Whisper of the Heart (Mimi o Sumaseba)

Compared to my last Ghibli-related post, this time I’ve chosen a film not directed by Miyazaki (though he did write the script) but instead by Yoshifumi Kondo.

Whisper of the Heart is another Ghibli adaptation, this time of a manga written by Aoi Hiiragi. While Whisper of the Heart has less action than early Ghibli works, it is full of conflict – and not simply the cliched teen angst to be found in many works aimed (unfairly?) at younger audiences.

Whisper of the Heart (Mimi o Sumaseba)

Instead it focuses on the conflict of the writer which immediately hooked me of course, or perhaps, the conflict of the creative person – whether it’s main character Shizuku (who desperately wants to be a writer) or Seiji, her love interest, who is striving to become a violin-maker.

Most of the film focuses on the struggle these characters go through, trying to please themselves, take their dreams seriously, to work for them, while also trying to accommodate their families’ wishes and deal with their feelings for each other.

Woven within the film’s central narrative are smaller stories, the mystery of the cat Muta, the story behind the fantastic statue ‘The Baron’ and his lost love Louise, and the story young Shizuku is writing (starring the Baron), and finally the struggle to produce a complete draft that she is happy with.

Any writer or creative person should be able to relate to her frustration and excitement. On one hand, she can’t wait for someone to read it, on the other she’s convinced she’s not good enough yet. I definitely relate, and it’s part of why the movie appeals to me so much, I reckon.

Whisper of the Heart also features a classic country song written by John Denver as something more than simply soundtrack – throughout the film Take me Home, Country Roads is rewritten and performed by Shizuku, and also by Shizuku and Seiji in addition to appearing over the opening sequence – I’ll got youtube links for each (John’s version, the very earnest Olivia version and the English dub of Shizuku and Seiji on vocals and violin).

And before I wrap up the review – I should mention the ending – apparently some folks feel the proposal scene is a little too much, and years ago I remember thinking I was in agreement… but I since the, I’ve come to feel that it was meant to be a sweet (perhaps somewhat naive) gesture, which suits youth pretty well.

And here’s Miyazaki on the ending (taken from Nausicaa.net):

Q: Wasn’t Seiji’s proposal a bit too sudden?

Many thought so. In the manga, Seiji merely says “I love you”, but Miyazaki changed it to “Will you marry me?” Miyazaki defended his position by saying, “I wanted to make a conclusion, a definite sense of ending. Too many young people now are afraid of commitment, and stay on moratorium forever. I wanted these two to just commit to something, not just ‘well, we’ll see what will happen’.”

5 Stars

Ah yes, the terror of asking someone to read your work for the first time.

7 thoughts on “Whisper of the Heart (Mimi o Sumaseba)

      1. It certainly looks good and it’s been a while since I reviewed anything Ghibli related.

        Is that so? Wow! That must be great. I know my favorite Ghibli movie I’ve seen is Grave of the Fireflies. Some other non-Miyazaki ones I enjoyed were Princess Kaguya, From Up on Poppy Hill, and When Marnie Was There from what I’ve seen so far.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yep, definitely!

          I’m a bit similar I reckon: ‘Grave…’ is my fav non-Miyazaki film from the studio too, and then I’d have ‘Whisper…’ in second and I’d place ‘From Up on Poppy Hill’ high too.

          (I wonder what they’re all up to now? I know there’s meant to be the caterpillar film from Miyazaki sooner or later and Ponoc had the commission for the Olympics to work on, which doubtless has a new deadline now.)

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I wondered if that’s the case with Grave, but that’s still good to know. I guess that’s another thing we have in common. Haha! From Up on Poppy Hill is a good film, too.

            As far as Ghibli is concerned? Besides those upcoming examples, I can’t think of anything else. It’s weird because I think the most recent movie they made was When Marnie Was there and that was made before the director created Ponoc.


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