Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: (English language voices) Brittany Snow, David Gallagher, Ashley Tisdale, Harold Gould, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Martin Spanjers, Jean Smart, Cary Elwes
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki, based on a comic by Aoi Hîragi
Directed by: Yoshifumi Kondo
MPAA Rating: G
Language: Japanese (or English) with English subtitles
Running Time: 111
Date: 07/15/1995
IMDB

Whisper of the Heart (1995)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Schoolgirl Crushes

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This beautiful anime from Studio Ghibli has baffled the Disney marketing team, which is presenting it as a supernatural thriller of some sort, in which a girl gets whisked off by a talking cat. The actual film is quite a bit more enchanting; I kept waiting for the thrill-a-minute stuff to kick in and spoil the mood but, thankfully, it never does.

A schoolgirl, Shizuku, should be studying for her placement exams and helping out in the busy family home, but she's more interested in meeting her goal of reading a certain number of books over the summer. Though a series of coincidences involving the library books, a runaway cat and a cat statute, she meets Seiji, whom she dislikes immediately. But the more she learns about him, the more she falls for him. It's that simple. (The talking cat sequence takes place in a dream.) Seiji, who designs violins, inspires Shizuku to write her own story.

There are hellos and goodbyes, confrontations and revelations, yet nothing that seems hysterical or overtly dramatic. Rather, Whisper of the Heart has the gentle life-flow of something by Yasujiro Ozu. Director Yoshifumi Kondo was an animation assistant on many Hayao Miyazaki films before making this, his only film. (He died at age 47 three years after completing it.)

DVD Details: As with all the other titles in the Studio Ghibli series, Disney has done a bang-up job on this one, providing both a new English-language audio track as well as the original Japanese. We also get storyboards, trailers, and a "behind-the-microphone" featurette. In 2012, Disney released a Blu-Ray edition.