Whisper of the Heart Poster

Whisper of the Heart (1995)

Animation | Family | Romance
Rayting:   8.0/10
Country: Japan
Language: English

A love story between a girl who loves reading books, and a boy who has previously checked out all of the library books she chooses.

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User Reviews

baseballfanjm 10 July 2004

When I first heard of Whisper of the Heart, I didn't feel a significant need to find it and watch it. How good could a teen romance be, a genre that's been beaten to death? Little did I know how much I'd love this film.

I beg of you, don't turn this film away because of the premise, which might strike some as sounding sappy. When Studio Ghibli is involved, you can't go wrong. It's NOTHING like you'd expect from any teen romance from anywhere. Whisper of the Heart has none of that fake, self-indulgent crap that permeates Hollywood, movies about teens that pander to clichés and don't give a damn about real characters or love or true feelings. Whisper of the Heart doesn't fall back on cliché and formula. It's a truly great film. It's a remarkably honest and heartfelt look into a 14-year-old's life, her family and friends, how she falls in love, and there are moments so stirring, so wonderful and yet so simple. Yoshifumi Kondou, the director, showed all the qualities of being a master of animation. It's a real tragedy that he passed away. The film is full of moments that are real and beautiful that use animation, not to exploit the story, but to enhance moments with the simplicity they need in their presentation. And the screenplay, written by the great Hayao Miyazaki, is free from false sentimentality and melodrama. He gives us real characters here, ones so well written that anyone who has been a young teen can relate to them.

Whisper of the Heart is as good an animated film as you'll find. It's a one of a kind anime and it's beautifully done. Are you tired of Hollywood films peddled to you off a studio assembly line? Tired of clichéd romances that have no emotion or humanity?

You want something with real depth, soul, and heart? Seek out Whisper of the Heart. It's beautiful, and refreshingly done. You might just love this film as much as I did.

zetes 29 September 2003

A very moving animé film from Studio Ghibli, as good as anything either Miyazaki or Takahata have made. It's a very simple and down-to-earth movie about a young teenage girl who is experiencing her first love, as well as doubts about her future. Whisper understands its characters as few films do, and I became quite intimate with our heroine, Shizuku. It also has a sense of mood unmatched by any other film I can think of set in everyday life. The way it feels to live in a cramped apartment, the emotions of the first day of school, and the way the sky looks after it has rained – so many generic memories of my life brought right to the forefront, as if they were the only moments that mattered. The film enveloped me so completely, I could smell the odor of the antique shop. The music is so wonderful, the score by Yuji Nomi. And I never could have imagined that John Denver's song `Country Roads' would make me weep. Well, it was in Japanese, but still. It's frightening. Each Ghibli film I see makes me think that the next one cannot possibly match it, yet each film inevitably does. 10/10.

dial911book 21 January 2006

Whisper of the Heart is the perfect English title of this masterpiece.

It was such a joy to watch an animated film so effectively produced that you start to forget it is an animation. Characters become real; situations and thoughts and feelings come alive. The story is clean, decent and uplifting in every way. Plus, American viewers get an accurate glimpse into the way younger Japanese teens are viewed and view themselves.

I lived in Japan for several years as a child, and a number of the background sounds (the peculiar insects singing in the trees, the electric trains passing) and customs (bowing to elders, enjoying the wonderful soups, singular focus on school success) struck a deep chord of remembrance. This film is fashioned with such detail and consideration for artistic elements -- I just loved it. I wish my kids were still under 10 and I could have shared it with them. Nowadays, I'm afraid the older boys (over 12) would lack the patience to enjoy the film because, frankly, it bears no relation to high-action animation from Japan or the U.S.

I found this film by accident on Turner Classic Movies, and viewed it the English-dubbed version. There is also a subtitled version, but if you want to enjoy it as a family with youngsters, you'll prefer the English language version. The English voices are clear and well done.

