They’re the best Anime that 1995 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Gotou ni Naritai., Slam Dunk: Shouhoku Saidai no Kiki! Moero Sakuragi Hanamichi, Slam Dunk: Hoero Basketman-damashii! Hanamichi to Rukawa no Atsuki Natsu, and more!
5: Gotou ni Naritai.
MAL Score: 7.06
Story of a girl born with a bad leg. Ritsuko longs to go to school and make lots of friends but it is not so easy. Her mother is very protective of her and at school she is teased by her classmates for her strange way of walking. Will she manage to keep her smile?
Considering that this was made in 1995, the animation is clearly rather sub-par, at best. However, the animators did a great job at giving every single character a distinct look and, once again, giving them physical flaws, such as obesity and small eyes and big teeth. One problem I notice in a lot of new anime nowadays is that everyone doesn’t have their own distinct look. Everyone looks the same, except with different hair styles, hair colors, and eye colors, which is especially apparent in a lot of harem and moe anime. Not only that, they’re so obsessed with beauty that they have no physical flaws, like big teeth or braces or acne or anything else like that! Even American shows feature characters with those peculiarities and insecurities! What is it with Japan and making everyone look impossibly beautiful and flawless?! Thank God this anime subverted that trope awesomely! The soundtrack isn’t memorable, really. I don’t remember any of it.
Again, like with the other two disability movies, its characters are awesome, realistic, and wonderfully developed. While they look and act slightly generic, they’re not flat-out stereotypes either, and there’s always a reason behind their actions. Heck, later on in the movie, the two main bullies who pick on Ritsuko have their reasons for being so cruel. The movie addresses the issue of love, hate, jealousy (NOT romantic jealousy, mind you), and acceptance, and it follows through its themes wonderfully. They’re all great and perfectly normal characters. The adults are good too, even though some of them may be a little weird.
If I had to name some problems this movie has, one notable one would be that at times, it gets a little too melodramatic, particularly with Ritsuko’s mother and how she reacts to the bullies. But in this case, it’s justified because Ritsuko’s mother is portrayed as an overprotective person, and Ritsuko is embarrassed by her reckless actions (Hey, what kid ISN’T embarrassed by the things their parents do at one point?), so I can let it slide. Also, while I do like Ritsuko’s doctor for being so supportive of her, I’m really confused: are blind people even allowed to be doctors? Or is he just a therapist? I have no idea, even with the subs! Are blind people allowed to be therapists?
Well, even with it’s glaringly obvious flaws, I still liked this movie. Unfortunately, the two other disability movies trump it, though it definitely shouldn’t be so neglected.
I’m usually not a fan of old anime, but it’s not like I never give them a chance. This was also an exception, and oh how glad I am it was.
Ritsuko has trouble walking, she’s been ill since birth, but did her best to keep up with the others, to be able to walk like the others.
If I really don’t want to spoiler anything, I better not write anything, because that’s the way I watched this too. I barely knew anything about what would happen.
The art is of course old, but not in the way that it ruins the enjoyment, not at all. I don’t find it bad the least bit, but in comparison to the anime of today of course it looks a bit worse. I think this shouldn’t discourage anyone to watch it.
Personally what I loved most about this was the character staff and the story. I don’t have any disability but there were several things in it that I could connect with, and I’m sure many of you would have a lot too.
This was the first anime that I literally sobbed because of. I just couldn’t hold my tears back.
4: Slam Dunk: Shouhoku Saidai no Kiki! Moero Sakuragi Hanamichi
Japanese: スラムダンク 湘北最大の危機！燃えろ桜木花道
MAL Score: 7.57
After losing the titanic match against Kainan High, Team Shohoku and a newly shaven Hanamichi Sakuragi are challenged to an exhibition match by virtual basketball unknowns Ryoukufu High. Coach Anzai sees this as an opportunity for Shohoku to regain their confidence, but Ryoukufu are revealed to have a newly assembled championship calibre lineup and may give Sakuragi & Co their toughest test yet.
