Movie Review: Liz and the Blue Bird


Movie Poster by Kyoto Animation

Daniel Gomez, Online Editor-In-Chief

Anime movies having theatrical releases in the US is becoming a more common occurrence in recent years. Following the massive success of Your Name in 2017 more movies are starting to release with the latest being Liz and the Blue Bird. Director Naoko Yamada and production studio Kyoto Animation created this film as a side story to their 2016 television hit Sound! Euphonium, a slice of life show centered around a Japanese high school concert band. Slice of life is a genre focused on the day to day life of the characters. Unlike popular anime shows like Dragonball and My Hero Academia, shows from this genre focus far more on characters and how they live their lives. They substitute battles and superpowers, for a slower pace and more intimate style of storytelling.

A Duet & A Fairytale

Liz and the Blue Bird focuses on the relationship between Mizore Yoroizuka and Nozomi Kasaki, two side characters from Sound! Euphonium. The two are close friends struggling with a duet in their upcoming concert band performance. The piece they are performing is based on a fairytale called Liz and the Blue Bird, which is a story about a lonely girl named Liz and a bluebird who can transform into a girl. They form a strong bond until Liz realizes she must say goodbye to the bird to allow her to fly. This directly reflects the struggle Mizore and Nozomi face as they approach graduation, and to make matters worse the duet they play depicts Liz’s goodbye.

The film is a story of loving someone and learning to do what is best for them, even if it is not what you want. Mizore is introverted and feels that she is holding the extrovert Nozomi back. Nozomi is an average flute player and feels that she is holding the extremely talented oboe player Mizore back. The film uses sections from the storybook to act as a frame of reference for these emotions. They also allow for a change of scenery keeping the setting interesting.

Final Thoughts

Liz and the Blue Bird is a modern masterpiece on at least the same level as Your Name. What the film lacks in concept it more than makes up for in presentation. Both background and character art are stunning to behold. Kyoto Animation is known for their amazing character animation that makes characters feel human-like. Characters have nervous ticks, make facial expressions, and move in a way that shows what they are thinking without ever exchanging a word of dialogue. The background art is strong for the high school sections; however, it truly shines in the fairytale sections. The art changes to a watercolor landscape that is breathtaking.

Finally, the music is what pulls the whole movie together. No matter how strong the art is, the music is what allows for a slower pace without making the movie dull. The band pieces also show the main characters improving over time. Overall, Liz and the Blue Bird is must see for any fan of animation. It serves as a great introduction to the Sound! Euphonium franchise, and a great introduction to the entire slice of life genre. The movie will remain in select theatres with times and dates available here.