Whisper of the
Heart- the Japanese title literally means, "If you listen
closely"- is a beautiful, understated, warm, touching, and
rewarding movie. Shizuku Tsukishima is fourteen. She is at
that important point in a Japanese student's life when she
needs to study hard to get into a good high school.
Shizuku has a strong taste for the different, the
fantastic. She finds her home life, crowded into an apartment
with her parents and older sister, just a bit too ordinary and
stifling. She reads fantasy books voraciously.
She is also translating the John Denver song, "Country
Road," for some fellow students. This song opens the movie and
provides it with a recurring theme. City girl Shizuku finds
the concept of an "old home town in the country" different,
alien, and hard to understand.
One day, an unusual cat captures Shizuku's attention. She
follows it down some back roads and finds an odd antique shop.
She befriends the owner. Some of the beautiful objects in the
shop, and the stories of love they seem to tell, move her (and
the audience) deeply.
About this time, Shizuku meets the boy who seems fated to
be the love of her life, the boy whose name she saw on many
library sign-out cards, having borrowed the same fantasy books
as her. But Shizuku is shocked and humbled to find he has
already chosen and started on his life's work.
Shizuku is moved to challenge herself and write a fantasy
story. This takes a lot of her energy, hurts her grades at
this critical time, and causes friction with her family, who
haven't been told the nature of her project. But she learns
and grows from the experience.
The audience sees beautifully animated, breathtaking scenes
from her story. In one, Shizuku soars through the air,
surrounded by planetoids that seem composed of semiprecious
This movie is my personal favorite.