Whisper Of The Heart – Shizuku spends all her time in the library, but when she realises that she has been beaten to almost every book by a boy, her curiosity is peaked, and when she wanders off the beaten track and discovers a beautiful cat statuette called, ‘the Baron’, she is inspired to start writing her own novel. But as she begins to find out more about the boy who beat her to the books, and the stress of her own novel distracts from school work, will Shizuku be able to figure out who she is going to be?

Whisper Of The Heart (1995) – Director: Yoshifumi Kondō

whisper of the heart suitable for kids

Source by Fair Use: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3781486

Rating: U

Running Length: 151 mins

Starring: Brittany Snow, David Gallagher, Harold Gould (English Dub)

Genre: Animated, Romance

‘WHISPER OF THE HEART’ REVIEW

By 1995, upon release of ‘Whisper Of The Heart’, Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli had cemented itself as a force to be reckoned with. Eschewing the Hollywood models, Studio Ghibli focused on tales with predominantly well-rounded female characters, Japanese folklore, and teenage whimsy. ‘Whisper Of The Heart’, based on an already popular manga series by Aoi Hiirage, as written for the screen by the Ghibli founder and lead creative figure, Hayao Miyazaki, is a low-key story about coming of age, finding yourself, and the confusion of first loves.

Set in a junior high school with a 14 year old female protagonist (Shizuku, voice by Brittany Snow), ‘Whisper Of The Heart’ is one of those stories that has ‘whimsical’ stamped all over it. Shizuku aspires to be a writer and fantasy novelist, whilst also finding herself drawn to an antagonistic boy who himself is a trainee violin maker. But she is plagued with self-doubt and her family constantly hen peck her to conform to the more normal routes of education and chores. Stuck in a pokey and packed apartment, she feels the weight of expectation upon her. But this isn’t some western movie where she bursts into song or goes on some life-affirming adventure in order to find herself: ‘Whisper Of The Heart’ instead deals with reality, in all its confusing humdrum uncertainty.

Although the plot may sound dull when explained literally, it is the sheer everyday relatability that makes the movie so heartwarming. We all can find something to relate to with the limited cast of characters who are trying their best and aspiring to just figure out what to be in life, especially for that confusing mid-teens time of life when everything is so new and vital. Shizuku herself is a very engaging protagonist. She aches to be creative but is dragged back by worry that she isn’t good enough. She doesn’t know what to feel about a boy she likes, and even less about a boy who likes her! The score is simple and unassuming but conjures feelings of warmth and nostalgia, and the living, breathing suburbia of Tokyo is lovingly hand drawn in each scene.

Studio Ghibli movies cover a range of tales and there is no denying that ‘Whisper Of The Heart’ is neither an edge of the seat action bonanza nor a heart swooning tale of over-the-top love. What it is is simple, yet lovely. Real, yet rose-tinted. Nostalgic, yet timeless. For those who are happy to lose themselves in the life and dreams of others, ‘Whisper Of The Heart’ will warm hearts and minds alike.

CONTENT: IS ‘WHISPER OF THE HEART’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN

Early on there are conversations between several of the female characters where they talk about having crushes. They tease each other about who they think to be good looking and one character says, “do you think about boys?”

Shizuku finds a boy reading through her things after she accidentally left them behind. She doesn’t like the way he speaks to her and afterwards she angrily says, “Stupid jerk! Stupid jerk!” to herself over and over. Young children may imitate this.

One character’s sister, who is around 18 years of age, takes off her top in order to wash it and have a shower. She is at home so it only her family who see this and no-one comments on it. The sister is rather overbearing and nags her younger sibling, both in this scene and throughout the film.

Shizuku follows a cat who catches her interest. She follows for quite a while until she is in a section of the city she has never been before. She is not particularly concerned about being lost but wandering off by yourself is again behaviour that could be imitated. Later she runs off in a hurry and runs straight across a road without looking.

One character accidentally upsets another by not understanding their feelings for them and instead tries to set them up with a friend. When confronted about it by another friend, the character instead professes their love for her, which then isn’t reciprocated. The boy character sullenly says, “Okay. I guess we’ll just be friends then.” This isn’t touched upon again in the movie but is indicative of confused teenagers coming to terms with having feelings for each other.

One character sobs that they will never be good enough at their passion and that they should have known what they wanted to do from an earlier age. The character is upset that they don’t measure up to another character’s dedication. This scene is short but may upset some viewers who are empathetic with the plights of others.

A kindly shop keeper explains the back story behind a beautiful cat figurine he has in his shop. His tale is one of a lost love with separation enforced by World War II. He isn’t upset when telling the story and it is done as an interesting tale rather than a heart string puller, although one character has tears in their eyes from hearing the tale.

One character declares that they love the other and asks them to consider marriage someday. Both characters are in their mid teens and so this is a declaration of young love which may or may not continue.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT: IS ‘WHISPER OF THE HEART’ FOR KIDS?

There is hardly any potentially unsuitable content in ‘Whisper Of The Heart’ but as the movie centres around the doubts, aspirations, and budding love of mid-teenagers then it is unlikely to appeal to the very young. Purely from a content point of view we would recommend that this movie is suitable for all ages (although we have found that the ‘stupid jerk!’ part has become repeatable in toddlers if not careful) but from an ‘enjoyment of the plot’ point of view then we would suggest that ‘Whisper Of The Heart’ is best suited to ages 7 and up.

  • Violence: 0/5
  • Emotional Distress: 1/5 (one character puts a lot of pressure on herself to succeed. Another character reminisces and upsets the listener of his tale)
  • Fear Factor: 0/5
  • Sexual Content: 0/5
  • Bad Language: 1/5 (“stupid jerk” is used multiple times in quick succession and “jerk!” is used again later, once)
  • Dialogue: 1/5 (several mentions of crushes, boys / girls, one character is constantly nagged for not helping enough around the house or applying herself enough at school)
  • Other Notes: deals with themes of coming of age, childhood crushes, wanting to be the best that you can, stress at not having figured out what to do with life, education stress, lost loves, and how it is never easy to do things differently to everyone else).

Words by Michael Record

 

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