Whisper of the Heart (耳をすませば , Mimi wo Sumaseba') is an animated film directed by Yoshifumi Kondō and produced by Studio Ghibli and was released alongside "On Your Mark" on July 15, 1995. Its original Japanese title is Mimi wo Sumaseba (耳をすませば?), which means "if you listen closely".
The film is based on the 1989 manga of the same name by Aoi Hiiragi and published by Shueisha. The screenplay was written by Hayao Miyazaki. This is the first theatrical Studio Ghibli feature to be directed by someone other than Miyazaki or Takahata, and the only film to be directed by Yoshifumi Kondō, who died in 1998 of a ruptured aneurysm at age of 47. Studio Ghibli had hoped that Kondō would become the successor to Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. This was also the first collaboration with surrealist painter Naohisa Inoue. The poster's advertising slogan is "I have a favorite person.", coined by Shigesato Itoi.
The film's plot and setting deviate from the original manga, with the film being set in Tama City, Hino City and Musashino in Tokyo. In 2020, a live-action movie starring Nana Seino and Tori Matsuzaka was scheduled to be released on September 18, 2020, but was delayed for an undisclosed reason.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Source Material
- 3 Behind the Scenes
- 4 Music
- 5 Release
- 6 Reception
- 7 References to other Studio Ghibli films
- 8 Remarks
- 9 Sequel
- 10 Voice Cast
- 11 Credits
- 12 References
- 13 External Links
One summer evening in 1994, Shizuku Tsukishima, a junior high school girl living in Tama New Town, a Tokyo suburb, looks through the checkout cards in her library books and notices a pattern: Each book had previously been checked out by someone named "Seiji Amasawa". The next day at school, Shizuku shows her friend Yuko a draft of the song she has been writing for graduation. On the way home, Shizuku realizes she left her book at the school. She rushes back, only to find a boy her age reading it. He hands it back to her and comments on her lyrics, calling them "corny" — which leaves her feeling irritable for the rest of the evening.
The next morning on the train, Shizuku sees a large cat named Moon is apparently traveling by itself. When it gets off, she follows it to an antique shop, where she sees a statue of a cat in formal clothing. The owner of the shop, Shirō Nishi, tells her the statue's name is Baron Humbert von Jikkingen. He also shows her a recently restored grandfather clock, that tells a tale of the King of the Dwarves and a Fairy Queen. Shizuku is in awe, considering the shop a place where stories begin. Shizuku notices that it is noon and rushes off to take lunch to her father, but forgets her lunchbox in the shop. Just outside the library, the boy she had met the previous day returns the lunchbox. He comments on how much food is in the box and rides away, singing her song, leaving Shizuku in another foul mood.
Breeze Blowing on the Hilltop
Later, Shizuku goes to visit the antique shop again and finds it closed. The boy shows up and lets her in to see The Baron. Downstairs, she sees his workshop, where he is making a violin. She asks him to play, and he complies on the condition that she will sing along. Midway through the song, Mr. Nishi and two friends arrive and play an accompaniment, and Shizuku learns that the boy is in fact Seiji Amasawa, the same person who had checked out all the library books. On the way home, he tells her his dream is to become a master Luthier. He is fighting with his parents for the chance to go to Cremona, Italy to study with a master. He compliments her on her lyrics and tells her she is talented.
The next morning at school, Seiji tells Shizuku his parents will allow him to go to Cremona for two months to study with a master to see if he shows potential. The two confess that they have feelings for each other, and Seiji admits that he checked out all those library books hoping it would get her attention. That evening, Shizuku tells Yuko she worries she is not good enough for Seiji, since he seems to know what he wants to do in life. She decides to test her talent, too; she will write a book to see if her skills are good enough. She asks Mr. Nishi's permission to write about The Baron in her story. He agrees, provided he is allowed to be the first to read it.
I'll Write a Story!
Shizuku begins to devote all her time to working on her book, and her grades start to slip. Her parents are concerned but decide to trust her. When it is finished, Mr. Nishi reads it and tells her it is very good but not yet perfect. Shizuku decides that attending high school is the best way to learn more about writing.
Early the next morning, Shizuku looks out her window and sees Seiji below. He tells her to get on the back of his bike, and they ride to a steep hill, which he says he wants to ride up carrying her. But she hops off to help push, saying she wants to help him, not be a burden to him. They make it to the top and look out at the incredible view, waiting for the sunrise. He tells her he has decided to finish high school, then go back to Cremona to study. Shizuku thanks him for pushing her to do her best and learn more about herself. Seiji asks her if, once he becomes a luthier, she would consent to marry him. She happily tells him she hoped it would be that way and agrees. Seiji then hugs Shizuku and loudly proclaims that he loves her.
