Secret Santa 2013 – Combo Pack

Whisper of the Heart

Image Source: Official Art

I’ve had the privilege of viewing several Ghibli films in my lifetime, so I was glad to have yet another recommended for my viewing pleasure. Whisper of the Heart is a little special for being the first Ghibli film not directed by Hayao Miyazawa, but the famed director still had a heavy hand in its production so the end result looks, sounds, and feels very much like your typical Ghibli film. There’s a lot that can be said about the film, but the best word to describe it is nostalgic. Upon starting the film, I was immediately confused when Take Me Home, Country Roads came on. The song is actually central to the film, which goes to show how much I knew about it beforehand. But who would expect an American country pop song in a Japanese animated film? Anyway, after a few moments of checking it became clear that I did in fact have the correct file and audio track queued, so on with the show again. Now, the last time I heard Country Roads was in my earlier days of youth (I’m not even that old) when my father would play some of his old CD recordings in his spare time. So this heavily influenced my feelings of nostalgia on a personal level. But honestly there’s much more to the film than my personal experiences.

Image Source: Official Art

Whisper of the Heart feels nostalgic for two main reasons. For one, it has that prototypical Ghibli art style which hasn’t changed much over the decades since Castle in the Sky was released. But more importantly, its story and themes lend themselves to taking a step back and thinking over your own life. What do I mean? Well, at its core the film is essentially a coming-of-age story about Shizuku, a young girl who finds her way in life as well as the love of her life while she’s at it. Sounds fairly simple and straight forward, but in fact it is this unadornedness which gives the film its charm. You see, unlike many of the other Ghibli films, Whisper of the Heart does not feature anything supernatural or fantastic. The most we get in that way are Shizuku’s dreams which inspire her writing. But for the most part, the film merely follows her day-to-day life in an almost slice-of-life manner. There are adventures around town, love problems with friends, and arguments with the family. Everything is for the most part very ordinary and not dramatized, which makes it very easy to relate to your own life. Well, except for the bit where Shizuku’s sweetheart travels halfway around the world to pursue his own dreams. But this is almost brushed aside in favor of detailing how Shizuku grows up as she chases after her love.

Image Source: Official Art

But now I’ve drifted off track, so let’s get back on topic. The account of Shizuku’s life really resonates with us as the sort of typical childhood we’ve all experienced, which is what draws out the feelings of nostalgia. After all, no one is born with a clear purpose of life in mind; we’ve all had that stage where the future looked so far away and we didn’t even think about what we wanted to do when we grew up. So by showing us how one middle school girl deals with it, Whisper of the Heart reaches out and quite literally touches our hearts. And therein lies the true strength of the film. It speaks to us on a very personal level without having to know anything about us, all by very skillfully and subtly exploiting the sympathetic nature of the human mind.





Blinklist BlogMarks Delicious Digg Diigo FaceBook Google MySpace Netvibes Newsvine Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter

14 Responses to “Secret Santa 2013 – Combo Pack”

  1. AllenAndArth says:

    hmm…Solid State Society seems nice…i’ll give it a look

  2. BlackBriar says:

    Out of what’s shown here, I’d go with Whisper of the Heart because of my loyalty for anything made by Hayao Miyazawa and Solid State Society. I saw a few Ghost in the Shell episodes on Toonami and fell in love with the show.

  3. zztop says:

    I hear Masamune Shirow mostly draws pinup girls for ero manga magazines nowadays.
    Apparently it was more profitable for him, or so I hear.

    • Sumairii says:

      Knowing the evolution of the Major’s character design (not including Arise since that was someone else), I can see why he went for pinup girls in ero magazines… There certainly was criticism for the sexualization of her character between the original film and the TV series.

  4. Foshizzel says:

    Awwweee yaaaaa Azumanga Daioh! My only experience with that is in dub format and the same goes for Solid State, but Azumanga was so damn fun to watch <3

  5. Highway says:

    Yeah, of these four I’ve only seen Azumanga Daioh, and had about the same reaction. The jokes just kind of peter out, and while it’s interesting seeing them all eventually graduate, and it’s also good that they feature Sakaki more, it’s just not as funny or captivating later. Some things just get *too* weird, and other things just get old.

  6. anaaga says:

    Holy boobs I’m amazed you can watch all 4 in such a fast amount of tine

  7. […] reviewed Azumanga Daioh, Whisper of the Heart, Planetes, & Solid State Society as recommended by […]

  8. akagami says:

    The knife season in Azumaga Daioh is ingrained in my memory (I burst out laughing at that scene). I enjoyed Azumanga the first time through, but it’s not one of those series that I would watch more than once (there’s not many of those). The Otou-san was weird at first, but I got used to it.

    I’m a fan of the GitS universe, the two main series were a blast to watch. I found the OVAs and movies were a hit or miss though. SSS was more in the miss bin for me, personally. Ok, not great.

    • akagami says:

      I take that back. I got SSS confused with something else. SSS is actually pretty good =P. My memory just sucks, I take all the blame.

Leave a Reply