Whisper of the Heart (Mimi Wo Sumaseba) (Studio Ghibli Collection) (1995)

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Released 15-Mar-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Multiple Angles-Storyboards
Gallery-Background Artwork From "The Baron's Story"
Trailer-Howl's Moving Castle
Trailer-The Studio Ghibli Collection
Reversible Cover
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 106:18 (Case: 111)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Yoshifumi Kondo
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Youko Honna
Kazuo Takahashi
Takashi Tachibana
Shigeru Muroi
Shigeru Tsuyuguchi
Keiju Kobayashi
Cary Elwes
Brittany Snow
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Yuji Nomi


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, some brand names but nothing too obtrusive.
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Studio Ghibli's Whisper Of The Heart is an endearing coming-of-age drama based on a Manga by Aoi Hiiragi. While the final film was directed by Yoshifumi Kondo, the film's screenplay and storyboards were actually developed by Spirited Away director Hayao Miyazaki. Besides being an excellent animated film in its own right, Whisper Of The Heart introduced the characters of Muta and The Baron, which were developed further in Ghibli's 2002 production The Cat Returns.

    Shizuku is your typical teenage student who shares her bedroom with her older sister. When she isn't studying, Shizuku visits the library and finds herself completely immersed in reading Fairy Tales. Her passion for these fables soon spills over into her real life as she longs to find some kind of parallel to make her existence more interesting. She begins to notice a name that regularly appears in the library cards of the books she reads and discovers that the name belongs to Seiji, a local boy with aspirations to be a violin craftsman. He's not particularly confident in his work, but just as the two are beginning to form a relationship Seiji leaves for Italy to apply himself to his craft and discover if he has a talent that is worth pursuing. Shizuku is duly inspired by his guts and decides to give writing a try, working day and night during his absence on her debut novel. How will their newfound inspiration affect their relationship?

    Whisper Of The Heart explores the importance of discipline and dedication to your work, and at the same time encourages viewers to be prepared for some failures in life. Despite their age, Shizuku and Seiji are focused on their career goal and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to get there. While the premise may sound a little clichéd, the subject is delivered tastefully and there are messages here that would prove invaluable to many young adults who are struggling with such decisions in life.

    As far as the marvellous output of  Studio Ghibli is concerned, Whisper Of The Heart marked a number of firsts. This was their first feature to be released theatrically with a 5.1 surround mix. It was also the first and only film as director for Yoshifumi Kondo, who was being groomed as the future torchbearer for the animation studio until his untimely passing in 1998. The style of animation presented here is a little different in comparison to your average Ghibli film, particularly the colourful background art and scenes set in the antique shop, but rest assured this film is well within their fantastic standard.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    I hope you're sitting down, because this news is really shocking. We have a bona-fide PAL video transfer! I couldn't believe it at first, but it's true. It would seem Madman couldn't believe it either, because the cover slick mistakenly lists the NTSC runtime.

    The transfer is presented in the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, complete with 16x9 enhancement. As with the other Studio Ghibli titles, there is a thick black border surrounding the image. Viewers with CRT displays are unlikely to be aware of this due to overscan, however projector jockeys like myself will find it a bit of a nuisance.

    This is a great transfer, sharp, smooth and clear with beautiful, bright colours. The level of fine detail is adequate and I didn't notice any ugly, jagged edges at all.

    Unfortunately, it would appear an undue amount of MPEG compression has been applied in order to squeeze the feature and the alternate angle of storyboard art onto a single disc. In other regions, the storyboard feature was placed on a separate disc. During busy street scenes with lots of motion, MPEG grain is visible and the level of detail drops as a result. Any large expanses of a single colour show obvious noise and MPEG grain. Clearly the video bitrate is simply not broad enough to render this kind of animation adequately. I also noticed a few tiny film artefacts, usually mere specks of dust and dirt.

    Two English subtitle streams are included, one of which is for the hard of hearing. The font is yellow with a thin black outline and is very easy to read. I didn't notice any spelling or grammatical errors at all.

    This disc is dual layered (DVD9 formatted), however I was unable to detect any layer transition. It's possible there could be one angle on each layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are two soundtracks to choose from. The default soundtrack is an English dub, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kb/s). The film's original Japanese soundtrack is also included, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kb/s).

    The dialogue in both soundtracks is very clear and easy to discern. Neither of the soundtracks seemed to have any glaring lip-sync issues.

    The surround channels are utilised for subtle atmospherics most of the time, as well as some elements of the score such as strings and piano. Character voices are generally confined to the front soundstage.

    I found the Japanese soundtrack to be slightly louder than the English option. Aside from this slight difference in output level, these soundtracks exhibited the same depth and brightness.

    An integral part of the film's plot happens to revolve around the song Take Me Home, Country Roads, which is represented in two treatments; first from Olivia Newton-John and later from Yoko Honna, who voices Shizuku in the Japanese soundtrack. The score itself is contributed by Yuji Nomi and has a very modern feel with a beautifully broad range of instrumentation.

    The subwoofer didn't seem to gain much attention aside from the score and a few simple dedicated effects. After all, this is a rather dialogue-heavy drama, so there isn't a lot of call for thumping bass.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu pages are 16x9 enhanced and the main page is animated with the same scene as the film's closing credits.

Trailers (10:41)

    A reel of assorted trailers and promo spots for the film. The quality varies a bit and the content is highly repetitive. This is presented in 1.33:1, with an English subtitle stream activated by default.

Alternate Viewing Angle-Storyboard Art

    The entire film can be viewed in storyboard form, comprised of pencil drawings by Hayao Miyazaki. There is a little colour here and there, but I found it rather monotonous after a while. Other regions have included this feature on a separate disc, but the quality of our feature transfer has been sacrificed to fit it onto a single disc. Just a few key scenes would have been enough in my opinion. This angle is 16x9 enhanced, like the feature itself.

Featurette- Background Art (4:40)

    This short featurette shows some of the superb background art from the film, specifically the scenes that involve the Baron character. Some nice musical accompaniment is included, taken from the score by Yuji Nomi. This is presented in 1.33:1, full frame.

Madman Trailers

    Trailers are included for the brilliant Howl's Moving Castle (1:38), and Madman's Studio Ghibli Collection (11:46). Neither are 16x9 enhanced.

Reversible Cover Slick

    Alternative cover art, without those unsightly ratings logos.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 two-disc version includes the obligatory Behind The Microphone featurette covering the English voice cast and has the storyboard feature on a separate disc.

    The Region 2 NTSC release is also spread over 2 discs and includes Japanese trailers and an additional Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. There is no English soundtrack present, but English subtitles are optional.

    Our local product is good, but I would be inclined to prefer a region with less video compression. If you require an English language soundtrack, the Region 1 might be the way to go.

Summary

    Whisper Of The Heart is another fantastic animated film from Studio Ghibli, with messages that will prove invaluable to many young adults.

    The video transfer appears over-compressed, but is acceptable.

    The audio transfer is good.

    The extras are a bit tedious.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Monday, April 10, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Madman slowly learning their lesson - JLCK REPLY POSTED
Re: Alternate storyboard angle - Neil