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Konichiwa and Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah as well as New Years all my lovely anime nerds!  Have I got the DISH on some happy news for you! Are you ready for it? Disney is about to re-release Studio Ghibli’s hidden gem, Whisper of the Heart on January 16, 2018 on blu-ray!

Whisper of the HeartWhy should you be happy about this? Well, because it’s a Hayao Miyazaki original. Duh! Now you can add Whisper of the Heart to your collection and slide it in between Spirited Away (2001) and The Cat Returns (2002). Whisper of the Heart (1995), along with most of the other Studio Ghibli films, are being re-released in North America through a marketing campaign lead by film distributor, GKids.

Studio Ghibli has been blowing new life into anime since 1986. “The name Ghibli was given by Hayao Miyazaki from the Italian noun "ghibli", based on the Libyan-Arabic name for the hot desert wind of that country, the idea being the studio would "blow a new wind through the anime industry.” ( The legendary legacy of Japanese artist, and Studio Ghibli president Hayao Miyazaki is known the world over for his heartwarming tales of castles, creatures, spirits and magic. So it makes sense that Studio Ghibli is partnered with Disney to allow for seamless distribution of home movies. Movies that get translated into countless different languages. And all of these movies are voiced by very talented and well known English speaking actors.Whisper of the Heart
Whisper of the Heart was directed by Yoshifumi Kondō and written by Hayao Miyazaki. It was based on the 1989 manga of the same name by Aoi Hiiragi. The Japanese title is pronounced, “Mimi o Sumaseba.” It literally means, "If you listen closely".

The story of Whisper of the Heart follows a young bookworm named Shizuku, voiced by Brittney Snow. Shizuku loves fairy tales and reads fictional books like you eat M&M’s. One day she realizes that she has been checking out the same books as another person. She starts to wonder about this other person who has the same taste in books as her and what he is like. Shizuku’s best friend has a grudge against the sun because it gives her freckles and they share all their secrets with each other. A crush triangle happens and Shizuku is embarrassed to find out that the boy whom her best friend likes, likes her. And Shizuku claims to like no one in particular. Well, except for maybe the one who shares her book history. Anyways, one day Shizuku accidentally leaves one of her beloved books behind in a park one day and runs back to fetch it only to find out that a boy is reading it. Could it be him? It couldn’t be, because Seiji is totally a jerk!

story of the heart
So that’s just one vein of the story. This coming of age tale actually has two stories being told within it. Deep right? The other story, starts later in the movie, when Shizuki is startled by the sight of a cat riding public transportation on its own. Intrigued, she follows the cat who we later find out is called Moon, amongst other names. The cat leads her to an old antique shop where she meets the kind, old Mr. Nishi. Mr. Nishi has a story to tell about the handsome cat statue in his shop. Remember that this cat statue is very important and his name is the Baron. Baron Humbert von Gikkingen to be exact; he’s German. He is important because he will, in later years, be the star of his own Studio Ghibli story in, The Cat Returns.
The Cat Returns
Shizuki sees this statue and is inspired. She asks Mr. Nishi for permission to use the Baron as the main character in her very first novel. Soon Shizuki is swept away, into her own mind, to a far off land where the Baron has the silky English dubbed voice of Cary Elwes. The Baron teaches Shizuki how to ride air currents and avoid planetoids from hitting them. It’s a breathtaking world and as soon as you enter it, you are on a journey. The Baron, you see, is in search of his long lost love Louisa. They have been separated for many years. But snap out it! Because, Shizuki has become lost in her own little world.

Writing her story is now all that Shizuku cares about. She begins to slack off of everything else in her life including chores, schoolwork and even studying for her high school entrance exam. This leads to conflict between Shizuku and her loved ones as it appears to them that she is spiraling out of control. When really, all she is trying to do is prove herself. It turns out the boy who shares her taste in books IS Seiji! AND, he is actually NOT a jerk!

Seiji & Shizuku have a lot in common and his true passion is to become a violin artisan. He admits to Shizuku that he feels he has not yet mastered being a violin maker and that is why he must study. Shizuku and Seiji‘s connection, we learn, are parallels. Seiji gets the opportunity to go to Cremona, Italy, the “Violin Making Capital of the World,” for two months to see if he is a worthy pupil. Shizuku makes that time the deadline for her own novel. She has to prove herself to herself. And her parents, not fully understanding all that is going on with Shizuku, at least understand enough to support her.Whisper of the Heart
Whisper of the Heart
They give her permission to defer going to high school until this thing she needs to do, gets done. They understand their daughter, and sense that she needs this. It’s a crazy move, and I don’t know any parents who would agree to let their child drop out of school, let alone do it without a full explanation as to why. But hey! Those are anime parents for you! Gotta Love Ém All!

PhotoOverall, I think that Whisper of the Heart gets less attention from all the hype of Miyazaki movie because it doesn’t immediately deal with a magical fantasy world. The physical world Shizuku lives in is just Japan in the 1990s. But really, the feel and the flow of the movie, to me and I am sure many others, becomes just as magical as any of the other Studio Ghibli films. It is very much so worth watching.

Coming of age stories have been told a million times a million ways. But, Whisper of the Heart tells Shizuku’s story the way a coming of age story should be told. WARNING! This movie will touch your heart! The theme song of the movie is an American folk song. The characters literally SING the heart-warmingness into the story! The song West Virginia’s state song, originally written and sung by John Denver: “Take Me Home, Country Road”. Hearing it the way it is sung and played throughout the movie sheds a new light on its true meaning. It is a beautiful song. And I am sorry to say, I didn’t think of it that way before.

So to wrap this up, I’m not saying that you have to go out and buy this bluray now. That would make me a sponsor, and I am not one of those. I do think, however, that if you are an anime nerd and you love movies from Studio Ghibli, Whisper of the Heart should not go unwatched. I also think that if you enjoy heart warming animated films, and you are looking for a new movie to watch with your family, this movie is certainly one to consider. And if you are a collector of blurays, well hey, I got some news for you: “Whisper of the Heart is gonna be re-released on bluray January 16th!” You’re welcome. / Issue 198 - August 2018
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