“The Place I Belong” – Whisper of the Heart (anime) – 10/10 Black Cats


We grow neither better nor worse as we get old, but more like ourselves ~May Lamberton Becker quotes

Genre: Slice-of-Life/Romance

Review Status: Complete (1 Movie/1 Movie)

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in the US.

Art/Animation: Lovely. The animation is very smooth, background characters and objects move, and while the art is the typical Ghibli style, it remains as lovely and bright as anything.

Dub Vs. Sub: Both the dub and the sub are fantastic! You can’t go wrong with either.

Summary: During summer vacation, a schoolgirl named Shizuku, who longs to discover her true talents, observes and ordinary-looking cat riding by himself on the train. Intrigued, she decides to follow him. This cance encounter leads her to the mysterious Seiji, a boy who is determined to follow his dreams, and The Baron, a magical cat figurine who helps her listen to the whispers in her heart. Soon, Shizuku’s exciting adventures carry her far beyond the boundaries of her imagination. (back of DVD cover).

Review
: This is by far and large the most down-to-earth of all Ghibli’s films to date (barring having seen On Top Of Poppy Hill, which may be the exception). Normally these are filled with magical worlds, wondrous creatures, and incredible adventures. This has an adventure and the magic of everyday life- the random chance encounters that can lead to happiness that we never even dreamed of.
Taking its cues from the country song “Country Roads” by John Denver, Shizuku discovers that taking a route that she’d never been on before leads her to an unusual antiques shop, with a strange doll that instantly captures her attention and imagination. A boy that had first gotten her attention simply by having his name on all the library cards is there, and their friendship and feelings grow for one another.

How it all happens feels so natural and believable- like whoever wrote this story knew someone that it happened to. It retains a vaguely fairytale-esque feel to it, with everything falling into place and finding a ‘prince’, though he rides a bike instead of a horse! It mirrors Shizuku’s determination to write a story herself, a fantasy story that has to do with the doll that got her attention in the first place. Nothing is truly out of place. The characters feel like they are actual people. The relationship between Shizuku and her parents, to Shizuku’s older (bossy and somewhat oblivious) sister, they feel like a real family. The old shopkeeper is entirely endearing. And the love that blossoms between her and Seiji seems genuine.

It manages to mix the love story thoroughly with the idea of following one’s dreams. Seiji has had dreams from the beginning, and knows exactly what he wants to do. He inspires and drives Shizuku to find her own. She becomes obsessed with it, to the frustration of her family, but with a little negotiation and true-to-life discussion, Shizuku is given the freedom to pursue her ambition. The one flaw I do find in the film is how they both decide to continue to high school after being decently successful with their respective endeavors- it seems like the natural course after this would be to continue on as they were. Even so, they have no plans for abandoning their dreams, but merely refining them until they’ve graduated. As her older sister says a few times during the movie, education is important!

Overall, this was a beautiful love story and a great film/

Recommended: 5+. There’s no language, the only nudity is a non-sexual scene where Shizuku’s older sister is taking off her top to put in the laundry, and the only violence is where, in a dream, Shizuku pulls a stone from the ground and it turns into a dead duckling.

Other titles you might enjoy:
The Cat Returns (anime)
Kimi ni Todoke (anime and manga)
Spirited Away (anime)
Ocean Waves (anime)
Emma: A Victorian Romance (manga and anime)
Only Yesterday (anime)
Kiki’s Delivery Service (anime)

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Hope_In_Song
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 01:44:30

    The first time we've reviewed the same item and gave it the same score!! XD!!! I LOVED this movie and it was so inspiring to me as an aspiring artist myself. And the art in here is GORGEOUS! I also love how squeaky-clean it was. A perfect family film, I say!

    Reply

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