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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Whisper of the Heart


Starring (voice): Issei Takahashi, Youko Honna and Keiju Kobayashi
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: PG
Available 09 January 2012

Suzuku Tsukishima is on the cusp of womanhood, entranced by the books in her father’s library; she discovers that all the books that she chooses have already been booked out by the same boy. When she finally meets Seiji she finds him both fascinating and infuriating in equal measure. Unbeknownst to her the antique shop which she discovers belongs to his grandfather. Within the shop is a striking statuette of a cat, a statuette which sparks her imagination, leading her to write a story about the cat coming to life...

Whisper of the Heart (1995 - 1 hr, 50 min, 49 sec) is a studio Ghibli film directed by Yoshifumi Kondô. Although it lacks the magical tropes used in the more famous Hayao Miyazaki films, the director provided the script for the film. This tale of love and imagination is another gem in the Ghibli crown. Kondô died soon after the completion of the film.

As if to prove that the studio’s reputation doesn’t just rely on the prodigious talents of Miyazaki, Kondô has produced a story which is full of heart. What magic it possesses comes from within the characters rather than being supplied by their external world.

The main themes of the film are love and ambition and the need to find a balance between the head and the heart. Both Suzuku and Seiji share a love of music, but when they first meet Seiji’s apparent disregard for her lyrics gets the relationship off to a bad start; soon their similarities draw the two together.

Suzuku’s discovery of the Baron, a German statue of a cat, fires Suzuku’s imagination, and her writing, to the detriment of her schooling. The crisis comes to a head when Suzuku discovers that if Seiji’s violin playing is good enough, his father has agreed to send him to Europe to complete his studies.

The fully restored print is, frankly, stunning, with neither artefacts nor print damage in evidence. The detailed environments are richly coloured, which looks great in high definition. The audio has also been upgraded to an English and Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 track.

The extras on the Blu-ray contain all of the previous material as well as supplying new stuff for the Blu-ray release.

The extras on the disc include Storyboards; these include the complete storyboards for the whole film which can be viewed as a picture within picture option, though this can be toggled whilst the film is playing. There is background artwork from The Barons Story (4 min, 46 sec) which runs as a self-playing slideshow.

Four Masterpieces of Naohisa Inoue: From Start to Finish (34 min, 43 sec) has time delayed slideshows of the construction of a number of paintings, you can watch as each layer is applied leading to the finished picture. Behind the Microphone (7 min, 59 sec) has contributions from the English dub artists talking about their experiences working on the movie.

The disc closes with four TV Spots (7 min, 18 sec), the Original Theatrical Trailers (2 min 53 sec), with two on offer and six Trailers (9 min, 42 sec) for other Studio Ghibli films.

It’s another wonderful film from Ghibli, though not as fantastical as Miyazaki’s own directorial work, there is much to admire and enjoy.


Charles Packer

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