Even i laughed too the same as Sakuragi’s gank, Haruko with her two friends laughed, Ryota, and Micchi laughed at Hamaichi until they stomatch hurt >.< Very Slam Dunk's style, just like they always do! Also some new characters begin to appear here, like Michael Okita and co Winning is not everything. That's the motto we got from this 3rd movie Love the ending song! Cool music and lyrics [/collapse] [collapse title=“Reviews2:”]Another good movie from the Slam Dunk series. A good story with some meaning to it and the great comedy as usual with good pacing. The animation and sound were good as usual. I love the music from Slam Dunk. Some new characters were introduced in this movie but they were not that deep and were just ok. Overall an enjoyable movie and I recommend if you have finished the Slam Dunk series this movie is a recommended watch to get to the know the main and supporting characters a bit more but not completely necessary since it doesn't affect the actual story too much. [/collapse]
3: Slam Dunk: Hoero Basketman-damashii! Hanamichi to Rukawa no Atsuki Natsu
Japanese: スラムダンク 吠えろバスケットマン魂!!花道と流川の熱き夏
MAL Score: 7.67
Ichiro Mizusawa, a player from Rukawa’s old junior high school, Tomigoaka, is diagnosed with a crippling leg condition and wants to play one last game with Rukawa. Hanamichi sets out to help the boy and fulfill his wish.
[collapse title=“Reviews1:”]The full 39 minutes of this movie had really made a big impact on me. I am already a fan of slam dunk since high school. And now that I am already working, I still re-read and re-watch slam dunk whenever I like, but this is the first time that I’ve watch all of its movie. And there is only one thing that I could say after watching this 4th movie……
“I am still waiting for inoue-sensei to continue slam dunk until shohoku conquers the national tournament, I think all of us do, right?!! He left us hanging, darn it! But I will still wait…. I will wait…
Well actually this movie doesn’t need a review anymore because we all know how inoue-sensei does his work, as always a great piece. n_n
Overall a very enjoyable and also an emotional Slam Dunk movie. Man I need to forget this movie if I wanna experience it again, I can’t put it in words!
MAL Score: 7.73
Memories is a compilation of three standalone short films encompassing different genres.
In the far reaches of space, after tracing a distress signal to a large abandoned space station, a pair of engineers—Heintz Beckner and Miguel Costrela—find a derelict mansion and decide to explore on foot. Their investigation reveals a dark secret surrounding the fate of Eva Friedel, a renowned opera singer with a tragic history. Hallucinations soon begin to plague them, and they must fight to retain their sanity in order to escape the station alive.
Hapless lab technician Nobuo Tanaka consumes some pills at his laboratory to cure a cold. Unknown to him, however, the pills are actually experimental drugs that enhance his flatulence to a lethal degree. As the toxic gas escaping him kills everyone in his vicinity, he is ordered by his superiors to retreat to the company headquarters in Tokyo. The journey to the city is made all the more arduous as Nobuo struggles with his deadly odor while the police, military, and foreign adversaries are hot on his trail.
In a fortress city filled to the brim with cannons, a young boy wishes to surpass his father by becoming a revered artillery officer. Despite no proof of an enemy nation, he cannot resist the urge to partake in the daily bombardment routines organized by the city. Whether at school or just before bedtime, he only dreams of someday firing a cannon for the sake of his homeland.
I am going to address every story separately, as I think everything will be clearer this way. I am also going to say my final remarks at the end.
This is the only short of the three that deserves to be called Memories. The atmosphere is done in an incredible way that always leaves the viewer on the edge of his seat, expecting something to happen and creating even more tension in the process. The visual style plays a big part on that and it also is pretty and well-detailed, but visually old.
This short as a whole is incredible, actually, I think that it would have been actually better as a sole and full-length movie, as that way we would have been able to explore this wonderfully tragic story with more time and it wouldn’t have to be paired with the other movies. Needless to say after that, Magnetic Rose is my favorite short of this collection and the best one, by far.
Supposedly, this short was comedy, but no one in the room I watched it laughed. More than that, the story feels unimaginative and the characters are so ridiculously dumb that it makes you wonder how they became scientists of that level. Despite that, I got to say that it is very pretty, albeit a bit old-styled.
This was, for me, a terrible short. I actually was glad that it ended. The quality drop between the two first short is astounding actually. I can’t really recommend it to anyone.
This short is, at least for me, a well-defined criticism to some cultures and elements of our society. In that it is pretty successful, but it doesn’t manage to tell a particularly interesting story in the process.
