The actual title is If You Listen Closely (Mimi Wo Sumaseba). Shizuku is a young teenage girl out of school for summer vacation and she checks out a lot of books from the library. She begins to notice another person is checking out many of the same books. She wonders who this could be? One day she is riding on the train and she sees a cat riding by himself? She decides to follow the cat to see where he lives and also to have an adventure. She discovers a different part of town she hasn’t seen before and she meets Seiji. He is an older boy who is learning to carve violins and he wants to go to Italy to study this craft. Shizuku is impressed that he already knows what he wants to do with his life. She feels behind because she is trying to discover her own talents.
There is a LOT of feeling in the animation of this film. We experience Shizuku’s life living in a cramped apartment and the stresses of the first day of school after summer vacation. Shizuku also experiences the angst of first love and worrying about her future. What is she good at doing and what does she like? What will she do with her life? 3 ½* (I liked this movie)
111 min, Animation directed by Yoshifumi Kondo with the voices of Cary Elwes, Brittany Snow, Ashley Tisdale, David Gallagher, James Sikking, Jean Smart, Harold Gould, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Martin Spanjers, Mika Boorem, Abigail Mavity, Deanna Russo.
Note: Imdb 8.0 out of 10, 91% critic 90% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.8* out of 5* with 375 reviews.
Special Note: This is the only film directed by Yoshifumi Kondo. Studio Ghibli hoped he would become the successor to Hayao Miyazaki and Takashi Tachibana. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1998. The Cat Returns released in 2002 focuses on the Baron, a minor character from this film. There is a scene in this movie of a billboard advertising this movie.