Mild spoilers

This anime season is coming to an end. AOT has just released the most incredible episode of the season. Watch it. It is epic. It is  powerful. Reminds of a great poem by a great poet:

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

 

Fairy Tail is winding up. The guilds are up against Zeref, the 12 most powerful mages in the world and an army of a million men. The very land they fight for has been destroyed and twisted beyond recognition. Acnologia still stalks the world, seeking to destroy everything including Zeref. Important characters die.

On a completely different note, I am completely enjoying the mindless Isekai Quartet. The cast from Overlord, KonoSuba, Re:Zero, and Tanya the Evil are whisked away in chibi form to school where they have to learn to get along. These are all great mindless Kadokawa isekai and IMHO the last three ended too soon. Glad to see more of them, even if this isn’t quite how I imagined it.


Back to the anime in question. Liz and the Blue Bird is a story within a story. It is a children’s book about a lonely girl named Liz. This Liz lives in an idyllic setting where she feeds the local animals out of her hand but has no other people she associates with. One day she sees an incredibly beautiful blue bird who lands in her hand and then flies away

Soon after that, she meets a mysterious girl. They get along well, so they move in and live together. Eventually the visiting girl leaves. It is then that we learn the visitor was really the blue bird who had transformed into a girl to share some love with Liz and then transformed back when it was time to go.

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Our main characters, Mizore Yoroizuka and Nozomi Kasaki have a similar relationship. Mizore is more the primary character in the anime as Liz in in the story. She was lonely as a first year until Nozomi meets her and invites to to join the band with her. Mizore is a very quiet and reserved girl and quite shy. Her face is lovely even if subdued and a little sad. Nozomi is outgoing and cheerful with a lively face.

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Together, these two and five other girls are going to perform a piece on stage entitled Liz and the Blue Bird. Mizore and Nozome will be featured as soloists. We have yet another layer, a musical piece about the story within the story. Nozomi can’t wait to perform. Mizore hopes the day never comes. Perhaps she is fearful that Nozomi will fly away, just as the bird does in the story.

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We cut back and forth between Liz in the story and the girls. Liz works in a bakery in a town but doesn’t seem to be able to connect to the other people. Her prayer before a meager dinner alone is “Make us prepared for eternity.” There is a terrible storm. The next morning Liz finds a girl with hair and clothing of blue unconscious in front of her house.

Mizore is obviously falling for Nozomi in a romantic way. Sitting together by themselves before practise, her eyes close and her head starts to lean over onto Nozomi’s shoulder. Nozomi jumps up and refocuses on the music. Perhaps Nozomi is a little nervous about the budding attraction. The rest of the group arrives, breaking the ambiance.

So begins the movie called, Liz and the Blue Bird. It is a spin-off of Sound! Euphonium reprising many of the secondary characters but you do not need to have seen it to enjoy the movie. Naoko Yamada of A Silent Voice directed it. There is delicacy in the videography I find uncommon even in feature length films.

I was never able to get into Euphonium. I watched 8 episodes but something about the “high school band reaching for glory” trope failed to interest me. OTOH the obvious relationship and the multilevel story telling in L&BB grabbed me. Also the high quality of anime art. Scenes shot at odd angles. Scenes with the center of focus off center. The psychadelic color of the flowers, the watercolor quality of the parallel “Liz” story. The slow pace and low key sound track expressed awkwardness and uncertainty so well. These things impressed and pleased me.

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Mizore is painfully shy and withdrawn. My feeling about her is that she is not just introverted but rather profoundly depressed. Nozome is happy to go out with a group of flute players but when Mizore is asked to go out with a group of “double reed” instrument players, her quiet response is, “I’m good.” This leads the offering girl to wonder if she had gotten on Mizore’s wrong side.

The only person in Mizore’s life that generates any interest is Nozome. The rest of the world may as well not exist. She has no plans for the future other than Nozome.

The popular and energetic Nozome has her own issues. She is also insecure about the future but hides it well.

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Even as Liz wished she could ask the blue bird to stay forever, Mizore wishes she could ask the same of Nozome as well as Nozome of Mizore. This story is about the failure to communicate and the fear and misapprehension that can cause that. Without communication, neither can see the other for what they are nor can either one express what they want and need. Assumptions are made that miss the mark. This is their senior year and last competiton together and probably their last chance to form a deep bond with each other.

A lot of people will not like this anime because of the slow pace. There will be people screaming at the girls to just sit down and have a decent girl talk. People will be bored and want a cut to the chase. Definitely not a movie (90+ minutes) for those who crave action.

I leave it to you to decide who is Liz and who is the blue bird. Or perhaps they are both for each other.

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