It's a beautiful story with a timeless theme presented with loving care. This film is so good, and so insightful, that I would suggest it could be shown in schools or home-schools for its cultural content alone. And if you have an ounce of sentimentalism, sense of wonder or appreciation for creative beauty, then you'll watch it all by yourself after the kids have gone to bed.

KubricksRube 25 January 2006

Most action movies are pure fluff, relying on clichés, special effects, and bravado to win over the mostly male audiences that keep them in the pipeline. They are junk food. They provide the illusion of satisfying us but they are not nutritious or filling at all. But then there are those action movies which are so solid, well-written, well-acted, well-paced, and well-done that we don't even think of them as action movies. They are the action movie gourmet meals. Think of Lawrence of Arabia or even Full Metal Jacket. Movies like that are outside the traditional action realm, and tend to have much wider appeal. They are entertaining and smart.

Likewise, the action movie's female counterpart, the romance movie, tends to be fluff, relying on overwrought acting and writing, schmaltzy music, and clichés. Even rarer than the "good" action movie is the good romance movie. A movie that realistically depicts love and interpersonal relationships without relying on any clichés or overwrought acting or writing. City Lights is one example of this, the works of Ernst Lubitsch are another. Think of his movie The Shop Around the Corner. It's a love story that works by depicting real "moments" (as critics like to call them). Instead of being a hammy soap opera, these movies work by touching us on a real level. You don't cringe watching these, you don't say to yourself "Who talks like that?" and you don't hear schmaltzy music all of the time to let you know what emotion you are supposed to be feeling.

I'm bringing all this up to make the point to any guy who is reading this that "Yes, there are good romance movies you will like." Whisper of the Heart is a movie like that, and BOY is it a good one. You've heard of the rare romance movie that both men and women like equally, this is one of them. Guys will like it because it isn't junk food. Comparing this movie to typical romance garbage like Up Close and Personal is like comparing a piece of filet mignon to a Slim Jim. People talk like real people, they have real problems that 14-year-olds have, and they relate to their family like real 14-year-olds do.

This movie should be easy to find on DVD and for once I do not hesitate to say "watch it dubbed." Miyazaki himself says that his movies should be seen in the language of the viewer, and not subtitled, so that you can devote your full attention to the image on the screen and not to reading subtitles (I make the exception for Princess Mononoke which IMO has a inferior dub). It was written by Miyazaki but directed by another very talented man who unfortunately died not long after making this, his only film. The influence of Miyazaki shows in this film, although the animation style is a little different, and the style of the backgrounds is *very* different. I do not know what process was used, but I'd say they based all of the backgrounds on real photographs. The lighting in them is so well that some of them could easily pass for photographs on an NTSC display unless you look at them long and closely. The pacing in this film is also very well-done. Too many directors hurry through pacing, they don't want there to be any silences because they don't know how to use silence. This director does.

edm22390 20 January 2006

This has to be one of the greatest, most inspiring films. The story's about a young girl and how she meets the boy of her dreams. It sounds rather cliché but it's actually off the beaten track. Even though the characters are in 8th grade, they're rather mature and understand the consequences of their actions. It's very heart warming and nice, and rather different, in a very good way, than what most people would think. You get to see the characters develop and go through crushes, friendships, and many other things that are just part of growing up. The best part is that the film makers don't exaggerate or make it over dramatic; they make it so that you care deeply for the characters and identify with what they're going through. The movie also has the song "Take Me Home, Country Roads" as it's main theme, and the characters even sing it in the movie in a moving scene. It may sound strange at first, but everything's very tastefully and well-done. The movie also makes one remember that dreams do come true, even when you least expect it, and that sometimes reality can be better than your greatest dreams; and in light of the times we're living in, it makes you appreciate the smaller but more important things in life.

chengtan 31 October 2004

I have never seen such a touching love story between two young people, driving each other to achieve their aim in life by doing self-discovery. What makes me realize is we don't have to know someone in real life to push ourselves to achieve something. They can be far away from us or a stranger to be our role model in life.

This story can occur in reality and who knows? The story line is simple but very interesting. It also makes you think whether you have such an inspiration in life, whether our partner give us an inspiration in doing what we want in life or just live another day.

