Jun Naruse is a chatterbox whose life is colored by fairy tales and happy endings. However, influenced by her deep belief in those tales, she is too naive and trusting, and her words soon shatter her family's bond when she inadvertently reveals her father's affair. Naruse is scarred for life after being blamed for her parent's divorce, and her regrets soon manifest into a fairy egg—a being who seals her mouth from speaking in order to protect everyone's happy ending.
Now, even in high school, Naruse's speech remains locked by the fairy egg. Even trying to speak causes her stomach to twist. Though unable to convey her thoughts through words, she is unexpectedly chosen to perform in a musical alongside three other students: Takumi Sakagami, Natsuki Nitou, and Daiki Tasaki. Naruse makes her way to the club room to reject the daunting task, but changes her mind when she overhears Sakagami's beautiful singing.
Perhaps the fairy egg "curse" does not apply to singing, and perhaps Sakagami is the fairy tale prince she has been seeking all along. Will Naruse be able to convey the anthem of her heart?
Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda. was created by the production staff of the 2011 anime series Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai., and the two works are set in the city of Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture. It earned 1.12 billion yen in the Japanese box office according to data from the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan.
The movie was one of the Jury Selections in the Animation Division of the 19th Japan Media Arts Festival. It was also nominated for the Animation of the Year award in the 39th Japan Academy Prize. A live-action film adaptation opened in theaters in July 22, 2017.
Right now, there are 725 that have watched this movie. "Wow!", You say, "That's even less than Legend of The Galactic Heroes!" So here's THE deal I'm offering you. You get to be part of the exclusive 725 people (Now 726 if you watch it) who get to see something AMAZING. Care to hear my sales pitch?
Right now, 161 people, a good 21% percent of viewers, have rated this anime 10 OUT OF 10. Now that's not for no reason.
Lets kick this off with the story. Important background knowledge first: A young girl named Naruse stumbles upon a magnificent hilltop castle. Her
curiosity makes her see something she should not have: Her father coming down from the castle with what seems to be a princess- but Naruse has never seen her father with this princess before. Excited, she goes tell her mother about the castle upon the hill and how her father was going down the hill with another princess. Having been told something Naruse shouldn't have said, her Father is kicked out and the family is torn apart. Then, a magical egg prince appears and seals her ability to speak because she wishes not to hurt people with her words anymore. [Words aren't very good to describe the aforementioned parts without spoiling it] HOWEVER this all changes when she is forced to sing in a musical, and much to her surprise, she finds herself able to express her feeling and thoughts through song.
The meat of the plot revolves around her, and a bunch of other individuals, having to organize and participate in a school musical after being unwillingly chosen to do it. Among them a baseball captain, Tasaki, and 2 other students, Sakagami and Nitou. They are all developed quite nicely in the time of 1 hour and 59 minutes. The dramatic conflict is quite well played out, tension rising between Sakagami and Tasaki at the start, Tasaki and his baseball team, along with romantic conflict forming between Naruse, Sakagami, and Nitou, this love triangle of uncertainty. Thus, I really enjoyed watching that. I could go into further detail about all of it but you'd rather save it for when you actually watch the movie. What I can say, is that there is a very strong sense of resolution to the story and the character development [How characters change] is absolutely spot on. Especially Naruse's, as she is the main focus, on how she transforms from a quiet, unnoticed, kind of girl to someone willing to stand up for others and express herself, ever so slowly, through sometimes moments where she forces herself to shout her feelings and moments where she just begins to sing at the most random of times. [This show is a little like a musical, or at least music and song focused at times]
The art was not bad even though art doesn't play much of a role in this sort of setting. But now we get to the music. The music shines when the characters are writing or singing songs. There is a rendition of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" in Japanese and the lyrics are altered to reflect what Naruse wishes to say, which is to express her thoughts and feelings [Even musical the characters organize is a retelling of Naruse's story made more child friendly]. This song isn't heard a lot throughout the movie, but I shed a tear when it was sung during the performance of their musical. Evoking emotions is what the creators intend to do, and they did it damn well.
Overall this movie intended to be dramatic yet heartwarming, provoking the viewer's emotions to what it called for, and this show is all that. A beautiful piece of entertainment that will live on in the heart of the 726th viewer. What else do you expect from the writer of AnoHana?
[VIEWER WARNING: The drama is, to be honest, quite important when deciding if you want to watch this or not. It's a great part of the show. If you can't stand high school type drama, or you can't just click with it [essentially all drama we can't relate to we call "Melodrama"], perhaps you shouldn't watch this despite it being well portrayed and executed in my opinion. It's like people who don't like burgers will never eat any, no matter how good they are.]
