This evening, after an extremely busy and stressful day, I sat down and enjoyed Studio Ghibli’s 1995 masterpiece, “Whisper of the Heart” at the MFA. After all the work I did today, it was very relaxing to watch such a soothing film.
“Whisper of the Heart” was quite beautiful on the big screen. I never really noticed how meticulously detailed the background art was in this film. The expression on the characters was also a lot better than I remember.
To be honest, I did not really like “Whisper of the Heart” that much the first time I watched it. I can now confidently say that I have changed my mind. This is truly one the best works to come out of Studio Ghibli. The story is just so beautiful. It captivates you. The music, composed by Yuji Nomi, is fantastic. I will definitely be studying this score in depth over the summer.
One reason I think I enjoyed the film more this time around was because I am now able to relate to the protagonist, Shizuku. She works long hours diligently writing a story throughout the movie, and I am, for the first time in my life, working long hours diligently on what I love more than anything else in the world: Music.
I know, I know. Everyone wants to know how great the fantasy scene with the Baron was. The backgrounds by Naohisa Inoue were stunning, and I have personally always loved the animation on Shizuku in that scene. It is just enthralling to see. I love it.
However, the real highlight of the movie was everything besides the fantasy scene. Seeing an animated film like this, one that is so slow paced and character-driven, is very hypnotizing in a theatrical setting. About halfway through the film, you just get lost in its story.
Interestingly, this film was not directed by Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata. Although Miyazaki did the writing and screenplay, Yoshifumu Kondo was the actual director. Kondo-san has worked with Miyazaki and Takahata for many years. Miyazaki was very fond of Kondo-san. He was planning on handing the studio over to him in the future. Unfortunately, Kondo-san tragically died of an aneurysm on January 21st, 1998. Some people consider Yoshifumu Kondo to have been one of the most talented people at Studio Ghibli. Some would even say that he was more talented than Miyazaki himself.
Fun fact: The John Denver song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is sung by Olivia Newton-John (from “Grease”) during the opening. This version of the song, despite being sung in English, was very popular in Japan when it was first released. Interesting, huh?