Whisper of the Heart was based on the manga "Mimi o Sumaseba" which was originally created by Aoi Hiiragi. The manga was serialized in Shueisha's shōjo manga magazine Ribon between August and November 1989, and a single tankōbon volume was released in February 1990. The volume was reprinted on July 15, 2005.
A second manga by the same author titled "Mimi o Sumaseba: Shiawase na Jikan" was serialized in Shueisha's Ribon Original in 1995. A spiritual sequel to this film adaption, "The Cat Returns", was turned back into a manga by Aoi Hiiragi, under the name "Baron: Neko no Danshaku".
Behind the Scenes
In the summer of 1989, Hayao Miyazaki was taking break at his father-in-law's mountain lodge atelier following the release of "Kiki's Delivery Service". It was when he visited a supermarket of an agricultural cooperative that he bought a shōjo manga magazine containing the second serialized manga of "Whisper of the Heart". The story caught Miyazaki's eye, which gave him the idea to adapt it into an animated feature film. It is said that Toshio Suzuki, Mamoru Oshii, Hideaki Anno and Miyazaki, who were on vacation together, expanded the story of the manga, and when Miyazaki actually read the whole story, he remarked, " The story is different. Suzuki asked, "what will happen at the end of this story"?
They immediately contacted the original author, Aoi Hiiragi, a longtime fan of Miyazaki. He recalls, "When I heard on the phone from the person in charge that Miyazaki wanted to make this work into a movie, I couldn't believe it, and I thought, "This is a joke, right?".
Miyazaki stated he wasn't drawn to the idealized encounters of a young couple often found in shōjo love stories, and instead wanted to convey the challenges they would face in supporting one another towards an uncertain future, "This work is a kind of provocation to young people by uncles who leave their youth with regret." "This work is a challenge to sing the wonderfulness of living while giving a certain reality to one idealized encounter." Miyazaki laughs, "Let's do our best like this too."
Miyazaki knew he needed to make changes to the original manga's story in order it to have a sense of urgency; a "time limit". Thus, the protagonists were changed from first to third grade in junior high school, Seiji is no longer a budding painter but has dreams of studying abroad to make violins thus giving him a clearly defined goal, and Shizuki's older sister Shiho is now a college student who leaves who in the latter half of the film.
With these changes, Miyazaki feels the story is given more clarity. Shizuku no longer has time to let her dreams and ambitions languish as she fears Seiji leaving. However, the story also shows the pitfalls of rushing to realize those goals too quickly, as seen in the dream sequence where Shizuku is in a tunnel and finds a mineral, only for it to be revealed as a dead chick. Miyazaki wanted to impart the lesson that Shizuku's obsession with writing led her to neglect her studies and made her parents worry.
Another theme Miyazaki reveals in the film is the idea of a "diamond in the rough", which can be liked to how the original manga by Aoi has been worked on to become the film Yoshifumi Kondô would eventually direct. Miyazaki defended the film's ending of the young couple deciding to marry, saying that it was his idea. Miyazaki wanted Shizuku and Seiji to "commit to something."
This is the first feature film from Yoshifumi Kondō, who was an animator for Studio Ghibli since the end of the 1980s, and the character design and animation director for Isao Takahata's "Grave of the Fireflies" (1988) and "Only Yesterday" (1991). Kondo has long wanted to make a film like "Totoro, but without Totoro" with adolescent children as the protagonists. "I wish I could do it, and in that sense I am really happy to be able to make this anime."
The fantastical backgrounds in the fantasy sequences of the film were created by Japanese surrealist painter Naohisa Inoue and were directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The world of "Iblard" would eventually spun into "Iblard Jikan" and the Ghibli Museum-exclusive short, "Hoshi o Katta Hi". The illustration of the imprisoned musician was created by Miyazaki's son Keisuke Miyazaki, a professional wood carver.
Miyazaki wrote the screenplay and drew up the storyboards used in the film, along with acting as the general producer. The film's art direction was headed by Satoshi Kuroda, who worked closely with Kazuo Oga on "Porco Rosso" (1992) and other Ghibli projects such as "Only Yesterday" (1991) and "Kiki's Delivery Service".
During the closing credits, Shizuku and Seiji can be seen at the top of the screen, riding over the bridge on Seiji's bicycle. Later in the credits, Yuko meets Sugimura on the bridge and they walk off together. On the American (Disney) version of the DVD, these closing scenes are fully visible in the English-language version of the film. However, in the Japanese-language version on the same DVD, the top of the screen is cropped during the closing credits, cutting off the heads of the people passing over the bridge.
This film is officially set in Tama City, Tokyo, and the cityscape is modeled around Seiseki-Sakuragaoka Station on the Keio Line in Tama City, Tokyo. For example, the platform of Sugimiya Station has a signboard of "Tama Clinic", and the trash can of the school has " Tama City " written on it.