All in all, this love story inspires me and it will be one of my favorite anime at all times.

astroboy13 17 January 2002

Whisper of the Heart by Kondou is the most endearing, personal, magical, and majestically warming Anime based Reality I've seen in a while. It's up there with Grave of the Fireflies, and Barefoot Gen--even though this film's contents is more in the line of soul mates, aspirations, personal treasures, unrequited love, and John Denver.

Disney bought the rights for it, so for those whore lacking--be patient, although you can always get a Jpn DVD version that contains English Sub, just be sure that your DVD plays that certain region.

A great anime for those who seeks solace and inspiration, nothing more nor less. Sure it lacks violence, guns, nudity, fast cars, robots--and amongst others that can render a film to the point of being excessive, brutal, and profane--but with love, destiny, personal adventures, and a sensuous story--you couldn't go wrong with this lovely thing.

I cannot emphasize it anymore than that--watch it with a love one.

dballred 4 January 2003

Mimi wo Sumaseba, (English title Whisper of the Heart) is a rich and wonderful film, worthy seeing again and again (and again). It's a reality-based love story between two bright middle-school students. Shizuku, 14, lives with her elder sister and parents in a typical apartment. She really enjoys reading and, as the film begins, she is working on a school project to translate the words to John Denver's song, Country Road. Seiji, 15, lives with his parents, but we see him only at his maternal grandfather's place-where he is studying to become a violin maker. The story is based around how they meet, how their relationship develops, and how Shizuku challenges herself to embark on a major writing project entitled Mimi wo Sumaseba. Along the way, we meet some very memorable characters-including an indifferent and overweight stray cat that seems to be pulling everyone together. Japan saw more of that cat last year, as he reappeared in Neko no Ongaeshi.

As is true for most of the films from Studio Ghibli, the artwork of this film is superb. The night scenes in the city, the flies dancing in the fluorescent lighting, and the startlingly realistic clutter of a typical urban Japanese family residence all are depicted in the first few minutes of the film-and the images don't let up all the way to the closing credits. While many viewers might see the film as near-perfect and give it a 10, I give this film a 9 out of 10 rating because I'm a guy and I don't like my tear ducts filling up with joy more than once in a film. I'll probably raise that to 10 after another viewing.

Marilliz 28 September 2004

Fabulous. Extremely fantastic. I love the innocence in it, the love, and the friendship. You can feel all that just by watching Whisper, and the music! I've always loved Country Road by J.Denver, and after watching this movie, I like it even more. I actually fell in love with the characters, and felt like being in love again. The vibe is there, no doubt. The atmosphere, the artwork, it is fantastic. We don't really need a high-tech animation to make a successful one. Simple artwork like Studio Ghibli's is just wonderful for me. I'm not going to spoil anything, since most of you probably have watched it. Those who haven't, please do so! I'm going to watch it again and again! My sincerest opinion, it is a must see! 10/10 from me!

cosmic_quest 5 June 2006

A Studio Ghibli film, 'Whisper of the Heart' differs from most anime produced by the company in that it is not about cute creatures or other-wordly adventures. Instead, it is a bittersweet tale of a normal teenage girl and the trials of growing up.

The film follows Shizuku, a girl in her mid-teens, who lives for her love of books and writing. During her numerous visits to the library, she become aware that all the books she has taken out have been previously checked out by a boy named 'Seiji Amasawa'. It doesn't take long to realise that this Seiji is, in fact, a fellow classmate at her school who she finds infuriatingly arrogant. But as she comes to know him properly, discovering he is a boy with firm ambitions to be a great violin maker, he leaves her yearning to find her own path in life as well as tasting love for the first time.

