Whisper of the Heart (1995)

Genre: Animation, Drama, Romance

Cast: Brittany Snow, Ashley Tisdale, Cary Elwes

Synopsis: A heart-warming and insanely illustrated tale about a Japanese schoolgirl who struggles to find her passion in life. Inspired by a young violin maker, she sets out to write a fantasy novel that features no hentai or tentacle porn.

Before we go any further it should be noted that I am an anime fan and that I am borderline obsessed with Studio Ghibli movies. Everything about Studio Ghibli movies captivates me: the stories that tug at your feels, the beautiful animation, and the messages that are conveyed. There is something so magical about them and it’s actually come as a surprise to me that I’ve never watched any of them high. Well, that has just changed.

I was having a rather tough and emotional day and I needed something to pick me up and restore my faith in humanity. One bowl of Amnesia Haze later and I was set. I was initially stuck choosing between Kiki’s Delivery Service and Whisper of the Heart but ultimately chose the latter and I am glad I did. This movie has a special place in my heart because it’s the movie I was watching when I received notification that I had been awarded a scholarship to study in the States and so began the happiest two years of my life in the US (except for that one time I got strep throat without any insurance. That was not a happy time. Seriously America, sort out your healthcare system).

As far as the story goes, it’s actually rather simple. The film follows a teenage girl named Shizuku who doesn’t have a clue about what she wants to do in life. Then, through a series of random events, she meets a young violin maker. The two become friends and continue to inspire and push each other on the road towards their dreams. It’s a very sweet coming-of-age tale that explores the difficult process of finding oneself whilst injecting touches of soft romance. It’s a movie in which many feels are felt and contains a central premise that I think a lot of people can relate to.

The real star of this movie though is the insane animation. Everything is just so God damn detailed. A beautifully rendered Tokyo plays host to the movie and the level of intricacy is just astounding. From the cramped apartments to the labyrinth like streets of the suburbs, everything is just so vivid and realistic. If nothing else, it made me want to buy a ticket straight to Japan. The thing that’s even more amazing is that the movie is almost 20 years old and it is not dated in the slightest. The scenes that Shizuku creates for her novel are kind of trippy. The use of color in these scenes is fantastic and the animators should really pat themselves on the back for a job well done.

Whisper of the Heart stands out among other Studio Ghibli films and other films in the genre for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s quite a subdued film in terms of action and adventure. Those of you who love Castle in the Sky or Princess Mononoke should be aware that this is nothing like those films. Secondly, it’s not really a kids’ movie in the traditional sense. It’s not patronizing at all and it deals with subject matter that is a little more adult. Finally, it’s a film that is grounded in reality. Ultimately it makes the film more accessible to an audience but it might not be what you’re looking for in the long run and, as I said, it’s a film that is largely devoid of Japanese weirdness and tentacle sex.

High-lights:

  • In case you didn’t quite get it from my review: THE ANIMATION IS SPECTACULAR.
  • It has a lot to do with cats. The internet rejoices!

Downers:

  • Sometimes it felt that the dialogue didn’t translate so well into English. If you can, watch the Japanese version with subtitles but the English dub is still really good.
  • Maybe the voice acting was not as good as the other Studio Ghibli movies.

Summary:

This film is a real gem and should be watched by as many people as possible. Ultimately, it’s probably better to watch when you’re chilling on your own and when you can pay attention to it. The movie would be great with all kinds of strains. Sativa strains will allow you to concentrate on the detail of the animation and will allow you to appreciate the beauty of the film. The story is really simple and easy to follow meaning that it’s a really great movie to watch if you prefer indica strains too. It’s really a win-win situation!

8.5/10

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Filed under Animation, Drama, Great, Romance

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