Blu-Ray Review: Whisper of the Heart (1995)

WhisperoftheHeart 786936820164 500 Blu Ray Review: Whisper of the Heart (1995)

Hayao Miyazaki’s Whisper of the Heart is a coming of age tale about a girl in middle school named Shizuku. She has a huge imagination and loves to write.  Like many writers, she sees stuff about life that most people are too distracted to notice. One day, she finds herself sitting next to a cat while riding a bus and she follows the cat to a neighborhood at the top of a hill.  There she finds an antique store with a peculiar cat statue that sparks her imagination. She also starts up a friendship with a boy from school who just happens to be the grandson of the shop’s owner. Like the young love depicted in most of Miyazaki’s films, theirs is more of a friendship with a couple of awkward, sensually charged moments thrown in. The cat, as well as the boy, serve as inadvertent catalysts to the heroine’s revelation that she must pursue her dreams.

I really enjoyed Studio Ghibli’s work in this film. Granted, we are talking 1995 here and the fantasy element in the story is kept to a bare minimum.  Don’t expect anything the likes of Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away. There are no fantastical creatures or mind-blowing scenarios. It’s a pretty basic coming of age story. However, one of the things I love about Miyazaki’s work is that it is infused with these quiet moments set against amazing backdrops which one can only find in his native Japan.  Whether the action is taking place in the city, in an apartment, or in a woodsy area, you can’t help but get drawn in as the art is incredibly beautiful and inspiring.

Whisper is Studio Ghibli’s second film produced without Miyazaki directing. While he did adapt the screenplay from a manga called Mimi o Sumaseba (If You Listen Closely), the director was actually an artist who worked on Kiki’s Delivery Service and Grave of the Fireflies, Yoshifumi Kondo. Unfortunately, Kondo passed away shortly after making this film at the young age of 47 from a brain aneurysm attributed to stress. This prompted Miyazaki to announce retirement then drastically cut back his schedule instead.

Video: High quality transfer making the animation crisp and visually stunning. First rate.

Audio: Aside from the song selection mentioned, the soundtrack is light and airy, much like the scenery in the film, and the audio quality is top-notch.  Any fan of Miyazaki’s work will find this version as pleasing to the ear as it is to the eye.

Special Features: Sneak peeks and trailers, a “Behind the Microphone” featurette, and “Four Masterpieces by Naohisa Inoue.” The latter being a time-lapse slideshow of four paintings coming to life by the artist behind the Baron fantasy scene. You can also, if you so choose, watch the entire film in storyboard form.  While interesting to see, it sort of misses out on the beautiful pastels of the finished art.

The only drawback for me was a seemingly out of place sampling of John Denver’s “Country Roads,” which Shizuku changes the words to and sings.  Olivia Newton John performs the dubbed version and apparently, the song is now a standard over in Japan, probably thanks to the film. But overall, Whisper of the Heart is a beautiful, heart-warming coming of age story, a quiet little gem amidst Studio Ghibli’s wilder forays into the fantastic. Rating: A-

Whisper of the Heart – Trailers and TV Spots Collection

0 Blu Ray Review: Whisper of the Heart (1995)

[Source: DVDizzy]

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