The school that Shizuku attends in the play is modeled after the Koganei Daiichi Junior High School. In the original manga, the school is based on "Midoricho Machihara Junior High School", which itself is based in Koganei City. In addition, Studio Ghibli's production studio happens to be located in Koganei City (the area is Kajino-cho). However, since the original manga was made in 1989 while the film was in production in 1993 - 1994, it is a complete coincidence that "Midoricho" actually exists in Koganei City, where Studio Ghibli's production studio is located.
Whisper of the Heart (Image Album) (耳をすませば サウンドトラック , Mimi wo Sumaseba Imeeji Arubamu) was a 10-track album released by Tokuma Japan Communications on February 25, 1995.
Whisper of the Heart (Original Soundtrack) (耳をすませば サウンドトラック , Mimi wo Sumaseba Saundotorakku) was released by Tokuma Japan Communications on July 10, 1995. The film's score was composed and arranged by Yuji Nomi, the protégé of acclaimed composer Ryuichi Sakamoto.
In the film, Shizuku creates translations of the song "Take Me Home, Country Roads" (originally co-written and recorded by John Denver) into Japanese for her school's chorus club. She also wrote her own humorous Japanese version of the song, called "Concrete Road", about her hometown in western Tokyo. The songs were actually translated by producer Toshio Suzuki's daughter, Mamiko, with Miyazaki writing supplemental lyrics. These songs play a role at various points in the story. A recording of "Country Roads", performed by Olivia Newton-John, plays during the film's opening sequence, as does Yoko Honna's version at the end.
- 15 July 1995 - Movie theater in Japan
- December 1995 - VHS release in Japan
- December 1998 - Newer release in Japan
- 7 March 2006 - Release by Disney
- 2008 - DVD release in Japan
The film was paired with Chage and Aska's "On Your Mark" during its theatrical run in 1995. This was the first Japanese film to use the Digital Dolby Digital sound format. An English dub of this film was released by Buena Vista Home Entertainment on March 7, 2006. Turner Classic Movies televised both the dubbed and subbed versions on January 18, 2006 as part of their month-long celebration of Miyazaki (in honor of his birthday, January 5). The English title, Whisper of the Heart, was created by Studio Ghibli and used on several officially licensed "character goods" released around the same time as the film was released in theaters in Japan.
Whisper of the Heart was the highest-grossing Japanese film on the domestic market in 1995, earning ¥1.85 billion in distribution income. Whisper of the Heart received very positive reviews from film critics. It has a 91% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 11 reviews. Time Out London included Whisper of the Heart in their Top 50 Animated Film list. It was also included in Film4's Top 25 Animated Film list. On Anime News Network, Michael Toole gave it an overall grade of A-, calling it "beautiful and evocative; a fine tale of adolescent yearning and aspiration."
References to other Studio Ghibli films
- The clock in the store there is an inscription of "Porco Rosso", film under the same name released by Studio Ghibli in 1992.
- In the school library where Shizuku takes the book, among other books, there is a volume with the inscription "Totoro". It is on the shelf below, 14th from the left, after four blue books. The film "My Neighbor Totoro" was released by Studio Ghibli in 1988.
- The figure of a witch on a broom in the Shizuku room when she begins to write a novel is the main character of the film "Kiki's Delivery Service", which Studio Ghibli released in 1989.
Difference between the film and the manga
- In the original, Shizuku is a freshman in junior high school, but in the movie she is the third year of junior high school.
- Seiji is a painter in the original and a violinist in the movie.
- In the scene where Shizuku first encounters Seiji, he makes fun of the contents of the book Shizuku is reading in the manga but in the movie, he makes fun of the lyrics of "Concrete Road" (a parody of "Country Road").
- In the original manga, Koji, the brother of Seiji, makes an appearance.
- Shio is a high school student in the original, but a college student in the movie.
- Shio has a relaxed personality in the original, but has a strong personality in the movie.
- The mother of the Tsukishima sisters is a working college student and a realist in the movie, but in the original, she is a full-time housewife and has a strong personality (similar to Shio in the movie).
- In the original, the Tsukishima family lives in a single house, but in the movie, they live in an apartment complex.
- The original, Moon is a black cat and has an older sister named Luna. There was concern that audience would confuse Moon with Jiji from "Kiki's Delivery Service", and also Miyazaki's principle that "I will not do the same thing twice". Kondo insisted on using a black cat but Miyazaki said, "I don't think so," The two directors confronted each other, with Kondo saying it didn't matter and insisted he wanted Moon to be black cat. A vote was raised and Ghibli staff decided against the black cat idea.
- In the original, the setting was in a small town, but the movie is set in the city.
