Animated Movies, Indie-mation, Reviews, Studios

[Review] ‘Liz and the Blue Bird’ (Liz to Aoi Tori)

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Last year, one of my favorite films was A Silent Voice by director Naoka Yamada. This is an anime film based on a manga, and it emotionally ruined me each time I saw it (three times). So, it is probably understandable why I went into her new film, Liz and the Blue Bird, with high expectations. While it is not in the same league as A Silent Voice, it is a sweet and pleasant film that’s worth a watch.

Liz and the Blue Bird is based on an anime series called Sound Euphonium, which ran from 2015 to 2016. I have never seen the show, but my understanding is it followed the members of a high school band in Kyoto. Online fans of the show are really enjoying this movie, so I think they stay pretty close to the show’s themes and ideas.

For this story, they focus on two members of the band, Mizore and Nozomi. These two are dear friends who are preparing to graduate from the band and school. It was a little unclear whether this friendship was more than friends (which is something I often find in anime, so I think there may be a cultural difference going on with portraying physical affection in friendships and romantic relationships). At one point, the girls share an intimate hug, but it is never clear if their relationship is romantic.

While the girls are struggling with their separation, they are asked to play a piece of music based on a German fairytale called ‘Liz and the Blue Bird,’ which then gives us a second narrative of the fairytale within the film. This was very sweet, and it makes sense because it is a story about loving people enough to let them go.

The animation in Liz and the Blue Bird is gorgeous, and I appreciated the differences between the fairytale world (like the character designs) and the real world story. There also was a ton of heart and many sweet moments between both sets of girls that will ring true for many, especially teens.

However, where A Silent Voice devastated me, Liz and the Blue Bird didn’t connect with me in the same way. It’s pleasant and sweet, and both stories are enjoyable, but it just didn’t have that extra umph I was hoping it would have. I also didn’t love the music, which was a big surprise because I adored the music in A Silent Voice. This score was a bit too precocious for my taste and sometimes was distracting from the softer moments of the film.

Still, Liz and the Blue Bird is definitely worth a watch for the nice message of friendship and the beautiful animation. If you can find it near you, I recommend seeing it especially if you are a big anime fan and familiar with the series.

★★★ out of 5

Liz and the Blue Bird opens in theaters November 9th. If you get a chance to see it, let us know what you think of it in the comments section!

Edited by: Kelly Conley

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About Rachel Wagner

Rachel is a rottentomatoes approved film critic and podcaster. She loves all things animation and does a monthly podcast on classic Disney films and on obscure animation at Rachel's Reviews. She also is the founder and lead host of The Hallmarkies Podcast. She grew up with mainstream classics like The Little Mermaid and The Simpsons but also loves indie and anime fare like Song of the Sea and Your Name. Most important to her is discussing all kinds of film and TV shows with her friends and all of you. Follow Rachel on twitter at @rachel_reviews and on her blog rachelsreviews.net