[EDIT: At the time of this review I did not know that this hasn't been released in English subs for streaming/download. For those wondering, I watched it on Singapore Airline's in flight entertainment system in English subs. Sorry for not knowing and I hope it is available soon!]
Oh goody, another Mari Okada teen drama. I’m not sure when my mind has started seeing these things as commonplace, but it was probably around the moment when people started saying to me with a straight face that “no really, Wixoss is totally a touching psychological character drama. Especially regarding that one girl whose main wish is to fuck her brother.” Nevertheless, I was kind of looking forward to seeing Anthem of the Heart. Anime dramas tend to be more tolerable when they’re only given a limited amount of time to tell their stories, plus if I’m not mistaken, this is the Anohana team’s first
original film. So even if I didn’t like it, it’d at least be worth talking about. I’d say this review alone justifies the fifteen dollar price.
So the film starts with a little girl named Jun Naruse indulging in her Utena-like fantasies regarding a prince finding a princess when she sees her father leaving a castle-like love hotel with another woman. Not understanding what it means, she tells her mother about the incident and her father is soon given the boot, but not before reassuring her that his leaving was completely Jun’s fault. Fucking jackass. But since Jun is a kid, she sincerely believes it’s her fault to the point that she imagines a strange egg-shaped creature who tells her that her talkative personality needs to go if she wants to stop hurting people. Thus, Jun ends up getting the reputation of the girl who never talks by the time she enters high school and we get a promising setup about a girl having to face her inner demons in order to live a normal boring life.
After the timeskip, the film kickstarts by having the head teacher randomly choose four people to serve on the class council, and for good measure, he decides that they should be in charge of having the class put on a musical for the school festival because he’s just that much of a carefree jackass. Why? Because all good dramas have musical events in them and we needed a reason to get our outcast leads to participate in it no matter how contrived, let alone a reason to meet each other in the first place. So in addition to Jun and her personal problems, we get three other characters thrown in the equation, each with their own issues and romantic preferences between each other. I won’t spoil who’s hot for who, but the additional cast members are a nice boy who has no hobbies of his own, a gruff big dude who used to be the school’s top baseball player, and a cheerleader who puts on a confident facade to hide the fact that she had personal experiences with the nice boy in middle school. Think back to Anohana with these character types in mind, and you should be able to figure it out. Then become frustrated as the movie seems to change these preferences whenever the plot demands it.
Like most Mari Okada works, the film loses its way a short ways in in regards to discovering the best way to tell this story, because it keeps glancing at the “how to write drama” handbook whenever it’s confused on how to progress things and grabbing something from a really successful work without understanding why it worked when it did it. So what we end up with is a bloated mish-mash of underdeveloped tropes that tend to get in each other’s way rather than do any complementing. Most of the story is told in a rather dry manner where the characters just go through the motions and hang out with each other in order to establish that the little girl might like the shorter of the two males and that he might be the prince that will allow her to talk. But then she starts to speak up for herself because she wants to participate in the music club's activities because for some reason, she really wants to sing despite never showing any interest in it before. And then people are surprised she can talk. Then they aren't. I kept on feeling like I missed a post-it note explaining these transitions somewhere down the road.
And despite the story pushing Jun's problems, it never takes center-stage as much as it should, mostly due to the fact that it never feels like her inability to talk meshes well with any of the romantic entanglements or personal issues the other characters face. At times, it feels like Jun's inability to talk is just a vehicle to make her fall in love and deal with the consequences. I find that disappointing, because romance holds up about as well as action in standing on its own aka not well at all. It also doesn't help that good chunk of the subplots have that usual "came up with the set pieces first" problem you'd expect to see in a visual novel anime. The big gruff dude of the main cast is tangled in a conflict regarding his team and pushing them to the nationals that adds fuck all to the plot and only exists so that he'd have something to do, with said conflict getting swept under the rug after a few scenes and said guy losing any sense of importance throughout the story afterwards.