Over the course of the film, Shizuku is working on a fantasy novel that revolves around a cat figurine, named The Baron, that she sees in Mr. Nishi's antique store. The short fantasy scenes that depict what she is writing in her novel were so popular with fans that Studio Ghibli released a film based on the baron in 2002 "The Cat Returns".
|Character||Japanese cast||English dub cast|
|Shizuku Tsukishima (月島 雫, Tsukishima Shizuku)||Yoko Honna||Brittany Snow|
|Seiji Amasawa (天沢 聖司 Amasawa Seiji)||Issei Takahashi||David Gallagher|
|Yuko Harada||Maiko Kayama||Ashley Tisdale|
|Sugimura||Yoshimi Nakajima||Martin Spanjers|
|Baron Humbert von Gikkingen||Shigeru Tsuyuguchi||Cary Elwes|
|Seiya Tsukishima||Takashi Tachibana||James Sikking|
|Asako Tsukishima||Shigeru Muroi||Jean Smart|
|Shiro Nishi||Keiju Kobayashi||Harold Gould|
|Shiho Tsukishima||Yorie Yamashita||Courtney Thorne-Smith|
|Kosaka||Minami Takayama||Vicki Davis|
|Kinuyo||Mayumi Iizuka||Mika Boorem|
|Nao||Mai Chiba||Abigail Mavity|
|Kita||Toshio Suzuki||Walker Edmiston|
|Minami||Naohisa Inoue||Corey Burton|
|Screenplay, Storyboard||Hayao Miyazaki|
|Chief Executive Producer||Yasuyoshi Tokuma|
|Executive Producer||Seiichiro Ujiie, Takashi Tōkairin|
|Animation Director||Kitaro Kosaka|
|Character Design||Kitaro Kosaka|
|Key Animation||Atsuko Otani, Atsuko Tanaka (Telecom Animation Film), Hideaki Yoshio, Hiroko Minowa, Hiroyuki Aoyama (Telecom Animation Film), Hiroyuki Inoue, Hisao Yokobori (Telecom Animation Film), Kenichi Konishi, Kenichi Yamada, Kenichi Yoshida, Kuniyuki Ishii, Makiko Futaki, Masaaki Endou, Masako Shinohara, Masaru Matsuse, Masashi Ando, Masaya Saito, Megumi Kagawa, Noriko Moritomo, Shinji Otsuka, Shinsaku Sasaki, Takehiro Noda, Takeshi Inamura, Teiichi Takiguchi (Telecom Animation Film), Toshio Kawaguchi, Tsutomu Awada, Yoshiyuki Momose, Yuichiro Yano (Telecom Animation Film)|
|Background Artists||Akira Yamakawa, Katsu Hisamura, Kazuo Oga, Kiyomi Oota, Kyōko Naganawa, Naohisa Inoue (fantasy sequence), Naomi Kasugai, Naoya Tanaka, Nizo Yamamoto, Ryoko Ina, Sayaka Hirahara, Seiki Tamura, Yoshikazu Fukutome, Yoji Takeshige|
|Fantasy Sequence Director||Hayao Miyazaki|
|Color Design||Michiyo Yasuda|
|Art Director||Satoshi Kuroda|
|Production Committee||Akio Ichimura (Studio Ghibli), Akira Kaneko (Tokuma Shoten), Chinami Yanagisawa (Studio Ghibli), Fujio Nishida (Hakuhodo), Hatsuhiko Sawada (Hakuhodo), Hidehiko Takei (NTV), Hiroshi Morie (Hakuhodo), Hiroshi Takahashi (NTV), Hisaomi Saito (Hakuhodo), Junko Ito (Tokuma Shoten), Koichi Aoto (Tokuma Shoten), Masahiko Nishizawa (Tokuma Shoten), Masayoshi Suzuki (Tokuma Shoten), Naoya Fujimaki (Hakuhodo), Noriko Tachie (NTV), Ryoko Tsutsui (Tokuma Shoten), Shigeru Kobayashi (Studio Ghibli), Shigeru Ohno (Hakuhodo), Shinsuke Nonaka (Studio Ghibli), Shokichi Arai (Studio Ghibli), Suzuko Fujimoto (NTV), Taketaka Hosaka (NTV), Tomoki Horaguchi (Studio Ghibli), Yasuharu Urushido (NTV)|
|Assistant Director||Hiroyuki Ito, Masahiko Otsuka,|
- "Whisper of the Heart" live-action movie, Fashion Press
- "Happiness if you listen" Shueisha, Ribon Mascot Comics, 1996, p. 115.
- "Whisper of the Heart" Movie Pamphlet, "A dialogue between Yoshifumi Kondô and Aoi Hiiragi".
- Studio Ghibli Storyboard Complete Works "Whisper of the Heart / On Your Mark", Tokuma Shoten, 2001, page 5.
- Whisper of the Heart on Disney
- Whisper of the Heart on Yahoo Movies
- Whisper of the Heart on Disney Japan