This is definitely my kind of movie. It's fuunny and sweet, it has a happy ending, nobody dies, and the old people are wise, intelligent, and important to the story. The pacing is leisurely, but not so slow as to drag. It's just a "nice" movie, all the way around.
My favorite sequence is when Shizuku mockingly pleads with Seiji for him to play his violin. He agrees, but only if she'll sing. As they are playing and singing, Grandfather comes home, with his friends, and they sneak down the stairs and join in. Don't tell anybody, but that bit was so cute I realized I was crying. What a sissy!
(Then one of my household members walked through the room, paused a moment during that scene, and scoffed, "that's weird," and paid no further attention. "Anime night" at my house is a solo affair.)
"Whisper of the Heart" kind of meanders along, without a strong central plot, at least not during the first third or so of the film; it touches on geology, music, violin-making, antiques, technology-in-education ("I need to get an electronic notebook," Mom says early in the film; in subsequent scenes, she's working on her laptop computer), and the characters do lots of real-world stuff like washing dishes, buying groceries at the market, and being late for school and work. The scene where Dad lights up a cigarette during a family discussion, and tries to blow the smoke off to the side rather than into the others' faces, is an example of the low-key details that bring this movie to life.
I happened across this film tonight on Turner Classic Movies on TV. I didn't know TCM had "anime night." Maybe they don't, perhaps it's just a one-shot deal. Anyway, they're also running "Pom Poko," which I shall record.