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Recommended age 10-18
105 minutes
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WHISPER OF THE HEART cover image Click to play video trailer
Whisper of the Heart is a soulful, intimate look at the trials and tribulations of adolescence and a worthy addition to Studio Ghibli's film catalog. This is the next film in the Ghibli Fest, a series of Fathom Events returning Studio Ghibli's films to the cinemas. Whisper of the Heart is director Yoshifumi Kondo's directorial debut and unfortunately, his only film.

This film follows Shizuku, an imaginative aspiring teenage writer who enjoys reading books and writing song lyrics. She spends her time hanging out with her best friend Yuko. The school year begins and she has an unfortunate series of encounters with a mysterious fellow student. She learns that this name is Seiji and he wants to build violins. The pair bond in an antique store and soon fall in love. They encourage each other to elevate their craft. Seiji leaves to practice building violins in Italy and Shizuku challenges herself to write a story about a prominent antique statue called The Baron, belonging to Seiji's grandpa, to improve her writing.

Studio Ghibli mastermind Hayao Miyazaki has directed some excellent animated films, but above all, he's a fantastic storyteller. Every time we get a glimpse at Shizuku's story, the film gains a sudden magic and wonder. The romantic dialogue between Seiji and Shizuku is more often than not, genuine and sweet. This story has very few of the fantastical characters and worlds that have been a mainstay for a lot of Miyazaki's other work. Seeing his characters grow firmly in reality shows a different side of his storytelling abilities.

Something I admire about nearly all of Ghibli's work is that, even when characters are involved in pursuits of mythical proportions, they always bring it back to the human elements of the story. The same goes for this film, although with a more realistic plot. There are some particularly great shots of the city below Shizuku's town that demonstrate Ghibli's skill with bringing worlds to life on the big screen.

If you enjoy the work of Studio Ghibli, in Whisper of the Heart there are Easter Eggs pointing to films like Porco Rosso and My Neighbor Totoro. If you enjoy this film, check out The Cat's Return, which stars the protagonist of Shizuku's story, The Baron. I recommend Whisper of The Heart for ages 10 to 18, and adults. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. Fans of Miyazaki will enjoy seeing a new side of his storytelling onscreen.

Reviewed by Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

This 1995 romantic, anime-animated film takes you through the wild high school life of Shizuku. As this film develops, you get see the perspective of Shizuku being a best friend, daughter, sister, high schooler and girlfriend. This dramatic film was written by Hayao Miyazaki, Aoi Hiragi, Cindy Davis Hewitt and Donald H. Hewitt and released through Studio Ghibli.

The storyline follows Shizuku and Seiji Amasawa, her fellow classmate, and many more. Their adventure begins with Shizuku's plan to read 20 books before the end of her week. This plan leads to having to explore for a particular person who seems to pop up in every aspect of Shizuku's life. This search causes Shizuku to get distracted from studying for her high school exams. As this film develops, the exploration begins to seem more meaningful.

The lead characters are Shizuku Tsukkisima (Yokko Honno), Seiji Anasawa ( Isley Takahashe) and The Baron ( Shigeru Tsuyuguchi). My favorite character is Shizuku Tsukkisima, not only because she's the protagonist, but because she cares about others. She always puts others before herself, and thinks about their sensitivity. Another thing I love about Shizuku is, when she wants something, she will do whatever it takes to achieve or accomplish whatever it is.

My favorite scene is when Shizuku's teachers inform her she has a male visitor and he emphasizes the word "male" in front of her class. She steps outside and talks to him on the roof and her classmates follow discreetly, then Shizuku notices and yells "Hello?"

This film shares an important message, which is to be brave and keep on trying even through hard times.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 15, as well as adults. This film plays July 1 and 2 at theaters nationwide through Fathom Events. Check it out.

Reviewed by Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

This year GKIDS and Fathom Events are back with Studio Ghibli Fest 2019 and the next film in theaters is Whisper of the Heart. Directed in 1995 by Yoshifumi Kondo and written by Hayao Miyazaki, it is a touching yet bittersweet animated film that deals with the realities of growing up.

It tells the story of a curious teenage girl named Shizuku, who is both an avid reader and an aspiring writer. During her many visits to the library, Shizuku discovers that the books she has been reading have all been previously checked out by a mysterious boy named Seiji Amasawa, voiced by Issey Takahasi. Soon enough, she figures out that Seiji is a boy at her school, who she believes is irritating and rude. One day, when Shizuku sees a cat riding on a train, she decides to follow it, leading her to a whimsical antique shop owned by Shiro Nishi, with a magical cat statue called "The Baron" inside. Later on at the shop, Shizuku gets to know Seiji, learning that he dreams of becoming a master violin maker. Both he and the Baron motivate Shizuku to listen to the whisper of her heart and follow the dreams of her own.

This film has a very engaging plot and heartwarming characters that audiences will fall in love with. Also, this film is perfect for fans of Studio Ghibli films. like myself. This film has outstanding animation that perfectly captures the signature style of the Studio Ghibli films. The artwork really comes alive in the scenes at the antique shop. The film score, composed by Yuji Nomi, include references to the John Denver song "Take Me Home, Country Roads," which is a big part of the movie.

Personally, I enjoy the part where Shizuku first dislikes Seiji, because it's a funny hint to the audience that shows that she actually really likes Seiji. Whisper of the Heart is very different compared to the other works of Studio Ghibli, because its characters encounter real-life situations that most teens and adults can relate to, such as first love and pursuing your passion in life.

It teaches audiences that, even when you don't believe it, dreams do indeed come true. Regardless of how old you are, everyone can take something away as you watch the characters experience everyday issues.

I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, as well as adults. You can see it in theaters on July 1 and 2, 2019 through Fathom Events.

Reviewed by Jordan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

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Based on the manga with the same title, this animated film follows Shizuku, an inquisitive young girl and a voracious reader, who longs to be a writer when she grows up. One day she notices that all of her library books have previously been taken out by one Seiji Amasawa. Amid chasing after a large cat, befriending an eccentric antiques dealer and writing her first novel, Shizuku aims to find this mysterious boy who may well be her soul mate.
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