The animated films from Studio Ghibli are easily the finest expressions of that art form around today. "Whisper of the Heart" is a simple, uncomplicated story of a 14 year old schoolgirl as she approaches adulthood. It is set in a contemporary Tokyo which is drawn so clearly it could almost have been photographed.
Shizuku is in her last year at junior high school and loves literature. She is clearly intelligent, but lacks direction and ambition. A chance encounter with a cat on a train leads her to a friendship with Seiji and a re-evaluation of the way her life is developing.
The story is not so much plot driven as character driven. There is no violence or aggression. There is no intergeneration conflict. In the school scenes there is a welcome absence of "competitive jock" and "prom queen" elements which seem to permeate American films.
Although this film is about a teenage girl, it is not a teenage film, but a real family film which can be enjoyed on many levels. Technically, this is "reality animation" which is as good as it gets. It is heartwarming, it has humour, it has insight.