but that's bound to be messy - knowing your boyfriend preferred your best friend. That would be awful! Now that I've seen this, I can't wait to watch the spin off - The Cat Returns!
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