Its most marking characteristic is its visuals, specially when paired with the awesome soundtrack that accompanies it. I would categorize the visuals as experimental and unique. Also, it is not really possible to explain it, you just got watch it to understand it. Also, it uses a trick similar to the recent Birdman to make it seem as if the movie is just one continuous shot.
Cannon Fodder is experimental and interesting, but it definitely isn’t something everybody would enjoy. I would recommend it to people who enjoy experimental stuff or this style of criticism.
As a collection, Memories fails, its title doesn’t fit, the themes have nothing in common and, overall, it isn’t that good. The only great short it has is Magnetic Rose, that is an incredible sci-fi. Because of that, I can’t recommend it whole-heartedly to anyone. My advice is: watch only the first short and, maybe, give the third one a try if you enjoy that type of stuff; just skip the second one, for your own sake.
To put it in one word, impressive. It boasts some of the most resplendent animation and music that compliments the unnerving tone and setting, along with the script being in the hands of Satoshi Kon. The short chronicles how the Corona, a salvage freighter in deep space comes upon a strange space station after responding to a distress signal. The two engineers of the crew, Heintz and Miguel, enter and discover a luxurious European interior that once belonged to famed opera singer named Eva. As the two engineers further explore they both become engulfed in Eva’s memories through a series of paranormal encounters, with both men each reliving their own memories.
For a ghost story, this is one of the best I’ve ever seen. In a 40-minute duration it delivers on capturing the essence of the anthology title, creating a haunting yet intriguing world of one’s past, and presents a disturbing message of the dangers of living in the past. Eva is a literal representation of that very message and attempts to lure both men into her past, and while some may resist, others might be more willing to fall into the trap, seeing it as an escape to a better place. Magnetic Rose explores love lost and the desperation of a lonely person determined to regain a kind of love so precious, no matter what the cost. This idea is woven masterfully into the plot, making it as thought-provoking as it is terrifying. Kon’s style of storytelling is also present here, blurring the lines between reality and hallucinations and keeping viewers thinking throughout its duration. Fun fact for any film buffs out there: This short also holds references to other sci-fi films such as Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey with certain scenes, yet never feels cheap or derivative. Magnetic Rose has these familiar elements and makes them feel fresh, a testament to the staff behind this show. The overall story exudes intrigue and ends in a way that answers enough questions to feel satisfying and make sense, yet leaves enough to viewer interpretation to leave its mark.
Satoshi Kon was also behind the art direction and like the story, it’s stunning. The fluid animation, cinematic techniques and overall attention-to-detail make Magnetic Rose a marvel of animation. Considering this came out over 20 years ago by the time I’m writing this, and still looks incredible. The scenes in space alone demonstrate how impressive the show is on a technical scale. Despite looking dated with its art style and not being vibrant or colourful, Magnetic Rose shows that there is more to animation than simple visual look. Meanwhile the sound was composed by Yoko Kanno and is mostly operatic, matching the setting and tone of the tragic story perfectly. Voice acting was great all around with Eva’s voice actress in particular being breathtaking in her role. Her version of “Madame Butterfly” is awe-inspiring, even if you dislike like opera, you will still probably appreciate the piece and the overall music in general with how it complements scenes so effectively. Magnetic Rose excels in so many ways that the only way I could see it have been better is if it were its own stand-alone movie. And on that note, I am very surprised this story has not even been rumoured at all for a potential Hollywood adaptation considering the high potential for a successful anime adaptation. It is the highlight of this anthology and is the part of Memories that you will strongly remember.
Here Memories transitions from haunting beauty to a dark comedy that uses satire to demonstrate how stupid humanity can be. The change of tone and pace can be seen immediately from the start, showing a rather overly cheerful television program with fitting music and colourful art compared to Magnetic Rose. Stink Bomb follows Nobuo Tanaka, a young lab technician of a hospital trying to cure his cold and when trying to find a new cold medicine under development, he takes the wrong pill; the ‘red pill’. But instead of finding enlightenment, this buffoon finding all his fellow employees dead and panicked, rushes to deliver the experimental drug he mistook for cold medication to headquarters in Tokyo. Unbeknownst to Nobuo, his mistake is the cause behind everyone in the hospital dying, with him now spreading death and destruction everywhere he goes without him even knowing. Because of this, Nobuo becomes a target of assassination and kidnapping by the government.
