Ghibli Month | Whisper of the Heart (1995)

Synopsis : Shizuku, an inquisitive young girl and a voracious reader, longs to be a writer when she grows up. One day she notices that all of her library books have previously been taken out by one Seiji Amasawa. Amid chasing after a large cat, befriending an eccentric antiques dealer and writing her first novel, Shizuku aims to find this mysterious boy who may well be her soul mate.

Yoshifumi Kondo was, in a way, the perfect go-between Miyazaki and Takahata. He had Miyazaki’s romanticism and imagination, but Takahata’s calm and careful portrayal of domesticity. This leads to a film that explores the magical in the mundane, seen through the mind of an imaginative young girl.

Shizuku takes her place with heroines like Taeko and Kiki who are incredibly relatable in their struggles. Every little victory she had, every anxiety, every insecurity felt so true to my experience making art. This made the experience feel very personal to me, in a way few Ghibli films are. And Shizuku is fun to watch in a different way to Kiki and Taeko, who were both grounded, working ladies. She’s a total airhead, devoted to her craft, at the cost of housework and school. She has a beautiful view of the world, which translates into the film’s subtly gorgeous presentation of daily life, and the poetic way her experiences work their way into her fantasy writing. And I really like her relationship with Seiji. It’s a sweetly naive romance, and even a little cheesy, but it works. This type of relationship can only exist between people like Seiji and Shizuku, two romantics aiming to get good at what they love, regardless of how silly and improbable it seems. And whilst the writing behind the relationship isn’t groundbreaking, I liked how it motivated Shizuku towards her dream. I could really see them working together, growing together as a team.

Whisper of the Heart is definitely a romantic film. Whist it’s a fairly realistic exploration of the artist’s psyche, the external events that contribute to Shizuku’s growth are pretty fantastical. I mean, what are the odds that she would run into an antique shop whose owner made violins- and would lead her to the boy of her dreams, aiding her artistic journey? The story is a dream for a lot of people, not just artists. Who doesn’t want constant inspiration, companions that understand your talent, family that respect what you want to do and are willing to support you? Whisper of the Heart is a comfort film, both in its quiet storytelling and idealistic plot.

This film is simply fantastic. For a long time, it was the Ghibli film that made me understand the hype and I’m still incredibly fond of it. The film’s metaphor for talent and artistic growth is genuinely one of the best I’ve ever heard. It pulled me through depressing slumps in my artistic journey, and I’ll probably return to it many more times in the future.

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