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Favorite Scene
I'm a big fan of the cat. No, not the Baron. Moon. Not that the Baron is not likable, but I much prefer cute, live, fat cats. I could spend the whole day re-watching the scenes with the cat. I have a weakness for cats. They're just too cute! It was particularly cute when Shizuku was on the train and the cat lithely climbed up on the seat beside her. The kitty looked out of the window and ignored her as she chatted with him, as typical of cats. Then he sat down on all fours beside her and calmly looked ahead, truly looking like he's riding the train with a clear destination of where to go. And of course, he got off at the next stop xD.

Whisper of the Heart
Synopsis | Review

After watching Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away, I decided to get more into Studio Ghibli. One of my good friends already watched Whisper of the Heart, courtesy of my library, and highly recommended it to me. So it seemed to be a good candidate for my third Studio Ghibli experience.

This movie is based on a manga by Hiiragi Aoi. From its title, Whisper of the Heart seems like a hopeless romance story. That was fine with me, as I have high tolerance for hopeless romance stories. I was also curious as to what makes it a Studio Ghibli affair. Clearly, its characters are nothing like the stereotypical anime characters. You won't see any people here with huge eyes and wild hair. Nope, not a single pink-haired person will be found in this anime.

But yes, once you watch this movie, you could tell that it's really a Studio Ghibli affair. It's just not as flashy as Howl's Moving Castle (oh, and by the way, Howl's hot) and Spirited Away. That, however, doesn't make it any less of an anime.

Tsukishima Shizuku is a 14-year-old girl who loves to read. Lately she notices that the books she checks out have been checked out by an Amasawa Seiji before. An inquiry to the school librarian yielded her no clues as to who this person is.

One summer day, she meets up wtih her best friend, Harada, and shows her translated version of "Country Road." Apparently, Shizuku has a knack for translating as well. After they parted ways, Shizuku realized she forgot her library book at the bench where she sat with Harada. When she returned to the spot, she found a guy reading her book. He returned it to her without trouble. But then he also told her that she should drop her translation of "Country Road" (he called it "Concrete Road"). And of course, that got Shizuku's hackles up.

The following day, Shizuku had to bring her father's lunch to the library, where he works. While on the train, she meets a big, fat, gray cat. What's peculiar is that the cat seems to have a clear idea of where it's going. And it has the same stop that she has! Piqued, she followed the cat all the way to a small, out-of-way shop that sells lots of crafts and exotic figures. In the shop, she finds a statuette of a cat in an elegant suit. She also meets the elderly shopkeeper, who introduces the cat as the Baron. At some point, Shizuku realizes that she's late in delivering her father's lunch. When she got to the library, who else should wheel up in his bike but the rude guy from before, with her father's lunch. The cat was sitting at the back of his bike. She left it at the shop. He made a comment about how she eats too much and wheels off while singing "Country Road" (he sang it with "Concrete Road" instead of "Country Road"). This, of course, infuriates her even more.

After some more investigating into who Amasawa Seiji is, Shizuko realized he's no other than that rude guy who mocked her translations. But when she returned to the small shop one more time, she realized he's not that bad. The store belongs to his grandfather, and the cat is a stray named Moon. He wants to be a master violin maker. And so the two of them became friends.

It was not long after when Seiji tells Shizuku that he's going to Italy and study there to be a master violin maker. He also tells her that he always tried to make her notice him, but she never did. So he decided to check out books before she did, so she would notice his name before hers. Aw. Isn't that cute. The rest of the story is about Shizuku trying her hand at writing, testing her abilities the same way Seiji is testing his abilities in Italy.And... let's see... I suppose they lived happily ever after.

The cinematography in this movie is amazing, and the detail is really something to behold. Contrary to popular opinion, this movie was not directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Nevertheless, it's still a great Studio Ghibli film. There's none of the typical anime homes. Shizuku's house has all the realistic clutter and crowding and smallness that middle-class homes have. The little shop truly is exotic, and the characters' surroundings show a detailed suburban Tokyo. On watching this movie a second time, I also noticed how the audio effects is amazing as well. It's not necessary for a movie to have lots of explosions and fireworks; Ghibli makes Whisper of the Heart have great audio just by paying attention to little things, such as the projection of a person's voice across an empty room.

The story is nothing spectacular. Whisper of the Heart has the calm of a slice-of-life anime, with light romance and inspiration on the side. It's completely nice and wholesome. The love story doesn't have any naughty elements. It's one of those cute childhood sweetheart things. It's also quite multi-faceted, as it involves not only everyday life and young love but also how genius burns and the tale behind the Baron's acquisition and how Shizuku had her story revolve around him.

If you're looking for something glamorous and dramatic, then move on. Whisper of the Heart is great if you want to see a good old movie that'll make you relaxed and feel good afterwards. Or if you're looking for eye candy in terms of cinematography. And I think we all have days when we need something like it.

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