Whispers of the Heart

As to be expected from Miyazaki, a jewel of an amime: A beautifully animated story of young love with a subtext about the nature of creativity from one of the turn-of-the-twenty-first-century's creative geniuses.

Tsukishima Shizuku is in love with a boy, or rather with the idea of a particular boy, Amasawa Seiji. All she knows is his name, and the fact that he has taken out every one of the books of fairy-tales from the public library where her father works before her.

A cat who rides the subway on its own leads her to a curiosity shop, which is itself a curiosity--nestled in an otherwise unremarkable upscale neighborhood in the hills of suburban Tokyo, with a gorgeous view of city, sea and sky--and to finally meet Seiji. But the course of true love seldom runs smooth, even, or perhaps especially for junior high girls in Miyazaki's beautifully idealized modern Tokyo: Seiji turns out to be the boy who had earlier teased her about parody lyrics she had written to John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads ('Concrete Roads').

The loving mentorship of Seiji's grandfather, the proprietor of the curiosity shop, brings forth the creative potential of both of the young protagonists, Shizuku in writing, and Seiji in violin-making.

Besided the always-impressive animation from Studio Ghibli, the sensitive use of music in Whispers of the Heart is particularly impressive: except in some fantasy sequences, music during the titles, and a little evocative music late in the film, there is no backgroud music. Music occurs as part of the story--Shizuku's translations and parody of Take Me Home, Country Roads, Seiji's and his grandfather's (and friends) playing of instruments made in the workshop downstairs from the curio shop.

Miyazaki fans will want to own it, and all anime fans should see it.

A fine anime for the kids, though I think it will bore any boys who lack the maturity to grasp the subtext about the nature of creativity.

Ratings (out of 5, 1 being worst, 5 being best)

Plot 4.8
Voice-Acting (original)4.5
Voice-Acting (English dub)N/A

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