Most people find Stink Bomb easily the worst of the three entries, feeling like a 40-minute long dumb joke that wasn’t funny to begin with, however I feel as though Stink Bomb gets too much negative buzz than it deserves. It’s a light-hearted take on how foolish our species can be when in dire straits ala Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, ridiculing such in over-the-top comedic fashion. The idea that a lab technician is so unbelievably stupid is not something that I consider detrimental to the show; his density fits the kind of comedy the show is going for and is the perfect example for how one man can cause such disaster and trigger-happy militants can further the damage with both ease and lack of common sense. Even if you did not find the comedic style to your liking and I myself will admit that I did not find it that hilarious apart from some overexaggerated missiles, it is definitely an entertaining short that I never once found dull.
The animation is the weakest of the three, lacking the technical quality, art direction and sheer unique look of both Magnetic Rose and Cannon Fodder. It also looks the most dated, but still holds up enough to not lessen the experience and contains some of the most action-packed scenes with fluid animation to match. The music is arguably the best part of the short, composed of lively jazz expertly incorporated throughout and is surprisingly appropriate for Stink Bomb’s chaotic style of comedy. Both the animation and sound add to the story’s light-heartedness, and that’s exactly what Stink Bomb strived for. If you come into this looking for some sort of hidden meaning, you will be disappointed. Its intentions are purely to elicit a smile on your face, and for me, it succeeded.
Cannon Fodder is aesthetically the most intriguing of the three shorts, creating a world comparable to a communism dystopia filled with massively-oversized cannons that fire at an “enemy moving city” that is never visually confirmed by the show; clearly an allegory on society. Cannon Fodder is the most literal title this show could have had. Everyone’s life revolves about firing cannons; the men work the cannons, the women make the shells, and the children are taught on the mechanics of firing cannons. Cannon Fodder looks at the life of an average family on an average day in this bleak world. We see the father going through the motions as he loads cannons, only living to work, to the naïve child aspiring to someday be the man who fires these cannons. It’s a dreary 30 minutes that leaves you in a bleak state, having seen how bleak these characters’ lives are and that it won’t change.
Cannon Fodder is certainly not for every anime fan. It’s a short similar to artistic anime like Texhnolyze that are merciless in their depiction of a hopeless world. It’s also a highly political film, with its critique of militarism, socialism and propaganda very noticeable throughout the story. It’s shown the leader of the city is nothing more than a chubby man, yet is portrayed through portraits and such as a fit, powerful leader and worshipped by civilians. An interesting fact: none of the characters are ever given names, another result of living in this kind of world where cannons are valued more than the individuals that work on them. The premise and story of Cannon Fodder is simple and not subtle in the slightest, making it even more frustrating to some viewers. However, considering how political first-world countries have gotten in recent years, I feel like this short is worth the 30 minutes it takes to watch.
The artstyle for Cannon Fodder is ugly, no doubt about it, and it complements the dark, depressing vibe the world has. The palette of greys and browns gives the city a decaying, decrepit look that mirrors the people belonging to it. Steampunk elements blend into the city seamlessly, with cannons sticking out of every building present. The people themselves don’t even look human, with sickly grey skin and sunken eyes look more like they can straight out of a nightmare than anything resembling the kind of world we live in. From a technical perspective, the attention to detail is perhaps the best of the three shorts, but what really makes Cannon Fodder’s animation so great is Otomo’s direction. The entire short is one continuous sequence without a single cut. Can you recall an anime you’ve seen that has no cuts in its entirety? Otomo utilizes an array of cinematic techniques and transitions that blend in with the story and animated scenes so well that they may go unnoticed to the average viewer, and that is in my opinion the sign of a master of cinematography. Cannon Fodder is quite possibly one of the greatest one-takes in the history of cinema in general and like Akira, is a testament to Otomo’s ability as a director.
In conclusion, Memories is not your typical anthology series; it does not have any overarching narrative that ties the three entries together. But what Memories does contain is a unique collection of short stories that individually showcase some of best animation the industry had at the time and it still hold up. But saying that its value only resides in the animation undermines other great aspects of Cannon Fodder and Stink Bomb such as directing, atmosphere, themes, etc., and nearly everything about Magnetic Rose. None of these films should be ignored and are all worth the time it takes to experience each of these wonderful pieces of animation.
