Justin takes part in the Reverse Thieves' annual Secret Santa event, and chooses a Ghibli title he's long been wanting to watch.

Let’s discuss the anime that has a girl endlessly cross the street like she’s mastered space and time.

Whisper of The Heart
We also call this living on the edge too.

But first, this is the 8th year of the Reverse Thieves’ Secret Santa project, hosted by Alain and Kate. The people who take part get assigned to a person, recommend three anime they think they’d like, and once everyone knows what they got, they write about it during Christmas week.

Whoever was assigned to me definitely made a good choice to have a Ghibli film on the list. I’ve liked them (except Ponyo to an extent), but, as you can tell, I haven’t watched ALL of them.

Whisper of the Heart (Mimi wo Sumaseba) for example, is one of those titles.

Long on my Ghibli films to watch list, this was the first title they worked on not directed by Miyazaki. That means in turn this was the first work not directed by him or Takahata. Sadly, this was the first and only work Yoshifumi Kondo was able to direct. That’s not what I wanted to find out when looking into the background for this one, and man, who knows how Ghibli would have looked today if Kondo was around. Based on how Whisper of the Heart was, it’s heartbreaking.

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While it was written by Hayao Miyazaki, Whisper of the Heart is based off a manga by Aoi Hiiragi. It tells the story of Shizuku Tsukishima, a young girl who likes reading, likes writing, and is kinda aimless. She doesn’t really know what to do with herself except just go through doing what she already does. However, she notices in the past few books she’s seen the name “Seiji Amasawa” on the library card. While Shizuku wonders who Seiji is, on a train ride to the library one day, she meets an odd cat. She follows the cat all the way to an unknown area and to an antique shop. When she walks in, she meets The Baron, a cat figurine with glimmering green eyes and a snappy looking suit. This encounter, and her curiosity, leads her to find her true passion, but also to wonder if it’s the right course for her.

On the outside this seems like a typical romantic story, but Whisper of the Heart is more than that. It’s a love story that highlights the life of creators, and their hopes, dreams, and restlessness. While Shizuku doesn’t know what she wants to do yet, Seiji knows exactly what he wants — that involves making violins. He wants to go to Italy to do so, which means someone (his parents) telling him no. Only his belief (and his grandpa’s) is what drives him to accomplish this dream, and knowing that inspires Shizuku to try and accomplish hers, which is to write.

Needless to say, none of it is easy. Throughout the story there’s bumps for Shizuku as she tries to hone her talent, whether it’s from her older sister to her parents, to her skills in general. Even from her classmates and friends, which involves an unfortunate love situation that she apparently didn’t notice. However, she ultimately went with what was best for her, and there’s nothing wrong with that, even if it involves feeling emotionally torn.

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Ghibli films always look great, and Whisper of The Heart is no exception. The gif to start this post is extremely wonderful, in that how fast the story could’ve turned whimsical to morbid in three seconds or less. But it’s not just that. It’s all of the shots of Tokyo, either with the characters standing on the side far away or one involving a panoramic shot of buildings with the sun as the backdrop. Some of it involve little moments, like a scene where Seiji and Shizuku are up on the roof with rain coming down, but the framing in those instances paint the picture.

Whisper of the Heart isn’t my favorite Ghibli film, but it is a fantastic work. From the music to the characters, it’s a film that holds up well today. I thank my Secret Santa for suggesting this, and I’m glad I finally carved out time to watch it. If you made the mistake of not watching it yet like me, please do so soon.