Anime Meta-Review


Whisper of the Heart


By Date




Title Info

  • alias: Mimi o Sumaseba
  • type: movie
  • grade: exemplary
  • people: Ghibli
  • Other elements of this title:
    • This title is a personal favourite.
  • made: 1995
  • Review created: Recently, but I didn't record the date.
  • mod: none

After 6+ months of searching I finally got my hands on this tape. Having got it I wondered whether my high expectations (hey, this is a Ghibli film) would be met. Thankfully I needn't have worried. This is not only a Ghibli film, it is a good ghibli film, and anyone with any interest in anime rich in story and character should see it if given the chance. There, review finished.

Not enough? Hm...There is no way a review can do justice to this anime. As mentioned it is rich in character, atmosphere and possesses a keen sense of observation and expression. The story seems simple, and the atmosphere decidedly mundane and domestic, but will drag you in and involve you in the actions of the characters. The setting is Japanese middle school, the main character is Shizuku. She's young, intelligent, imaginative, intense and uncertain. Life is getting more complex and like many her age she's not exactly sure how she fits into it all. Then she meets a cat, riding on the train, and things go from there.

I'll spoil no more of the story than that. Simply put faith that Hayao Miyazaki knows how to write a story that will draw you in, and Ghibli studio know how to animate it. It has all the elements to form a moving story, yet so well balanced and keenly observed that they seem realistic. And if this story doesn't move you, even the slightest, then i'm sorry to inform you that you're dead. Of course it must be said that this is an inspiring real world drama with a fairly strong, but reserved, romantic subplot. So if you were hoping for lots of action, alternate realities or gushy romanticism and will accept nothing else then you might as well move on. The bottom line is I loved it, and given the chance, I strongly recommend you give it a try. Mind you, since Disney (Grrr) own the rights, but have a very slim chance of releasing it in my lifetime, availability is not something that can be taken for granted. Even good fansubs of this movie are suprisingly rare.

However to continue this pointless review I'll mention again that this is a Ghibli animation. Thus the animation quality itself is more than sufficient to support the story, character and atmosphere of the story. Admittedly if you've seen the other ghibli films you'll see some familiar looking faces here, but since the ghibli style is so strong and visually attractive this is a minor problem. As mentioned the setting is fairly mundane, although there are some moments of fantasy, so the `epic' ghibli style is somewhat absent. On the other hand there is an amazing attention to detail, which gives an amazing effect of depth. The effects, character animation and design work is excellent, with a wonderfully detailed view of an average Japanese family which is doubly interesting for western fans. The music is great, and woven into the story, and the Japanese voices are delightful.

Start off with this a solid and perceptive review from THEM. They give it top marks and suggest it as a cure for those with anime burnout. The only other one of my regular sources that had a review was Lord Carnage and I strongly suggest you don't read his review as the synopsis is perhaps a tad too complete. Although whether knowing the story spoils the experience is open to debate. Still, he knows a good anime and the comments (and 5 rampage rating (the maximum)) make it fairly clear that he recommends this one.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:27 WST 2009