The first episode “Magnetic Rose”: I felt that it reflected the title pretty well- the theme definitely correlates to memories. This was probably the most impressive in terms of story and art- the only complaint is that this would’ve been ideal if it was turned into a full-length movie instead of being thrown into a 3 episode movie. But that’s just me. The story is basically about two space dudes from the future exploring the interior of what was once home of a famous opera singer of the century (our generation).
The second episode “Stink Bomb”: I’m not sure how it relates to the title at all. This was the most humorous and light-hearted of the three. It’s about a chemist who takes a pill right before he sleeps and then he wakes up with everyone around him dead- it sounds very dark and depressing but they managed to keep it surprisingly mellow somehow believe it or not. I enjoyed this one a lot as well.
The third and final episode “Cannon Fodder”: This felt a bit underwhelming in comparison to the first two, no offense. In terms of visuals this was probably the most unique- it’s very rough and gritty but it can be very charming. Its about something comparable to the Industrial Revolution and the war around the early 1900s. I always kind of waited to see the little boy the majority of the time as he felt to be the main character but sadly he doesn’t get as much screen time as i hope he would. The only thing that corresponds to memories is the little boy saluting a general from the past and he dreams of eventually becoming one instead of being a cannon launcher like his father.
Overall: It’s pretty good- but if i were you i’d watch it all in reverse (episode 3 first, episode 2 second then episode 1 last). It’d probably be more satisfying than if you did it in order. There isn’t a chronological order to it anyway it’s just three different movies with some connection ..with i guess the theme of memories tucked inside.
1: Mimi wo Sumaseba
English: Whisper of the Heart
MAL Score: 8.22
Shizuku Tsukishima is an energetic 14-year-old girl who enjoys reading and writing poetry in her free time. Glancing at the checkout cards of her books one evening, she notices that her library books are frequently checked out by a boy named Seiji Amasawa. Curiosity strikes Shizuku, and she decides to search for the boy who shares her love for literature.
Meeting a peculiar cat on the train, Shizuku follows the animal and is eventually led to a quaint antique shop, where she learns about a cat statuette known as “The Baron.” Taking an interest in the shop, she surprisingly finds Seiji, and the two quickly befriend one another. Shizuku learns while acquainting herself with Seiji that he has a dream that he would like to fulfill, causing her dismay as she remains uncertain of her future and has yet to recognize her talents.
However, as her relationship with Seiji grows, Shizuku becomes determined to work toward a goal. Guided by the whispers of her heart and inspiration from The Baron, she resolves to carve out her own potential and dreams.
Regarding this film in comparison to other films Miyazaki has been a part of, this one seems to by far have the fewest fantastic elements (that is, elements which contain impossible occurrences or imaginary creatures). If I could compare it to any other Miyazaki film, I would say that it is most like My Neighbor Totoro, in that they both focus on the more or less ordinary lives of their characters, rather than large, sweeping plots. It is something that needs to be watched with a mind set that is not waiting for something to move forward, or endanger the characters lives, or otherwise throw them into an absurd situation. Everything that happens in the plot is very believable, yet has its own magic about it because of the playful way it is presented.
One thing that was especially impressive about this film, although most Miyazaki films carry this trait, was the accuracy of the child psychology (and psychology in general). When you watch the characters of this film interact with each other, and when you see things happen to them and how it affects them, you get a feeling of profound truth. This film is dramatic, but it was not cinema dramatic, it was true dramatic. If a character is sad, that doesn’t become their entire personality, it is something that affects their personality. The reason I ramble so long about this is because of how rare it is to see in any medium of art. It is something that if you are looking for it, it is truly beautiful and astounding. This quality of work is not easily imitated.
If you ask me why I rate the art a “9” I will tell it is because of its expressiveness. The landscapes are beautiful, sure, but the real reason I give it a 9 is because of the work put into the animations of every character. There is nothing lazy about it, and there is a uniqueness to the characters movements that takes serious attention. Most films will cut corners in this department, but even though you could call this movie’s art dated, that doesn’t decrease the pleasure gained from its attentiveness.
Still, I will hesitate to recommend this to everyone. If you want a plot that ‘actually goes somewhere,’ so to speak, this film will not give that to you. If you want a film with a tonne of weird and unbelievable things (such as you may be used to with Miyazaki), this film will also not deliver that. What this film delivers is a very detailed picture of its characters which is at times heart warming, at other times heart breaking, and at all times true.
