Whisper of the Heart: Junior High romance is serious and very, very slow

I’ve reviewed a lot of Studio Ghibli films. In January of 2014, one of those films was The Cat Returns. During that review, I mentioned that it’s a spin-off loosely connected to this film, Whisper of the Heart. Now, that film was pretty good with plenty of strong elements. Let’s look at Whisper of the Heart and see if the same holds true for it.

Whisper of the heart1

Story:

Shizuku has a pretty easy life. Her parents are easy-going and she has plenty of friends and lots of time to read obsessively. One day, she notices that all of the books she gets from the library seem to have been checked out by the same guy before her. She’s curious about what he could be like and, by sheer coincidence, meets a guy she doesn’t know. I’m sure these two plot points are completely unrelated. The film follows Shizuku in her daily life with the focus on two major facets, her budding romantic interest in the boy she barely knows and her coming of age and learning what she wants to do and trying her hardest to follow it.

The biggest flaw with the film is the romance aspect. Our two leads are still in their pubescent stage and, frankly, they have about as much chemistry as Argon has with anything. Yet the narrative treats their barely started relationship as important and serious. I give them a couple months together at most before they break up. The coming of age element, however, is pretty well done and it elegantly illustrates what it’s like for someone to discover their passion and immerse herself in it. Aside from those two elements, the film is pretty tedious with very little of interest happening. Honestly, it can be really mind-numbing to slog through.

Characters:

The characters in the film vary. Some of them are quite dull, having only a really basic purpose to fill before being banished to wherever trite characters go when they’ve done their bit. Shizuku is a pretty fleshed out and developed character. I will say, most of the characters have enough to them to have verisimilitude, even if they don’t ultimately contribute to the narrative all that much.

Whisper of the heart.jpg

Art:

The artwork and animation are the best aspects of the film. Both are really well done in classic Ghibli fashion. So, if nothing else it is a very pretty, nicely detailed film.

Sound:

The vocal cast and music are both pretty middling. They’re passable, but not good. The stand out performance has to be from Honna Youko, who is coincidentally going to be featured in next week’s series too. She does do a really good job, but you also have actors like Tachibana Takashi who just sound bored. The music is fine, unless you really love or hate the song Country Road. Which does get a bit over-used and could start to wear on your nerves, especially if you aren’t kindly disposed towards it to begin with.

Ho-yay:

There really isn’t any in this film.

Final Thoughts:

Whisper of the Heart is not a good film. It isn’t bad either. It’s just a film with a dull narrative, bland characters and excellent artwork. If you really like slow slice of life works, you might enjoy it. Otherwise, I can’t really recommend it. Especially when Studio Ghibli has so many really strong films that are filled with intrigue and adventure. My final rating is going to be a 5/10. So, this month we’ve looked at Nuku Nuku Dash in honour of Hyashibara Megumi month, Yuru Yuri San Hai in honour of yuri month and now this in honour of Ghibli month. Next week we harken back to last year’s magical girl month with a look at Futari wa Precure: Max Heart.

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