What makes 'Whisper of the Heart' so beautiful is its honest depiction of what it is to be an adolescent on the cusp of adulthood, avoiding pitfalls like descending into sap, depicting teenagers as being perpetually stroppy and difficult or sexing up characters in a vain attempt to make them more appealing to the shallow. We've all been in Shizuku's shoes: feeling the turbulent tugs of first love, floundering over what do to with one's life when it seems everyone else seems to know their own dreams for the future and juggling the turmoils of school life and exams at the same time. Anyone who has ever been fifteen years old will be able to empathise with Shizuku and Seiji and that's what makes them such strong, concrete characters. It also offers an interesting insight into the Japanese culture as we get a close-up look of everyday family and school life in Japan, which in itself is as fascinating as the actual story.

'Whisper of the Heart' is much more than just a teenage love story. It's a charming, poignant tale about life and dreams. Another first class film by Studio Ghibli.

memoryboxscot 18 March 2005

This is a simple story of the meeting of kindred spirits. I was completely captured by the pace and the atmosphere of the film. If you have any trace of romance in your soul and/or appreciate finely crafted animation and direction, you'll love this.

I, like thousands of other people, had a holiday romance in my early teens. This film sparked off all kind of memories I thought I had buried for life.

My 10 year old daughter also loved this and demanded to know when the sequel (based on the Manga story "Happy Time"?) will be made. (Hopefully in the same style, although, unfortunately, the original Director died a year after this was made.)

bmoredlj 15 June 2006

I had no idea what this movie was about when I first hear about it. Upon purchase, I read the back of the DVD box, but had the feeling there was nothing useful written on it; I assumed it was probably written by someone who hadn't seen the movie; a correct assumption. I long ago decided that a film is a film, whether its live-action or animated doesn't matter, all that matters is that the film is good. That decision was made after watching a few Ghibli films, so I trusted that despite the vague packaging and rather hokey English title ("Whisper of the Heart", not a direct translation), this Ghibli film would not disappoint. It didn't; this film is quite good.

This is arguably the most realistic Studio Ghibli film to come to the US (because all the fantasy elements reside in the Shizuku's imagination), which is far from a bad thing. While I still hold Mononoke, Nausicaa, and Spirited Away firmly atop the highest echelons of animation and cinematic excellence, I don't hesitate to position this film very close, if not beside those gems, despite its lack of giant insects, flying cities, apprentice witches, wolf-girls, magic forests, spirit bathhouses or moving castles.

So what IS in this film? Plenty to keep me interested, and I loved those other movies. I have nothing but high praise for it, I know (unless you hate Ghibli films, of course) but it deserves it. Essentially a teen coming-of-age and love story, this film has a relatively simple plot. But it is still endearing to me because the way it is presented so genuine and sincere. The interaction of characters - be it between junior high friends, between the young and the elderly, between family, or between two teenagers gradually falling in love – feels very honest and real, whether it's interaction important to the story or merely incidental scenes. The protagonist, Shizuku Tsugishima, is a very likable and quirky, and she has a very expressive face and mannerisms. For the duration of the film I really cared about Shizuku, her life, her feelings, and what happens to her.

This realism of the characters and their feelings and behavior is enhanced by the gorgeous setting: the painstakingly detailed outskirts of 1994 Tokyo. There are expansive urban vistas and scenes of contemporary life every bit as beautiful and awe-inspiring as the best Ghibli work. We see the haughty upper-class neighborhoods and life in a cramped apartment. The scenes of Shizuku's imagination visualized are also original and very nicely done. I also love how Ghibli so authentically depicts cat behavior, in both this film and its sequel.

The orchestral score of this film is magnificent; everything you want in a film score. After watching the film I wouldn't want anyone other than Yuji Nomi composing its score. The grand, lush crescendos are the perfect accompaniment to Shizuku's story, both in moments of melancholy and elation, as her feelings bounce back and forth between these – much like in any teenager. The music also makes the well-placed moments of serene silence all the more powerful, and gives the film on the whole a very complete and vital presence. Both American (surprisingly) and Japanese voice casting are also excellent…this is among the best dubbed Japanese I've ever seen.

It's just a hands-down superb, engrossing, life-affirming film. 10 out of 10. Sometimes makes me wish it were still the mid-nineties. Watch it, and more than twice. I've written 650 words about it, after all.

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