Whisper of the Heart (UK - BD RB)
Marcus falls in love with another Ghibli movie for the first time on Blu-ray disc.
Shizuku Tsukishima (Yōko Honna / Brittany Snow) is a young student who loves to read fantasy stories and write lyrics for songs. Her school work is going well, though she really should study more and her life is full of the usual teenage girl pastimes.
Discovering the books she's taken from the library all seem to have previously been borrowed by a Seiji Amasawa (Issei Takahashi / David Gallagher) she begins to wonder about this person must but when it turns out to be a boy from school who she has recently taken a dislike to, the chances of these two ever becoming friends are slight. However with a growing bond between the pair and a naturally forming friendship, Shizuku and Seiji begin to inspire one another and love begins to blossom.
This 1995 film with a screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki but directed by Yoshifumi Kondō is a Studio Ghibli project packed with heart and unlike their larger fantasy tales this one sits quite snugly in real life. Shizuku is simply a normal schoolgirl and the story takes its time, showing us her day to day life and her first steps towards her future.
The slow burning story's natural approach to first love is utterly wonderful and feels totally genuine as these young kids begin to think more of one another. It's not told in a large overly romantic way at all, with no grand acts of love or anything outrageous like that. Instead Whisper of the Heart has our characters slowly bond through their inspiration of one another and the gentle steps towards acknowledging their feelings for each other is something that makes Whisper of the Heart quite special.
Of course there's more to it than that. Areas like being apart from the one you love and longing to be a better person are given their time to be explored and in the small segments of fantasy visuals we get to see more of what we expect from Studio Ghibli with some magical elements revolving around talking cats (in fact the story of 'The Baron' here and the world of talking cats was so loved it spawned an indirect sequel ' The Cat Returns' in 2002 - which incidentally is a movie my family and I adore so discovering its origins here was great).
Well once again we are provided with a great HD presentation for a Studio Ghibli title. Made in 1995, the visuals have a slightly older appearance and are not quite as bright and colourful as other recent releases but the artwork here is still wonderful to look at.
The image is dirt free, has a much more naturalistic colour palette than say Ponyo and with the majority of the movie set in the real world it's really only the fantasy sequence with The Baron which gets more playful and has a more detailed, experimental and colourful time. This is a great looking disc and while the simple approach to the real world setting holds back the film from really popping, the Studio Ghibli artwork still looks great in HD and is a film full of more subtle greatness than big flashy set pieces.
The opening song and the theme to the film 'Country Road' starts with the version by Olivia Newton John. It initially sounds a little tinny and feels seperate from the visuals somehow but everytime the song comes back (and usually sung by schoolgirls) it sounds great, especially in the scene where Seiji's grandfather and his friends play along when it's sung.
The ambience created here is fantastic. Full sounding streets and a strong presence of nature outside of Shizuku's room and at the school fill the rear speakers and make the town feel totally alive despite seeing very little outside of the fixed camera on the lead characters.
There's some good strong dialogue, an enjoyable score and a few bits of bouncing fun music which makes for a great spread across the speakers. Once again the fantasy sequence comes to life a bit more with trumpets and the more fanciful elements of the score making for a solid all round track.
The Studio Ghibli Japanese trailers on this release are once again Nausicaa, Ponyo, Howl's Moving Castle, Tales from Earthsea, Laputa, and Spirited Away.
We can watch storyboards within a nice sized window throughout the entire film. 'Background Artwork from The Baron's Story' (04:46 HD) gives us a closer look at the elements in the fantasy seuqence and 'Four Masterpieces of Naohisa Inoue: From Start to Finish' (34:43 HD) shows a step by step of the artist's work and it's quite amazing.
'Behind the Microphone' (07:59 HD) is a look at the English cast doing their voice work and is very fluffy and last up are the original Japanese TV Spots (07:18 SD) and Japanese trailers (02:53).
Whisper of the Heart is a really small yet epic drama filled with all those wonderfully innocent things that make up a first love. Whisper of the Heart is a heartfelt masterpiece that captures a moment in life that sometimes is over before you get a chance to celebrate it and thankfully Hayao Miyazaki's studio has celebrated it for us. The disc itself is great across A/V and the extras focus almost entirely on the artwork as opposed to the making of the film itself. Never a bad thing. This is another great Ghibli release for our Blu-ray collections.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable for all
Release Date: 9th January 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Japanese, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Extras: DVD Copy, Storyboards, Background Artwork from the Baron's Story, Four Masterpieces of Naohisa Inoue, Behind the Microphone,TV Spots, trailers, Studio Ghibli trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Yoshifumi Kondō
Cast: Youko Honna, Kazuo Takahashi
Genre: Animation and Drama
Length: 111 minutes
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