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Whisper of the Heart

A-Z of Ghibli

This special screening precedes the A-Z of Ghibli live presentation from the Ghibliotheque podcast team.

In 1995, Whisper of the Heart was the first Ghibli film to be directed by someone other than its two founders, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Instead Yoshifumi Kondo, often seen as Miyazaki’s protégé, handled director duties (with a screenplay by Miyazaki) and were it not for Kondo’s death three years later, this film would have been an auspicious start to what would have surely been a sensational directorial career. 

“…considered among fans to be one of the studio’s hidden gems”

Based on the manga by Aoi Hiiragi, Whisper of the Heart follows Shizuku, a teenage girl who loves to read, who discovers that stranger named Seiji has also checked out the same books as her. When her path eventually crosses with Seiji, they become fast friends, each inspiring the other with their shared passions for music and writing. While this is a more intimate, grounded tale than some of Ghibli’s stranger flights of fancy, this film also marks the first appearance of the Baron, a dignified, well-dressed cat who reappears in 2002’s The Cat Returns. 

There is a gentle, patient romanticism to the film, and in Shizuku, a protagonist who is utterly relatable. Ghibli’s trademark animation is as spellbinding as always, and the immaculate backgrounds feel lived-in and richly authentic. It is at once a touching coming of age tale and a heartfelt celebration of the power of storytelling and art, and is considered among fans to be one of the studio’s hidden gems.