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Whisper of the Heart

Shizuku Tsukishima is a 14-year-old student at Mukaihara Junior High School, where she is best friends with Yuko Harada. Living in Tokyo with her parents Asako and Seiya, as well as her older sister Shiho, Shizuku is a bookworm and is keen on writing. During an ordinary evening, she looks through the checkout cards in her library books. She discovers they have all been checked out by Seiji Amasawa. She begins to daydream about this mysterious man who shares her taste in books. Being a curious girl, she aims to find out who this man is. Coincidentally, Shizuku soon encounters an annoying young man, later revealed to be Seiji, who often teases her.

Finding a cat riding a train, Shizuku follows it to discover an antique shop run by Shiro Nishi. In the shop is a cat statuette, “The Baron”. After Shizuku returns home, she learns from Yuko that Sugimura has inadvertently upset her, as he does not know that Yuko has a crush on him. Sugimura, confused by both Yuko’s and Shizuku’s anger towards him, confronts Shizuku after school. Shizuku reveals that Yuko is in love with him while Sugimura declares that he has liked Shizuku for a long time. She, however, turns him down.

Shizuku returns to the antique shop and encounters Seiji there. She learns that Seiji is actually very nice and they befriend each other. There, Shizuku sings “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, a song she has been translating for her school graduation, accompanied by Seiji and Nishi. Seiji is revealed to be the grandson of Nishi. Seiji shares with her his dream of becoming a master luthier. The two begins to secretly slowly fall in love with each other. Days after the two meet, Seiji leaves for Cremona, Italy, for a two-month study with a master violin-maker. Inspired by Seiji’s sense of purpose with his life and feeling like she has to live up to him, Shizuku decides to test her talents as well. Discussing with Yuko, she decides to pursue her writing seriously during the two months. She asks Nishi if she can write about The Baron, to which Nishi grants his consent on the condition that he will be the first to read the finished story.

Shizuku begins to concoct a fantasy story featuring herself as the female protagonist, the Baron as the male hero who is looking for his lost love, Louise, and the cat she followed from the train (who is, among other names, known as “Moon” and “Muta”) as the story’s villain who took her from him. Devoting her time to her writing, Shizuku eats snack food, stays up until early in the morning, and her school grades drop. Shizuku argues with her family over her grades, and as she continues to push herself into finishing the story before Seiji returns, she begins to lose heart.

When her story is complete, Shizuku delivers the manuscript to Nishi. After Nishi reads Shizuku’s writing and gives her his benevolent assessment, she breaks down in tears because she knows that, despite her hard work, her story is not good enough. Consoling her with udon, Nishi reveals to Shizuku that when he studied in Germany in his youth, he found his first love, Louise. They discovered the twin statuettes of the Baron and his female companion in a cafe, but they could only purchase them singly because the female statuette was in repair at that time. Nishi kept the Baron while Louise would hold onto the Baron’s companion, and they and the two cat statuettes would reunite at a later time. However, the two lovers and the statues were subsequently separated during World War II and were never reunited.

Deciding she wants to attend high school to learn more about writing, Shizuku is returned home by Nishi and announces to her mother that she will return to her entrance exams full-time. The next morning, she discovers Seiji below on his bicycle. He has returned a day early, and decided to finish high school before returning to Cremona to become a luthier.

The two youngsters ride Seiji’s bike to a lookout and watch the sun rise over the city. While they are there, Seiji professes his love for Shizuku and proposes future marriage, which she happily accepts.

