Why Girls’ Manga Now? — The Aim of This Film —
As the chaotic image of the 21st century becomes clearer, the social structure of Japan is creaking and starting to sway. We are definitely entering a period of change where yesterday’s common knowledge and theories are rapidly losing their power. Although young people have not yet been directly exposed to these waves due to past material accumulations, the omens have certainly reached them.
In such times, what kind of films should we aim to create?
To return to the essence of living.
To confirm our starting points.
Even as trends continue to evolve rapidly, we must resist getting swept up in them.
We should boldly make a movie that focuses more on looking into the distance.
This film doesn’t aim to appeal to young audiences by understanding their current situations and concerns. It doesn’t flaunt questions or issues about the contemporary circumstances young people find themselves in.
This film is a poignant message from elder men reflecting on their past, directed at the youth. It aims to reignite the passion in viewers who often sideline themselves from their own narratives, emphasizing the importance of dreams and aspirations.
The recurring theme in Chaplin’s works, where an interaction with the opposite gender uplifts one’s spirit, is vividly revisited in this film with the aim of recreating that magical experience.
The original work by Aoi Hiiragi is nothing more than a typical love story from an ordinary girls’ manga. In this world, nothing stands in the way of the two protagonists. There are no misunderstandings, regulations, distortions, or setbacks. The story is about a girl dreaming of her yet-to-begin tale. Just like today’s girls’ manga, the original work emphasizes mutual feelings, and nothing dramatic happens. The two confirm their love for each other, but nothing more unfolds. Girls’ manga often ends there, which is why it has garnered support.
The male protagonist, the girl’s counterpart, dreams of being an illustrator and draws illustrations. This is typical of girls’ manga; he is not someone pursuing intense and pressing art. The girl, dreaming of becoming a storyteller, writes fairy tales of unknown origin, and like the boy, she’s shielded from any harm.
So, why propose to make “Whisper of the Heart” into a film?
No matter how hard older men might argue about the vulnerability and unrealistic dreams presented in the original work, one cannot deny the genuineness of the pure, straightforward depiction of longing for an encounter and pure admiration as vital truths of youth.
It’s easy to sarcastically point out that true love can’t exist in an age without obstacles or that fragility under protection isn’t resilience. Can’t we express the beauty of being hearty with an even more overwhelming force?
A vigor powerful enough to knock out reality… Could “Whisper of the Heart” become the core of such an endeavor?
What if that boy had aspired to be a craftsman? If he had decided to go to Cremona, Italy, after graduating from junior high school and enroll in a violin-making school there, what would have become of this story?
In fact, the idea of turning “Whisper of the Heart” into a film started entirely from this premise.
A boy who loves woodworking. A boy who plays the violin himself. If the attic of the antique dealer father in the original work was changed to a basement workshop, and if the grandfather had taken up the hobby of repairing old furniture and art pieces and enjoyed playing music… then the boy would have nurtured his dream of making violins in that workshop.
In a time when boys and girls of the same generation are living while rather avoiding the future (many children believe that nothing good comes from becoming an adult), the boy looks far into the distance and lives steadily. What would our heroine do if she met such a boy?
When presented with this question, the conventional girls’ manga transforms into an unrefined gem. Once shaped and polished, this gem would gleam, evolving into a modern masterpiece.
While valuing the untouched essence of the world of girls’ manga, one should also ponder what it means to lead a fulfilling life today.
This piece dares to declare the beauty of existence by infusing as much realism as possible into an idealized encounter.