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Whisper of the Heart (1995)- Film Review

Released in 1995, Whisper of the Heart follows the story of Shizuku Tsukishima, a middle school girl from Tokyo who is going through the journey of finding herself. An avid book reader, Shizuku Tsukishima notices that all the books she borrows from the library have been borrowed by a guy named Seiji Amasawa too.  She secretly wonders how he must be like. As she tries to find out the identity of the boy, she stumbles upon a completely new part of town where she meets an old man and his cat. The old man owns an antique shop. She keeps going back to that shop and it becomes Shizuku’s most beloved spot as the stories proceeds.

Meanwhile Shizuku randomly keeps coming across a boy who constantly teases her. She gets even more frustrated because she doesn’t know the boy’s name or anything else about him. Shizuku has the creative touch and writes lyrics for her school’s choir. The plot completely unravels when one afternoon in the antique shop Shizuku finds out that the boy is a violin maker and the old man’s grandson. Not only that, he is the same boy who issues the same library books as her; and thus Shizuku and Seiji Amasawa’s friendship starts.

As Seiji leaves for Italy to acquire the art of violin making, Shizuku becomes adamant to follow her passion too. Not the one to be left behind, she starts writing a novel featuring the Baron, a cat statue in Shiro Nishi’s antique shop. So obsessed is she with finishing the novel that she stops doing her school work. As a result her grades drop but she convinces her parents that the work she is doing is much more important.

What sets this movie apart is the technique with which it has been narrated using immaculate imagery and the storyline. Ghibli Studio stays true to its roots in Whisper of the Heart by putting immense details not only in the animation but the characters too. The movie sticks close to the reality despite being an animated one. Smallest of details in each frame give a glimpse of the Japanese culture. The characters have been created from right among us. Whether you are an artist trying to find your calling in life, a university student worried about your future or a parent making a living for your family, you’ll find something relatable in the movie.

The seemingly simple storyline has many layers to it. The development of Shizuku’s character from a carefree 14 year old to an ambitious writer is a treat to watch. The struggles of proving one’s worth and growing up in a competitive world have been embedded in the narrative of the young girl’s life. The movie is slow paced and set in suburban Tokyo. The animation looks like a painting which has been made sitting right in the streets of Tokyo. Whether it’s the portrayal of different socioeconomic classes in Japan or the industrialization of Tokyo, Whisper to the Heart touches the mind and heart pleasantly and leaves a warm feeling behind. It’s an insightful coming of the age film to be enjoyed by all, young and old.

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fahad farooq

fahad farooq