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Exclusive review: Inu-Yasha:
Rumiko Takahashi's (Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku, Mermaid Tales) new hit TV series in Japan
  Rating: None
  U.S. Distribution Rights: Disney
  Genres: Family, Romance, Drama

Whisper of the Heart (Movie)
Alternate Titles: If You Listen Closely, Mimi wo Sumaseba

Description:    Shizuku Tsukishima loves to read books. One day she follows a big cat into an antique store in the countryside, where she finds a beautiful cat figurine called "The Baron". She also meets the storeowner's grandson, Seiji. A junior high school student who is determined to go to Italy and study from the masters the craft of violin making. Shizuku falls in love with him but all too soon when Seiji tells her that he gets his wish and will be leaving for Italy. Inspired by Seiji's determination and dedication, Shizuku also aims to write her first novel and chooses "The Baron" as her subject. So as Seiji pursues his goals and dreams, so does Shizuku - learning that it takes determination, as well as time, patience, and endurance to develop and achieve one's dreams.

Overall Grade: 96% (A)

  Reviewer #1: Christine Liu
  Episodes reviewed: Subtitled
Grade: 95% (A)
   This anime, coming right out of Studio Ghibli and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, is really one touching story!!! This was actually one of the first animes I watched when I was a wee lil anime fan in school. And I loved it now as I did then. Whisper of the Heart is not a fast paced, action-packed anime - rather it's a gentle and touching story of two junior high school students and their pursuit of their dreams. The whole anime gives a look of the peaceful countryside of Japan (more like the outskirts-of- the-city life). To me the animation is just awesome - how Studio Ghibli pays such close attention to details (especially in the case of the Tsukishima's household as well as other background settings). Even the gestures and the small actions that the characters make are paid with much attention. ^^

There are some scenes that are long enough to capture the picturesque countryside, setting a peaceful quiet mood. You'll even get use to Shizuku's translation to John Denver's "Country Road" which she translated all by herself that smart girl!! ^^ Her singing the song just makes the song even more beautiful and catchy ^_^. One thing that bothered me though was the ending of the movie. Though touching, it just leaves a "huh?" at the end for me. Sorta abrupt in my opinion. Nonetheless, I like this movie and find it enjoyable to watch. I can't help but smile most of the time!!! Suitable for all ages!!!! ^^

  Reviewer #2: Clyde Adams III
  Episodes reviewed: Movie; Subtitled
Grade: 97% (A+)
   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 stones.

This movie is my personal favorite.

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