Mimi wo Sumaseba

Title:Mimi wo Sumaseba
If You Listen Closely
Whisper of the Heart
耳をすませば (Japanese)
Overall:Buy
Keywords: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Studio Ghibli
HONNA Youko
KAYAMA Maiko
KOBAYASHI Keiji
KONDO Yoshifumi
MIYAZAKI Hayao
MUROI Shigeru
NAKAJIMA Yoshimi
R1 License - Disney
TACHIBANA Takashi
TAKAHASHI Kazuo
TSUYUGUCHI Shigeru
YAMASHITA Yorie
Tsukishima Shizuku, a middle-school student and bookworm, is surprised to find out that a number of books she borrowed from the lending library (where her father works) show a notice that one certain Amasawa Seiji had borrowed all these books just some weeks before her. While trying to find out who this guy might be, she has to face the challenges of growing up, be that at school, with her best friend's first love or being respected by her older sister and parents.

[Movie, 1995, 111 min; R1 by Disney]
3:35min Song/Anime (Country Roads) - YouTube Video

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OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 9 9 9 9 9 Ggultra2764 [series:621#1552]
Whisper of the Heart is one of Studio Ghibli's lesser known titles among American fans. I even wondered for a time if Disney was even going to distribute it in America thanks to the legality of the movie using John Denver's song, "Country Road."

I tend to think of Whisper of the Heart as Kiki's Delivery Service with a modern twist. With Shizuku and Seiji's bond, we get a coming-of-age story taking place with Shizuku. Seiji has made decisions on his future and this leaves Shizuku curious over what she wants to do for herself. With no villians or fantasy elements (with acception to sequences from Shizuku's story), this is a down-to-earth story for Ghibli to tackle and they do quite well with it. Seiji and Shizuku behave like kids of their age and the bond the two have develops slowly up to the end of the movie. The frustrations Shizuku has over how to write her story felt believable as well. Even I had fits over what to write about for essays or stories I would type up in high school. About the only major ripple in the story development came from the choice of ending as it lacked the believability I seen throughout much of the movie.

Whisper of the Heart's animation was lush and high quality as usual, what you'd expect from Ghibli. This was the first Ghibli movie to use CG-effects, mainly done in the imaginary sequences during Shizuku's development of her story. Also, the English and Japanese versions of "Country Road" were sung very well. These versions of the song were used at the start and ending to the movie as well as one scene during the middle of the movie with the characters. The song is even symbolic of the changes in Shizuku's character as her bond with Seiji develops.

Whisper of the Heart is an easy slice-of-life movie for one to connect with. With believable characters and everyday actions taking place, this is a movie that high schoolers or adults could relate with.

Last updated Sunday, November 30 2008. Created Sunday, November 30 2008.
Buy 10 10 7 10 Kaitou Juliet [series:621#137]
To start off, I'll agree with the reviewer who says that you probably have to like this sort of slow-paced, slice-of-life story. If that doesn't sound appealing, then this movie is probably not for you. But if it does appeal, then you have a real treat in store. Shizuku's joys and troubles are so convincingly drawn that it's almost impossible not to get sucked in. She has her flaws, but she's still sympathetic and likeable. While the movie is ultimately sweet and optimistic, it's never saccharine. An enthusiastic "buy" recommendation!

Last updated Sunday, November 11 2007. Created Sunday, November 11 2007.
Buy 10 10 10 10 10 Violet D [series:621#1393]
I agree with Forbin on this one. Last thursday they started showing some Myazaki films and they had it in English and Japanese. I have watched this one so far three times. But I plan on watching it again and again. I love this one and it is delightful to watch and a real family film. The animation is wonderful and the music great. Everything goes great together and I fell in love with the characters. A must see and a keeper.

Last updated Sunday, January 22 2006. Created Sunday, January 22 2006.
Buy Forbin [series:621#1573]
Drama : High
Action : None
Comedy : Low
SciFi : None
Ecchi : None
Wow, for a movie that scored so low on my 5 items of anime, I loved this one!
It's slow, low dialogue, and a song that is repeated about 10 times during the movie, but I can't get enough. Shizuku and Seiji are so cute!
The song, John Denver's 'Country Road' is masterly resung in English and Japanese and is a very important theme to the movie. Another benefit is that the VA for Shizuku sang the song and it was beautiful.
Did anyone catch the name of the clock Shizuku sees? 'Porco Russo'! another Miyazaki film I have yet to see. Detail is fabulous even to the point that they drew a ground wire on a power pole as she is following a cat.
The only thing wrong with this film? Miyazaki did NOT direct it. I wonder what it would be if he had. Still this film is my 2nd favorite Miyazaki film behind Kiki's Delivery Service.
As of 2005 Disney will be releasing this with an all star cast for the dub. Oh I hope they don't mess it up.

Correction : Song was masterfully sung in English, it was sung by Oliva Newton John of Grease fame. Go figure, a Japanese Anime, produced in English but never released, sung by an Austrailian.

Last updated Tuesday, January 17 2006. Created Thursday, January 27 2005.
Buy 9 9 10 8 9 0 Devil Doll [series:621#752]
[Score: 91% = "Buy+", one of my top 3 Anime movies]
  • Drama: Med (strong story, but perhaps not for adults)
  • Comedy: Low (you'll smile at times but probably not laugh)
  • Action: None/Low (Ghibli does great movement scenes)
  • SciFi: None (plain old world, normal people)
  • Ecchi: None (clean, recommended for young teenagers)
While this 111 minutes movie from 1995 seems perfect for girls of Shizuku's age, I was amazed by it as well. What does this film have? No monsters, no mechas, no scifi, no fights, no nudity, not even comedy, and only a slight touch of magic... just a couple of weeks in the life of a school girl. But it seems that life itself writes the interesting stories. (See Haibane Renmei for another great example of this type of storytelling.)
The scenes that surprised me were those where not much appears to be happening. One example: Shizuku meets a stray cat in the train which departs at the same station as herself, and then follows this cat through the streets, occasionally losing it, then spotting it again... this scene lasts for more than 6 minutes (!) but didn't bore to me for one second.
This film contains some marvellous views from above at the location's town. The character drawing style seems to be very typical of Studio Ghibli - I first watched this movie just days after having seen Mononoke Hime for the first time as well, and the visual parallels are striking. (Note that I use "Character Design" not to rate visual effects - which would be "Art" - but how the characters work and develop throughout the story.) While there's not much action here, there is still a lot of movement that called for skilled animation, and they did this well, too. It is difficult to rate the music: On one hand it is of very mixed type; but it is omnipresent, important for the mood of this film, and even an essential part of the storyline itself in several scenes (qualifying this film for the "music oriented" category).
As I pointed out above, the target group for this movie might be very specific. You need to love 'silent' movies... but then you will find nearly two hours of a touching, heartwarming story of a girl trying to stand on her own feet. Maybe the final scene was a little overdone... but in a sense it even fits well to what these characters may have felt at that time. And at least, no political message here, despite being another Miyazaki film. ;-)

Last updated Thursday, July 08 2010. Created Saturday, July 26 2003.

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