True to form as a Ghibli production, this film complements its character driven narrative with a slew of wall-paper worthy long shots and vibrant animation schemes which I have yet to see that often even in more recent large scale production anime ( there are several such scenes in the latter half of the film, but no spoilers here of course!). Not much else to say here, I recommend you watch the film and see for yourself.
Sound quality in the film was solid throughout. But what really won me over was the Japanese rendition of Jon Denver’s country road. Not only was it an impressive rendition by itself, it was incredibly appropriate for the small town slice-of-life feel that the creators seemed to be going for. Even after hearing it on replay throughout the film, I did not tire of that song, which in my opinion, speaks volumes for how fitting the song was for the film’s overall atmosphere. Sadly, the other background music did go relatively unnoticed, but upon re-watching the movie and listening to the original soundtrack again, the rest of the background music was quite good as well.
When we think of studio Ghbli we often times think of Hayao Miyazaki and sometimes Isao Takahata. In the case of Whisper of the heart, we have a tale with all the flavor and style reminiscent of these Ghibli greats, and yet was directed by neither Miyazaki nor Takahata but instead by a man named Yoshifumi Kondō, whose life was cut tragically short after the release of his 1st and only film. A darn shame too, because at the time he was considered a legitimate candidate to succeed Miyazaki as head of the studio.
As a film that seems almost forgotten among the plethora of excellent productions from studio Ghibli, Whisper of the Heart is a much watch as an entry level anime for people just getting into the medium and as a deeper exploration into the world of anime film for seasoned veterans out there. In addition, as with all Ghibli films, Whisper of the Heart feels like it was made with a general audience in mind, so you needn’t be a fan of slice-of-life to enjoy watching it.
Even if you end up not liking this film I hope you found my review helpful. Of course I am always looking to improve, so feedback is always appreciated.
Just leave a message on my profile thread if you have any comments, criticisms, or just wanna talk about anime!!
Working on the themes of adolescence and infatuation giving rise to a wonderful journey of self discovery, Studio Ghibli presents us with Mimi wo Sumaseba also commonly known as Whisper of the Heart. The story mainly revolves around the female lead, Shizuku Tsukishima, a junior high school girl living in New Tama Town. The story progresses as Shizuku constantly finds a certain someone, named Seiji Awasama, always issuing books before she does at her town library, which leads her to grow a sense of respect while her imagination weaves together a personality of Seiji as one could only describe as the “Prince Charming of her life.” Much to her disappointment, Seiji is any thing but the “prince charming” she had imagined him to be; but Seiji had a unique charm of his own. One thing led to another and soon, Shizuku starts facing typical teenage life problem ranging from the urge to rebel against her parent’s wishes, unnecessarily squabbling with her siblings, while also realising she has fallen in love with the “not-the-prince-charming-she-had-imagined”, Seiji. Hereby follows a movie about self discovery, presented in the most heartwarming way possible.
Now it may seem like any other teenage-romance on pen and paper, but Whisper of the Heart, has its own charm, specially due to the way it presents itself. The problem with most romance shows now a days is that they tend to be extremely dull or overly melodramatic and their predictable plot structure doesn’t help them much either. While being melodramatic, most also tend to be highly unrealistic with their character interactions, their behaviour, body language and much more which just brings their over all quality down. Whisper of the heart, throws all these out of the window and carves its path through this genre in a rather realistic and dramatic way, without crossing the dreaded line between the dramatic and the melodramatic. Character interactions are seamless and seem as realistic as it can get for a story of such sorts. Characters behave as a mere reflection of any other ordinary teenager, as they would to the shown circumstances and these strokes of realism are even more integrated into the movie with the help of detailed, subtle body language of the the characters through which many emotions are shown, rather than told through mere dialogue exchange.
The characters themselves are rather eccentric even though they are fairly ordinary people. The female lead, Shizuka, is a rather charming and adorable girl. Her relation with her family and her friends is well portrayed through meaningful dialogue. Her monologues of what she thinks about her sister, mother, her best friends and her general view of the situations she faces helps build up her base character along with her relationship with the side characters in a gradual and methodical way. The development that Shizuka goes through the movie, simply put, is phenomenal. From a naive junior high student, who didn’t know what she wanted to do with her talent, and on the bigger scale, with her life; Shizuka realises her field of interest and recognises her talents. Her love for writing also explores her vivid and colourful imagination. She comes to realise the importance of family and meeting up with family expectations, while chasing her individual dream too, but the main motivation behind most of her development is her love interest, Seiji.