Info & Credits

Title Whisper of the Heart
Japanese Title
Japanese Title (Romanized) Mimi wo sumaseba (If You Listen Closely)
Release Date 1995
Rated G
Duration 1 hr 51 min

The characters

 image001 Shizuku Tsukishima
Shizuku is a hardworking good student. Or at least she was, but recently her life had gone out of sorts. Shizuku loves reading, and is constantly taking books out from the library and spending the time she should be studying reading them (Consequently her grades start slipping). Strangely all the books she takes out have already been withdrawn by the mysterious Seiji Awasama, who Shizuku can’t wait to meet..
 image002 Seiji Amasawa
Seiji is an earnest Violin-maker. He has two wishes in life: To go to Italy and train with the greatest of the Violin-makers and too finally get Shizuku to notice him.
 image003 Yuko Harada
Yuko is Shizuku’s best-friend; she has an impossible love life. She receives a love letter, but sadly, she is in love with Sugimura! Even more sadly, Sugimura is in love with Shizuku and has been for years!
 image004 Sugimura
Sugimura is in love with Shizuku, Yuko is in love with Sugimura, and Shizuku adores her best-friend, Yuko. Poor Sugimura doesn’t know if he’s coming or going, but when he’s turned down by Shizuku and she takes an interest in this new ‘Seiji’ he seems (as this is only from observation of the film)
 image005 Shirou Nishi
The kind, elderly owner of the antique shop. He seems to be an untroubled, gentle old man but he hides a sad past. His most precious possession is a statue named the Baron (See Return of the Cat) Who is brought to life (not literally) by Shizuku’s story. The ‘Baron’ is part of a set, he has a female partner, Louise. When the ‘Baron’ is reunited with Louise, Mr.Nishi will be reunited with a lost, person as well, a person very close to his heart….
 image006 Shiho Tsukishima
Shizuku’s older sister, who is a dedicated student, and only wants her sister to be the same.
 image007 Seiya Tsukishima
Shizuku’s father, he is the local librarian and is a soft-touch when it comes to Shizuku, he loves both his daughters but doesn’t really know what goes on in their lives.
image008 Asako Tsukishima
Asako is Shizuku’s mother but is nothing like her husband, she keeps a sharp eye on her daughters whenever she’s not rushed off her feet with work. When Shizuku’s grades start slipping she is not very pleased at all.
image009 Miss Kousaka
A popular member of staff at Shizuku’s school, she seems to be the school nurse, though it can not be confirmed. Shizuku, Yuko and the rest of that little group all adore Miss Kousaka and sometimes eat lunch with her.
image010 Moon
The fat cat that belongs to nobody. He is called by two names: Moon and Muta (See Return of the Cat) He leads Shizuku to Mr.Nishi’s antique shop, and generally seems to turn up at different moments throughout the film. He’s a grumpy, untrustworthy feline if you ask me. Still love him though.
image011 The Baron
A human-Cat like figurine. Who is featured in Shizuku’s story, and sits in Mr.Nishi’s antique shop.

Production Credits

Director Yoshifumi Kondou
Original Work Aoi Hîragi
Screenplay / Storyboards Hayao Miyazaki
Screenplay and Adaptation (US) Cindy Davis Hewitt, Donald H. Hewitt, Jim Hubbert
Executive Producers Yasuyoshi Tokuma, Seiichiro Ujiie, Takashi Shoji, Tatsumi Yamashita, Tsutomu Otsuka, Rick Dempsey (US)
Producers Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki, Ned Lott (US)
Original Music Yuji Nomi
Non-Original Music Bill Danoff, John Denver, Taffy Nivert (“Take Me Home, Country Roads”)
Casting (US) Ned Lott
Cinematography Kitaro Takasaka
Editing Takeshi Seyama
Production Manager Nozomu Takahashi
Art Director Satoshia Kuroda

Voice Casting

Character English Japanese
Shizuku Tsukishima Brittany Snow Youko Honna
Seiji Amasawa David Gallagher Kazuo Takahashi
Yuko Harada Ash Maiko Kayama
Shiho Tsukishima Courtney Thorne-Smith Yorie Yamashita
Yasunari (Seiya) Tsukishima James B. Sikking Takashi Tachibana
Asako Tsukishima Jean Smart Shigeru Muroi
The Baron Cary Elwes Shigeru Tsuyuguchi
Shirou Nishi Harold Gould Keiju Kobayashi
Sugimura Martin Spanjers Yoshizane Nakajima
Kinuyo Mika Boorem Mayumi Iizuka
Kousaka-sensei (Miss Kousaka) ??? Minami Takayama

Whisper of the Heart Trailer

Screenshots from the movie




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