Blu-ray Review: Whisper of the Heart



At the last Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, they ran Far Western which explores the love of Bluegrass and Country Music in Japan. Somehow we don’t associate the songs of Nashville with Tokyo. But it’s true. Not only did they enjoy the songs that came from the heartland of America, but they did their best to infuse their own culture into the genre. People seeing Whisper of the Heart for the first time might think its a stretch that the characters are obsessed with John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” But the song had an impact in the Far West that comes out in the characters of Studio Ghibli’s animated tale of a teen girl coming of age.

Shizuku Tsukishima (Prom Night‘s Brittany Snow) is a 14 year old girl growing up in Tokyo. She and her friend Yuko (Ashley Tisdale) are doing their best to alter the John Denver song for a junior high school project. She’s also a book worm and discovers that a majority of her library books were previously checked out by a boy named Seiji (7th Heaven‘s David Gallagher). She has a bit of a crush on the mystery boy until she meets him. He’s a jerk to her. During a train ride, she spots a cat riding along. Out of curiosity, she follows the commuting feline to an antique store. She learns part of the mystery of the cat from the owner (Rhoda‘s Harold Gould). She also learns something more about Seiji that makes him less of a jerk. Inside the store, she sees a statue of a cat in a suit and top hat. This ultimately inspires her to write a short story about both the real and porcelain cats.

While Hayao Miyazaki didn’t direct the film, he was a major guiding force. He adapted the script from Aoi Hiiragi manga book. Director Yoshifumi Kondō was an animation director who worked under Miyazaki on Kiki’s Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke. This was his big step up at Studio Ghibli. He does a great job with both depicting the reality of Shizuku’s life in Tokyo with her fantasy world painted by Naohisa Inoue. Sadly this was his only film as director since Kondō died of an aneurysm brought on by work stress.

Whispers of the Heart captures a teenage girl doing her best to figure out what are her true desires in life that she should pursue instead of just being told what to do for her future. The movie also reminds us of that no matter where you grow up in the world, you’ll end up humming John Denver’s music.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the details in the marvelous fantasy world. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 for both the English and Japanese dubs. The English version sounds more full. The French track is 5.1 Dolby Digital. The subtitles are in English, Japanese and French.

Feature Length Storyboards with the finished audio.

Four Masterpieces of Naohisa Inoue (34:46) shows the progress of paintings. There’s no sign of a brush or hand in the time lapse.

Background Art from “The Baron’s Story” (4:47) shows off the stunning work behind the animated figures.

Behind the Microphone (8:01) has Brittany Snow (Pitch Perfect) talk about the adventure in voicing finished animation. Ashley Tisdale and her discuss being friends and playing them in the film as they duet on “Country Roads.” We also get to spend time in the sound booth with Harold Gould, the dean of thespians.

Trailers (10:50) sells the family and fantastic elements of the movie.

DVD with everything on the Blu-ray except storyboards.

Shout! Factory & GKIDS present Whisper of the Heart. Directed by: Yoshifumi Kondô. Screenplay by: Hayao Miyazaki. Starring: Brittany Snow, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Cary Elwes and Harold Gould. Rated: G. Running Time: 111 minutes. Released: January 16, 2018.

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