Seiji is quite the character himself. He is shown as an ordinary boy, working at his grandfather’s small antique shop, while learning both, to build and play the violin. The development between Seiji and Shizuko’s romantic relationship, albeit a bit cheesy, was handled with great care. While Seiji doesn’t receive as much development as Shizuko on screen, most of his character development is rather implied. While maintaining Seiji’s lively manner, we see a sense of responsibility grow in him which we naturally see in most teens as they go through their phase of adolescence. His growth in sense of responsibility is established through his interactions with Shizuko, specially, the conversation they have on the school rooftop where they realise they have to work their way so that they could live and spend more time together in the future.All these character interactions which lead to their subtle development, was neatly woven together by the skilful hands of the director, Yoshifumi Kondou, who is known for his works in various other critically acclaimed works such as Omoide Poroporo and Akage no Anne as an animation director.
Studio Ghibli has always been known for sending the audience into another magical dimension with their various works, but sometimes, due to the lack of proper direction, the whole magical element backfires, and in the end, the movie tends to become a mess. Thankfully, Whisper of the Heart, is not one of these movies! Even though the movie is highly realistic at its core, Studio Ghibli didn’t stop from adding their key fantasy elements into the movie. And with the efficient direction, these were used to enhance the whole experience of the viewer. Shizuka’s main writing work is dynamically shown, rather than being simply narrated. These scenes range from talking rabbits wearing monocles to riding an air stream to an unknown mysterious castle. All these fantasy elements are integrated into the movie with great caress without leaving deep scars on the strokes of realism, the movie portrays.
The animation delivered by Studio Ghibli, as usual, is fantastic. Great detail is maintained in almost every frame and the movement of characters and the general motion is as fluid as it can get. The landscape scenes are pretty eye candy and the movie is completely devoid of any ugly CGI. There are some great camera angles used when necessary, sometime to show the overarching city while some soothing music plays to evoke a strange feeling of nostalgia. The artistic direction of the movie takes credits when the fantasy world is involved, as the colour palette becomes much more vibrant and animation becomes subtly smoother and camera angles range from the typical to experimental ones where Shizuka is shown riding the winds to the castle.
Along with the magical animation, the movie imbues a deep sense of nostalgia with its musical direction. The movie begins with Olivia Newton John’s cover of the famous song, Country Road, which itself evokes a warm fuzzy feeling in the viewer, making them feel right at home. Other than that particular cover of John Dever’s, country road, a japanese rendition is sung many times in the movie and their placement couldn’t have been more correct which added to the overall atmosphere of the film, whenever they were used. A personal favourite would be when Seiji plays the violin and Shizuka sings along and the elders join in with various other instruments, to create one of the most joyous and heart warming scenes in anime for me personally, but one could feel free to disagree, I guess. Other soundtracks just add to the magic of the film and its overarching, heartwarming atmosphere. To weave such a fantastic atmosphere, and evoke feelings of nostalgia with the music alone, credits must be given to the “music director”, Yuuiji Nomi who is also known for his quirky OST’s in Nichijou.
With all that said and done, I must conclude by saying that Whisper of the Heart is a wonderful coming of age film; and a journey of self discovery. This film has something for everybody to enjoy, whether it be seeing yourself as a teenager grow up in the movie, facing similar problems or for parents, who could see how to co-operate with their child when they’re in their rebellious phase of life and let them freely chase their dreams. The fantastic musical score coupled with the fluid animation has the right balance of drama imbibed into it. It may appear to some as a typical animated work at first glance but once the experience is over, many will quickly realise that Whisper of the Heart is anything but typical.
And yeah, Country Roads, will never be the same again, for me at least.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Mimi wo Sumaseba
3. Slam Dunk: Hoero Basketman-damashii! Hanamichi to Rukawa no Atsuki Natsu
4. Slam Dunk: Shouhoku Saidai no Kiki! Moero Sakuragi Hanamichi
5. Gotou ni Naritai.