Review - Whisper of the Heart

This will be a collecting point for my past anime reviews and future reviews. Please note that there will be the inevitable time references in these as they have been lifted from my old LiveJournal (I'll keep the existing ones there for now)

Review - Whisper of the Heart

Postby mistie710 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:22 pm

It seems that the folks at Ghibli can do no wrong, and that certainly seems the case with this story which is based in modern Japan. That seems to be a bit of a change from the usual, considering all the lush settings used in so many of the previous stories but... well...

Anyway, the story centres around a young girl called Shizuku. A bit of a bookworm who specialises in translated lyrics (this story features the gradual translation of the old John Denver song "Take Me Home Country Road" though one particular joke version, "Concrete Road", features in the early part of the show and is the subject of one of the meetings between Shizuku and a mysterious boy who, at first, seems to get off on insulting or embarrassing her), Shizuku is the younger daughter in a family or bookworms, so it seems. The father works in a library, the mother is studying, the elder daughter is a college student of some kind, though we never get too deep into this since it isn't that important though it seems that Shizuku has a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to her sister.

A number of elements clash including her unwitting involvement in a love polygon involving her best friend, a boy whom her best friend loves but who really loves Shizuku and an unknown other boy in the sports team. You know the drill - "I can't go out with you because I have a crush on somebody else". This all comes out when Shizuku herself plays the ultimate card when the truth comes out - "Let's just be friends". This all shocks Shizuku who, up to that point, had never had an interest in boys other than a mysterious name that kept appearing in library books on the lending card before her. Another part of the story features a shop that Shizuku discovers one day after following a cat from a train. That might sound a little far fetched but the roaming habits of some cats that I've known doesn't completely rule this out! In this shop she finds an old man and a figurine that she takes a fancy to. All this eventually confuses Shizuku to the point that she finally decides to give herself a test, namely the writing of a story.

Now all the above might sound a little confusing, but it's a story that really takes a lot to describe without putting in too many spoilers; for example, the identity of the boy that keeps humiliating Shizuku is something I'd best keep to myself as well as what happens to him later in the performance. The artwork is typical Ghibli, especially with Miyazaki on the staff, but the amazing landscapes that you might have seen in prior works don't make much of an appearance except in a dream sequence late on. There are, however, plenty of references to those prior works and eagle-eyed viewers with a knowledge of these might like to see how many they can spot (I got Porco Rosso, Kiki's Delivery Service and The Cat Returns for example). Otherwise this is a slice-of-life style show which, while it may be a bit boring for younger viewers, I found to be quite an enjoyable tale if a little obvious in places.
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