Whisper of the Heart (耳をすませば, Mimi o Sumaseba, lit. "If you listen closely") is a 1995 Japanese animated drama film based on the manga of the same name by Aoi Hiiragi. It was directed by Yoshifumi Kondō and written by Hayao Miyazaki. It was the first theatrical Studio Ghibli feature to be directed by someone other than Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, and the only film to be directed by Yoshifumi Kondō, who died in 1998 of a ruptured aneurysm at the age of 47. Studio Ghibli had hoped that Kondō would become the successor to Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Schoolgirl Shizuku Tsukishima lives in Tokyo, Japan with her parents Asako and Seiya. She is a bookworm and is keen on writing. One evening, she looks through the checkout cards in her library books. She notices they have all been checked out by the same person - someone named Seiji Amasawa. Over the next few days, Shizuku encounters a tall, annoying boy. Shizuku finds a cat riding a train and follows it, discovering an antique shop run by Shiro Nishi. At the shop is a cat statuette, "The Baron." The tall boy is the grandson of Nishi.
One of Studio Ghibli’s strangest productions has to be this, Whisper of the Heart. Not because of any crazy morphing creatures — though the film has a few of those — but because of its subject matter. Here’s a movie about teen romance, set largely in a library. There are no rakish adventurers, no ghosts, no forest creatures. Just a boy and a girl and only one magical cat to speak of. The film is generally charming, though its love story is strange to the point of inaccesibility: A girl who writes alternate lyrics to ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’? Whoa, now that’s weird.
Aka Mimi wo sumaseba.