After watching some various Takahata-movies, I’m glad to see a Ghibli-production that does know to keep a slow, yet addictive pacing. Whisper of the Heart, or Mimi wo Sumebasa tells the story of the twelve-year old daughter of a librarian, as she meets the boy she falls in love with. Just like how Ocean Waves was an example of a high-school romance with a male main character done right, Whisper of the Heart is how a romance-story with a female lead should be.
This also remains a Ghibli-movie, and the amount of detail that has been put in both the animation and the script is top-notch, and the degree of realism is excellent, as expected. The characters also speak with voices that match their ages, instead of a thirty-year old voice-actress trying to do it. When they start singing, they really sound like the singing-voices of average people, when compared to other anime where characters suddenly turn out to have the signing abilities of a J-Pop idol in similar situations.
The story is quite simple, and not as intriguing as Ocean Waves, though it’s enough to make you connect with the characters. The first half introduces them and their relationships, while in the second half the love story between the two main characters gets developed. Basically, if you liked Ocean Waves, you’ll like this one. It’s a nice movie to watch and relax, with still enough going on to keep you interested.
Regarding the flaws, at one point, there’s a side-story about two side-characters that just disappears from the screen without getting resolved at all. It’s strange, because I would have liked to see how it developed. Another thing that Ocean Waves did better than this movie is the character-development. Sure, the characters change, but it’s nowhere near as interesting as the time-skip we saw in Ocean Waves. Be also aware that the main character remains a twelve-year old girl, and she will feel annoying at times.
Still, Whisper of the Heart makes up for this by being more than just a romance-story, where a lot of time is also spent on a cat statue named Baron and some fantasy-sequences where Hayao Miyazaki worked on. Overall though, both are movies worth the watch for anyone who doesn’t need testosterones every fifteen seconds.