Whisper of the Heart


Disney just released its English dub of Studio Ghibli’s Whisper of the Heart, originally released in Japan in 1995. I’ve got to say, the Blu Ray transfer is excellent. If it weren’t for the appearance of old laptops and lack of widely-used internet in the movie, you’d think it had just been made recently. While I can easily criticize Studio Ghibli for constantly reusing the same characters, designs, stories and facial expressions, I simply can’t for this one. I mean, when can you ever?

The story has the typical Ghibli feel to it. A young girl experiencing a world that’s new to her and falls in love with that tall kid with ambiguously blue hair. Many who have only seen Ghibli’s more popular titles like Spirited Away or Howl’s Moving Castle, may think that the Studio’s charm lies in its portrayal of the fantastic. But seeing as this movie takes place completely in the real world and still carries all the charm of it’s best titles (this is probably my favorite now) it seems to be just the opposite: Studio Ghibli has a remarkable ability to take the mundane and make it fantastical.

It finds charm and excitement in simple moments. Its beauty is truly in its simplicity. For such a simple and intimate movie, I was surprised at the epic feel of it. Perhaps because it deals with things that touch on the meaning of life: our purpose in this world, though in the most un-preachy way. The main character Shizuku struggles with feelings of inadequacy. She doesn’t know what to do with her life, where to go next or how to move forward. It’s something all of us, not the least of which, myself, struggle with.

I really loved this movie. Some may find it drags a bit, but I was hooked from the beginning. The opening sequence is quite beautiful. Actually, it’s beautiful from beginning to end. Just as good as Spirited Away or The Secret World of Arriety, if not better. Again, I must say, the utter sincerity of these movies is incredibly refreshing. I felt, in a way purified after watching this. It may sound strange, but this just reminds me of how powerful the medium of movies and animation is. So much of our subconscious, our feelings, our habits, our words, choice of friends and overall culture is highly influence by what we see when we turn on the screen, for good or ill. Again, more than ever, I feel the call towards a career in animation.

Artist Statement

The way to convey reality through gesture, contour and model rendering is to “follow the story of the light” (something one of my life drawing teachers would always say). This is the essence of drawing reality: understanding the nature of light and dark, movement, and proportion. While this might sound like strict defense for realism, I am in fact using it to defend more. Cameras are machines that capture the light for you. But I believe that stylization, in its many forms, takes this many steps further. Capturing only the light that is visible to the eye only tells one story. But stylization is essential to telling a different story: a more engaging one. Stylization eliminates non-essential visuals to promote and enhance aspects of a story or character that cannot be conveyed simply through photographic imagery.
 

I can take a picture of someone smiling, but it certainly doesn’t capture all the moods and feelings of the moment. But I can draw a caricature of him that exaggerates his smile. A few simple lines and bam! I have successfully captured the moment more accurately than a camera.

This is why I want to work in animation. I have experience in painting and drawing, and if a picture tells a thousand words, a moving picture must tell a thousand per frame. Like stylization is to realism, animation is to live action film. I have experience in drawing for most of my life, and began oil painting in college. To me, the mediums were never powerful enough, as my inspiration always came from the motion and progression of story that is found in animation. Animation can convey moods, feelings, emotions, thoughts, etc. that are difficult, if not sometimes impossible to fully convey in live action. Stylization and stylized animation also convey a unique visual aesthetic that would otherwise never been seen in this present reality.


“Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” — C.S. Lewis
The characters of Phineas and Ferb vs. their sister Candace are great examples of this. Who doesn’t wanna be like Phineas and Ferb? How awesome would it be to wake up every day and say, “I know what we’re gonna do today!” and then proceed to have the best day ever? 

The Truth is my ultimate standard for what I do. My work hinges on iconic imagery; the kind which the viewer always knows when he sees it. These archetypes are recognizable to those who are unfamiliar with it. While this sounds like an oxymoron, it is true that many have had the experience of seeing an image that makes them feel like they’ve known in their whole lives. This can be experienced in a painting, a movie, a book, television show, song, or anything that is art. Like Plato’s allegory of the caves, it is the reality behind the shadows. My ultimate goal is to bring out the Truth that is the story of the Light of Men.

Phineas and Ferb Creators Rap About Animatin’! WUT!

One of my all-time favorites: Phineas and Ferb. Dan Povenmire and Swampy Marsh do an awesome and hilarious rap about the life of an animator. It’s even more awesome for me since I’m an animation student, and I’m taking storyboarding right now. I’m really excited about the projects we get to work on in the class! It seems shows that are written in storyboard tend to be funnier. It goes all the way back to the Looney Tunes days, but I haven’t quite figured out exactly why that is. I guess because comedy is so reliant on the visual, especially in animation, it’s just better when it’s visualized fully while it’s being written. So there’s no gap between the vision of the writer and the artist.

BTW, ever notice the city of Danville is named after Dan Povenmire?

Here’s another video on the Master Class they did. I love what they did here. I work at an after-school program teaching art, and I’ve been experimenting teaching my kids some of the processes of animation.