Originally released in the year 1995 and based in a manga Whisper of the Heart by Aoi Hiiragi, the film is directed by Yoshifumi Kondo (Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke). Now thanks to Disney and Studio Ghibli we have it released as a Bluray + DVD combo pack for the anime fans.
Shizuku Tsukishima loves books, you can say she is truly a bookworm. She discovers that several library books were taken by the same person before her, Seiji Amasawa. Shizuku then begins to form a romantic notion of it, wanting to meet a possible intellectual.
She writes stories and lyrics for her friend at school Yuko Harada and she dreams of one day of course to be a great writer. Throughout the story she will have unpleasant encounters with a school mate she learns to despise, as he criticized her songs as uninspired and poor quality.
One of those days boarding the train she will encounter a cat that will change her life, wondering what a cat is doing there she decides to follow him as he gets down in the next stop, near to the library she was heading too.
There she is lead to a mysterious shop with that magic dejavu in the air, she will find the mysterious cat statuette of “The Baron” and she will meet the grandson of the owner, the schoolmate she seems to loathe, to find is no other than Seiji Amasawa.
She then discovers the real Seiji and as she visits the store more often, a real and romantic bond is born between them, Seiji also has a dream to become a great Violin maker and leaves japan to fullfill his dream. Inspired by Seiji, and with the help of The Baron Shizuku is not willing to stay behind and decides to pursue her talent and true potential to become a writer waiting for Seiji’s return.
With screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki you can’t go wrong. High quality animation in the film is to be expected, the film delivers quality animation with nice amount of details.
Character Design 7/10
Although character design is good, specially coming from Studio Ghibli i’m afraid they are not charming or with huge personality as we could hope for. At least nothing that makes you create a bond with the characters on an emotional level. Well, maybe with Mutto.. the cat.
English audio features the voices of Brittany Snow (Shizuku) and Courtney Thorne-Smith (Yuko). The movie features some of the songs writen by Shizuku, although not outstanding they are not entirely bad.
The packaging for this release uses a standard size Blu-ray case (no hinge) with two discs, a bluray and a dvd version of the movie. Sleeve with embossed lettering for the movie title and Studio Ghibli, featuring blue and golden for a pretty elegant presentation. The back cover display screenshots, bit of character art and a list of features.
The dvd include a “Behind the Microphone”, trailers and tv spots. The bluray disc includes the previous dvd bonuses plus “Four Master pieces of Naohisa Inoue” and the original japanese storyboards.
Plus you get a code to obtain points with Disney Movie Magic reedemable at DisneyMovieRewards.com to get free movies and other nice swag from Disney.
Bluray: 1080p High Definition / 1 85:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48khz/24-bit). Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD Master audio Original Production Audio. English ESL & SDH and French subtitles.
DVD: Widescreen/1 85:1 enhanced for 16×9 televisions. Audio; English 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Track. Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital Production Audio. English ESL & SDH subtitles.
What they did right:
Although the story lacks mayor elements here and there, once you put the pieces together the result can be a charming movie, teaching us to follow and pursue our dreams in life to exploit and achieve our potential.
What they did wrong
Compared to other movies and series from Studio Ghibli, A Whisper from the Heart lacks the magic touch we are used to see in many films of the aclaimed studio.
The character of the Baron had a lot to offer but seems the chance to add that magic to the movie was wasted, as it’s only in the dreams of Shizuku she interacts with him and yet fails to present that in a more appealing way.
The movie starts with a very slow pace and the plot takes a while to take shape, overall seems to be the pace from start to finish. If your thing is an action anime this may be boring for you.
A Whisper of the Heart truly is not one of the best Ghibli movies around, but if you like school life and a casual story this may be your cup of tea. Definitely a movie that can be recommended mainly for the hardcore Ghibli fan or people that dont mind a really slow paced story with an uninspired ending.
We give this anime 7 rice balls out of 10
**A review copy of the Bluray + dvd combo pack was provided for this review.