An Ever­green Tale of Young Love

Animation Magazine - - Anime -

rysm at age 47, shortly af­ter com­plet­ing the film. It’s clear an­i­ma­tion lost an im­por­tant tal­ent who would have gone on to do in­ter­est­ing work. Kondo brought Miyazaki’s sto­ry­boards to life, in­fus­ing ev­ery­day mo­ments with the emo­tional in­ten­sity of ado­les­cence. When class­mate Sugimura (Martin Span­jers) con­fesses to Shizuku that he’s had a crush on her for a long time, she in­sists that can’t pos­si­bly be true. And it doesn’t mat­ter what ei­ther of them feels: Yuko (Ash­ley Tis­dale) has a crush on Sugimura, and Yuko is Shizuku’s best friend. Flus­tered by this line of ar­gu­ment, Sugimura replies an­grily, “I don’t speak girl code!”

In his pro­posal, Miyazaki also wrote, “It’s easy to cyn­i­cally de­clare that whole­some­ness is a frag­ile con­cept, only pos­si­ble if pro­tected by oth­ers, or that true love can never oc­cur in this era with­out se­ri­ous chal­lenges. Even if so, it seems to me that it also ought to be pos­si­ble to ex­press — in an even stronger, over­whelm­ingly pow­er­ful way — how won­der­ful the qual­ity of whole­some­ness is.” Af­ter the plethora of sar­cas­tic wise­cracks and poop, fart and belch jokes in re­cent Amer­i­can fea­tures, the whole­some­ness of Whis­per of the Heart pro­vides a wel­come change in tone.

The film con­cludes with one of the most de­light­ful and un­der­stated credit crawls in re­cent mem­ory. As a young cho­rus sings “Take Me Home, Coun­try Road” in Ja­panese, the au­di­ences sees an or­di­nary street in the Tama Hills. Amid the shop­pers and chil­dren and dog walk­ers, Shizuku and Seiji go by on his bi­cy­cle; Moon, the chubby cat, trots along on some un­known er­rand — and Yuko meets up with Sugimura af­ter a base­ball game. “Say­onara, Coun­try Road.”

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