Whisper of the Heart: Can You Hear Them?


Photo Courtesy of: IMDb

The film’s colorful and eye-catching movie poster attracts all audiences

Mikayla Maluyo, Journalist

Whisper of the Heart is a film from the year 1995 and was produced by Studio Ghibli. Its genre is that of adventure and coming-of-age. This film, though, is being used on campus as a way for Japanese students to pick up new words. Watching this film is actually a part of a larger process in the years of learning the language utilized by Mr. Bertsch, the Japanese language teacher. 

“We watch four or five different videos over the course of four years… [hoping] our vocabulary gets better each year,” Mr. Bertsch explains. “[In short] we… do an ongoing assessment of how the students are progressing [in] how well they can listen and understand the lesson.”

[Each film] is interesting. All of them are family-oriented and good to learn from.

— Mr. Bertsch

During the film, students are expected to write down words that they are aware of. Their awareness does not necessarily have to be from lessons in class and they are highly encouraged to record words that they know from personal experiences. The goal of the assignment is to get used to hearing the casual tenses of the Japanese language whilst being able to pick up on words that sound familiar. 

The movie itself is thoroughly enjoyed by the students as it captures this childlike innocence yet familiarity that most are connected to. Undertones of the movie are warm and soft while its themes are easy to understand. Its simplicity allows for the students to truly focus on the language being used without a complex storyline that overshadows the importance of listening. 

High school entrance exams are nearing for the young girl throughout the film (Photo Courtesy of: Google Images)

“It uses a lot more sentences because it is more about daily life,” Naomi Cuff, a sophomore in Japanese II, says. “[Because of that], we can use it to find more words we have learned or are learning and listen to repetition to possibly find out what other words mean.”

The plot of the film focuses on a young girl that is always absorbed in books and going to the library. She then comes to the realization that the books she has been reading all seem to have been read by a boy before her. This piques her interest and she begins her adventure with the help of a cat. 

Through mischief, the cat guides the young girl to the adventure she has only ever imagined in stories (Photo Courtesy of: Google Images)

With these themes, the classroom feels welcoming. All students are focused on the film because they attempt to listen in on words they understand. Because of that connection throughout the classroom, each one is engaged and their full potential as Japanese language students shines. 

“I think it helps the classroom in that other students can also practice their listening skills, as being able to hear Japanese is a key part of learning it,” Sophia Gatti, a sophomore Japanese II student, comments.