You may have missed this Studio Ghibli film since it is approaching its twenty second anniversary in July, but you still have time to seek it out, and it is well worth the search.
The first film produced by Ghibli that was not directed by either Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, it is much quieter than some of the studio’s better known films. The story focuses on fourteen year old Shizuku dealing with two big coming-of-age moments: realizing her passion/dream to write, and navigating her first love.
A seemingly banal story is rendered beautifully in fully realized and relatable characters, as well as the little moments of youth that do so much to shape us, but are seldom remembered after we grow up. And as the highest grossing Japanese film on the domestic market in 1995 it’s clear director Yoshifumi Kondo did something right with his debut feature.
Unfortunately, he is a tragic one hit wonder as he died suddenly in 1998 of an aortic dissection. As the first chosen successor for Miyazaki and Takahata you can see all the best parts of his mentors in the celebration of everyday moments and the magic we can create for ourselves. As well as a heroine trying to find herself and follow her dreams by truly working for them.
If you’re in the mood for something sweet, without being saccharine, and truly human, be sure to seek out “Whisper of the Heart.”