Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondô, 1995) Review

I've been watching way too many Studio Ghibli films recently so I thought I might as well share some that I watched. This isn't 'Ghibli month' or anything but just expect a few Ghibli films in the coming weeks. I decided to start off with Whisper of the Heart becuase I wanted to review The Cat Returns...then realised that it's technically a sequel and I should really review the first one first. So...this is it (and for these Ghibli films, I watched the dubbed ones so that's the cast I'm writing down).

Shizuku (Brittany Snow) is a young student with a love of books but starts noticing that all the books that she rents from the library all have the same name in then: Seiji Amasawa. She begins to wonder what the connection is but meets a rather astute boy (David Gallagher) who shows Shizuku an old antique show that his grandfather (Harold Gould) runs. The boy tells Shizuku about his dreams and aspirations which gets Shizuku thinking about her own future and what she hopes to achieve.

One glance at it and you probably think that it's just a stupid high school teen film. It is not. It's far deeper than that as it delves into the idea of aspiration and what people do with their lives. It's kind of inspiring in a way. You care about the characters and their backstories because of how the actors potray them and also how the writing and animation acompanies this and brings them to life. They actually seem like real people...but animated (missing the point? Probably).

It's not ALL good though. There are a few flaws but the biggest is the pacing. It's starts off a bit slow but 3/4 of the way through it suddenly speeds up! The ending is really sudden and doesn't really give you time to say "what, er, what just happened?". It's a good ending but that's only becasue I've watched it more than once. First time through, it's a bit fast. It sort of means it's out of control at times but I guess in the long run, it comes together rather well.

Whisper of the Heart isn't exactly Ghibli's best but it is nowhere near the worst (they've done some...okay films). Shizuku is a belivable protagonist and it does a good job of being Ghibli's most realistic film. The animation is still good today and it features one awesome rendition of 'Country Road'. It's often an overlooked Ghibli film and I want this to stop. Go and buy it now.

A deep, realistic Ghibli film that, while it has some pacing troubles, is an inspired and inspiring film (yes, both).

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