Title: Whisper of the Heart (耳をすませば)
Released: 1995

Director: Yoshifumi Kondō
Class Superlative: Sweethearts

In a Land of Pure Imagination Realistic Situations

Shizuku’s a total bookworm. She’s devouring her way through the library catalogue, but she keeps seeing the same name on the books’ checkout cards: Seiji Amasawa. The elusive Seiji Amasawa (Seiji Amasawa. SEIJI AMASAWA.*) leads Shizuku to unexpected discoveries of dreams, inspiration, … and loooooove.

*Srsly, you could make a mini drinking game from every time someone says Seiji Amasawa. (Fortch, alcohol isn’t necessary to enjoy this movie.)

Adorable Child Courtship Alert

This movie def. rocks the enemistry — aka FAVOURITE. (Although I’m not quite sure why; IRL, my enemies are never that hot.)

Clearly, the lady doth protest too much. Because there’s something there that wasn’t there beforeeeee

And Shizuku gets to live the bookish fantasy: library flirtation!

But nothing can compare to this AMAZEBALLS jam sesh.

Lovable Anthropomorphic Sidekicks

Muta’s kind of an asshole. So obviously, I LOVE HIM.

And of course, the star of the story that Shizuku writes (AND THE STORY OF MEGAN’S OUR DREAMS) — the Baron.

Wait, WTF?

It’s been nearly a month since I watched this movie, and this song is still stuck in my head. But LOL, like that’s actually a bad thing. This song is the cat’s pajamas!

Also, it’s totally not weird to covet an animated teenager’s wardrobe, right? SHIZUKU, LET’S TRADE CLOTHES. 

And not a WTF, but a giant frowny face for the tragedy behind the scenes. This was the first and last movie by director Yoshifumi Kondō, prior to his sudden death at the age of 47, likely brought on by excess work. Kondō was a rising star at Studio Ghibli, and he was expected to be the eventual successor to head honchos Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Even though Kondō’s tenure at Studio Ghibli was brief, his legacy lives on in the brilliance and the promise that shines through Whisper of the Heart.

Famous Voices

Class Superlative: Sweethearts

This movie is so sweet and full of hope. Maybe even a little too sweet, but even my cold, dark heart is willing to embrace its optimism. It also captures the gamut of emotions that is writer’s block. Like desperation: 

Technically, Shizuku’s anguish above isn’t over writing, but I’m going for a theme here. Work with me, y’all.

Desolation (sans Smaug): 

And occasionally, a little elation: 

Shizuku: “Ahh! I love being a writer!”

Exploring the Studio Ghibli Vault

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.