Sony Pictures Entertainment announced on Tuesday that Aoi Hiiragi’s Whisper of the Heart (Mimi o Sumaseba) manga is inspiring a live-action film that will open in Japan on September 18. The film stars Nana Seino (live-action Kyou Kara Ore Wa!!, After the Rain, Nowhere Girl, Tokyo Tribe films, left in image below) as Shizuku Tsukishima, and Tori Matsuzaka (Hello World, Himitsu – Top Secret, .hack//The Movie, Gatchaman, Kyō, Koi o Hajimemasu, Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, right) as Seiji Amasawa. Yūichirō Hirakawa (live-action The Promised Neverland, ERASED/Boku dake ga Inai Machi, Waiting for Spring, Rookies, JIN projects) is directing the movie, which Sony Pictures Entertainment and Shochiku will distribute.
The new film’s story will be set 10 years after the original manga’s story. Now 24, Shizuku has given up her dream of being a novelist, but works hard every day to sell books as a children’s book editor at a publishing company. Meanwhile, Seiji is still following his dream abroad, even as the distance between him and Shizuku grows ever larger.
The original manga inspired an anime film by Yoshifumi Kondō and Studio Ghibli in 1995. The story follows junior high school bookworm Shizuku as she has a chance encounter with a mysterious antique shop, and the boy Seiji Amasawa, the grandson of the shop’s owner. A novice violin maker, Seiji has also attracted Shizuku’s attention as she has noticed for a while that his name is written on the checkout cards of the books she borrows from the library. Seiji’s passion for violin-making inspires Shizuku to pursue her dream of writing a novel.
Hiiragi published the manga in Shueisha‘s shōjo manga magazine Ribon in 1989. Hiiragi published a sequel manga titled Mimi o Sumaseba: Shiawase na Jikan in 1995, and a spinoff titled Baron: The Cat Returns in 2002. Viz Media published Baron: The Cat Returns in English. That manga inspired Hiroyuki Morita and Studio Ghibli‘s The Cat Returns film in 2002.
Another Ghibli anime, Ocean Waves, is based on a novel that also received a sequel novel and live-action television special sequel in 1995. Similarly, the Grave of the Fireflies and Kiki’s Delivery Service novels inspired both Ghibli anime films and live-action adaptations.