Last Updated 20 Apr 2022

A Whisper of the Heart

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The feature film Whisper of the Heart by Studio Ghibli is about a Fourteen year old girl names Shizuku Tsukishima from a small school on the outskirts of Tokyo and her adventures that lead her to Italy.

She is a typical flighty girl who does not apply herself to her studies, instead she uses most of her time reading fairy tales and her work in putting words to the song : “Take Me Home, Country Roads”.

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Another thing that preoccupies her is the writing of a fantasy novel that revolves around a cat figurine named The Baron, that she sees at Mr. Nishi’s antique shop. In relation to the quote “ Despite the many exceptions, a general apathy to realism as a style is one explanation for the enormous popularity of manga and anime”, the film gains its audience from the escapist and anti-establishment appeal.

For example Shizuku essentially abandons her studies to dedicate herself to writing a book. Given her age, 14, she is only in junior high school, abandoning her studies at this point will have dire consequence for her future.

This is essentially a counter-culture in Japan where education is still valued and where many teenagers will beat their heads on the wall in collegiate entrance exam review schools euphemistically called “Cram Schools” in order to get into the finest universities. Their motivation is because those who come from good school are practically assured of a worthy corporate career.

Another instance of this is Seiji a boy, who like Shizuku, abandons the traditional path of success (Study Hard to get a good Job etc.) and chooses to be Luthier. The career has an uncertain future in Japan and requiring an apprenticeship abroad.

The films subplot involving a cat named The Baron, in Shizuku’s book is so popular that another film was made about the book. The Movie whisper in the wind is a head in the clouds adventure that many Japanese youths, disenchanted by the failures of the old ways because Japan has been in recession for more than a decade, sympathize with despite its unrealistic and flighty plot.

A Whisper of the Heart essay

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