Country roads take me home to the place where I belong.

Posted on March 12th, 2006

Filed under: Reviews — Karl Olson @ 3:12 am

So, I recently acquired the latest wave of Ghibli films on DVD, namely My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle and Whisper of the Heart. Howl I caught in the theater, so I’m not hot to watch it right away, but I did watch Totoro and Whisper saturday night. Totoro was quite a fun family film, and undoubtly the best film to introduce kids to Ghibli (and animation in general even,) but it’s definitely an upbeat, straightforward family picture.

Whisper, on the other hand, really connected with me in ways I’m not even sure I can properly describe. The characters in that film, particularly Shizuku and Seiji, resonate really solidly with me. I can completely understand the mindset that drives them, that holds them back, that gives pause to doubt themselves, that makes cry and that makes them smile. This is not only as a creative person striving to hone craft like the characters I mentioned, but also as a person who has been through that feeling of having to better oneself for the sake of another. Further still, the musical elements of the film hit me on multiple levels, and the advice Nishi gave to Shizuka hit me in the same way. The overall ability of the film to wordlessly capture both mono no aware (the pathos of things) and the genuine connections that can form between human beings was simply stunning. Unless Only Yesterday manages to ring even more exactingly with me, Whisper of the Heart is probably my favorite Ghibli film ever.

“Country Road, tomorrow, I’ll be the same, you know
I want to go home but I can’t, farewell, Country Road.”
-from the Japanese lyrics of Country Road.

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