WOAH THIS IS LATE. Sorry about that guys, I figured with Christmas I could take a bit of a break, but time seems to fly by faster the older you get. Fancy that. Anyway, since I’ve talked about Yuri on Ice a couple times, the definition of Yaoi, I think it’s fair to talk about some good ol’ fashioned lady-love. Oddly enough, since I mostly do articles on anime or games that people have either watched or at least heard of, this is new territory since I can’t recall ANYONE talking about this anime. Hell I didn’t even know there was an anime for this manga until about 5 hours ago. But considering it’s been years since I’ve read the manga, I thought it would be cool to watch this and see how it’s adapted. To be fair, I’ve only seen about 4 episodes of the anime at the time of writing this, but so far I can say I’m pleasantly surprised. Not many of my beloved manga that no one has ever heard of get turned into a great product, so it’s at least noteworthy in that regard. Expecting a half-baked product, what I’ve gotten so far is a well-animated, beautifully-directed, and smartly-composed take on the classic tale of unrequited love. The title of that story is Sasameki Koto, or “Whispered Words.”
Ushio Kazama is a girl who likes girls. Super cute girls. And that’s about it. In her highschool, she’s accompanied by her best friend Sumika Murasame on her conquest to find the girl of her dreams. As opposed to Ushio, who is an adorable and cute girl, Sumika is very tall and very bland. While Ushio fauns over every cute girl walking in her vicinity, Sumika keeps a level head since Ushio has done this since middle school. Ushio’s ventures in same-sex romance usually ends in typical rejection, Sumika there to pick her up and tell her she told her so. But the twist is that Sumika actually does have romantic feelings for Ushio, despite Sumika’s very stock appearance and personality. The anime follows the two as Ushio still searches for her soulmate while Sumika tries both help her and hinder her. Yes this is the tale of the accursed friend-zone.
This setup is not original, and conceptually speaking there isn’t a whole lot that can be done with it. Thankfully this story is not the typical yuri bait and actually has a lot of character to it. While it isn’t perfect, with some questionable dialogue and writing sometimes, a lot of characters have pretty interesting story arcs. There aren’t a thousand side-characters to keep track of and the anime thankfully knows how to make a joke. Some pretty good ones in fact, this anime really knows timing. Every character seems to have at least one good joke in them, and both Sumika and Ushio are a good source of comedy. But what really separates this from the pack is that it does get very emotional. While the writers could’ve written typical romcom hijinx and sold it on the yuri aspects and called it a day, you get actual romantic drama. There are a lot of jokes that center around Ushio preferring the adorable and tiny girls while Sumika listens to her in lament, but a good amount of drama also comes from that same fact. While she’s being the best friend she can, Sumika knows all too well that her confession will not only end in failure, but also drive Ushio away. Despite that, there are many circumstances that have her try to get Ushio the dream girl she desires, even though it would cause her pain. There are also many circumstances, which I’m unsure will be covered in the anime, where characters get fed up with each other. In a very Silent Voice type of way, many of the characters’ chemistry goes both ways and can change from admiration to disgust. Shockingly, actions that start off as comedic bits often turn into dramatic turning points that develop a character and provide some great drama.
But what probably helps this the most is the directing and presentation as a whole. Although I’m not too much of a fan of the character designs, some of them looking a little out of place considering the normalcy of everything else, Whispered Words sports the exact type of atmosphere I expected when I heard that this had an anime. Not something that’s flashy or ridiculously moe, something that is very subdued and indulges in softer colors. There are quite a few establishing shots in this series, and many are accompanied without music. The animation is silky smooth, something that looks impressive by today’s seasonal anime standards, let alone 2009 when the anime was first broadcast. The linework is beautiful, the color choices are superb for the right moments, and even the music is something I really love. Whenever I hear of an anime for a manga I love, I imagine the thematic presentation that would match it based on the pace of the manga. Whispered Words is exactly what I envisioned, an anime that uses a lot of quiet shots and moments of dialogue accompanied with soft music only for it to cut out at a dramatic sting. The music is comprised mostly of piano and violin, and that’s the type of music I drool over. Although I will say some tracks have some choir in it, and it’s a bit distracting. The opening, while being as basic as you can get, sports a very calm song to get you into the mood of the show, which is to say a tale of unrequited love between two girls.
Interestingly enough, I’m one of the most apathetic anime critics you’ll ever meet. By that, I mean when it comes to progressive writing and story direction, I will only accept it if the writing is good, as a critic should. The reason is that it can very easily turn from a good story into the same preachy nonsense that has plagued stories over the last couple years, despite many critics giving it a pass on moral grounds. As such, most progressive stories I run into range from god-awful to okay, but Whispered Words is actually one of the few I actually enjoy. It never gets to a point where I feel like I’m being lectured, and shockingly enough, it does have a lot of talk of progressive writing. It doesn’t ever feel annoyingly obvious, because it is mostly centered on Sumika trying to deal with the fact that her crush just is not interested in her. That helps it along when there are multiple characters that are trying to push a more progressive thought. What also helps, of course, is that the writing is both smart and dramatic, the presentation is beautiful and matching, and the characters are both charming and real. I haven’t completely finished the anime yet, so it might be best to take this with a grain of salt for now, but as for now, Whispered Words is one anime about same-sex partners that actually has some substance to it.