Also, as much as we see him, the main male lead never acts as anything more than an arbiter for events rather than a fleshed-out character with his own motivations. Any problem he experiences is always tied to one of the female characters, and it generally tends to circle back so that their problems are rooted in their relationship with him and nothing else besides vague motivations we never get to truly understand. I'll admit that where it finally ends up did stick in my mind, although it's a pity that the scenes preceding it were a real chore. I really wish Okada would stop it with conclusions where the characters cry and yell out all the frustrations that have been boiling up over time like it's some form of triumph. That's only true if the revelation lives up to the magnitude caused by the character's overacting, and Jun overcoming her ability to stop acting like a spoiled brat isn't exactly something worthy of a Lifetime achievement award. Especially since that problem was pretty much inserted in at the last minute due to that classic and incredibly tired "I heard something I shouldn't have" plot element that I thought we were over by now. There should be a rule in that drama handbook with the statement "don't do this crap!"
Buried somewhere underneath all the slipshodness, there's potential for an interesting story regarding personal problems and overcoming them, but in this team's hands, it's like trying to wring out noise from a giraffe. All the characters act dramatic whenever it's convenient for them after overly long periods of slow boils that can't stay focused long enough to develop into anything noteworthy, and the connection between their problems is thinner than a woman's spread legs when you start bringing up your opinion on right-wing policies. At its best Anthem of the Heart can most accurately be described as the quintessential example of a teenage anime drama, and I don't mean that in a good way. It has all the elements you'd expect of its genre, but the way they're executed is so wide-spread and bland that I grew bored and stopped caring about the characters thirty minutes in, then groaned when I realized that the movie was two hours long rather than the ninety minutes I initially thought. And it was really wearing on my patience during the ninety-minute mark, let me tell you that.
The film does sort of come into its own by the end, but it's not worth the long stretch of muddled subplots and dry buildup to get to that point. And all the ending really did at the end of the day was remind me of the vastly superior The Girl Who Leapt Through Time as well as the also superior Sound Euphonium. If you have the opportunity to go see Anthem of the Heart, I'd recommend watching those anime instead and simulating the experience by pretending the characters are all Final Fantasy archetypes by way of a Hot Topic filter. In other words, the emo whiners from Kingdom Hearts.
Kokoro ga Sakebittegaterunda reembraces the theme of “expressing yourself,” reminding people that it is okay to speak out their true feelings about anything. This anime film, from the creators of Anohana and Toradora, tells a coming of age story that many people can relate to. Because the film illustrates a very relatable everyday situation, Kokosake evokes enough nostalgia to the point where the film becomes tear-jerking. The film’s situation can be seen as a general self-reflection of anyone’s life, questioning the freedom of expression—whether one should talk her feelings out to the world freely, or keep any thoughts to herself. But, acknowledging that there are
many more choices and themes than this, Kokosake's story, characters, and music shows that it is a beautiful anime film worth watching.
With regards to the film’s story, Kokosake’s slice of life storytelling successfully portrays a situation that many people can relate to. In general, this plot sets to resolve the protagonists’ internal conflicts through the events of resolving the story’s conflict. In Kokosake’s case, Naruse Jun, the protagonist of the anime, has her internal conflict in which she cannot speak her true feelings—the main conflict that the film revolves around. As the story progresses, the resolution of the story’s conflict, the school musical, helped her to “open up her heart.” Cleverly enough, the story not only resolves Naruse Jun's internal conflict, but also resolves the conflicts of the other protagonists in the film.
The characters’ development in Kokosake was also enjoyable to watch. Kokosake’s plot is very beneficial toward developing the main protagonists’ relationship, communication, and their feelings toward each other. For example, Naruse’s personality changes as the story progresses. Naruse’s actions to “break out of her shell” is hilarious and at the same time relatable, making the film more interesting. There are some bits of comedy and typical anime tropes that tangent off the main story. But, overall, the story is well paced, has enough content to convey the film’s message, and concisely portrays the actions that Naruse Jun and the other protagonists take to resolve the main conflict.
The artwork that portrays this story brings the animation to life. With Anohana’s and Toradora’s art style, Kokosake’s artwork impressively makes the animation look realistic. The film’s settings is well drawn and emits an earthly vibe throughout the film. The characters of the anime were drawn really well to the point where anime seems to be merging with reality. The characters movements in the animation follow most physics and their facial expressions—especially Naruse’s expressions—is exaggerated to express emotions and feelings. Since Naruse does not initially communicate with actual words in the film, her facial expressions and body language conveys an idea about what she is trying to say. With this realistic and expressive art style, Kokosake’s art is one quality that makes the anime a beautiful film.
But, one of the main qualities that makes Kokosake such a beautiful film is through sound. Because the anime aims to encourage the freedom of expression, the voice acting and music are exaggerated. The voice acting matches the characters and their personalities and the music is well composed to match the situations during the plot, enhancing the liveliness of the anime. As the protagonists who can talk speak, the music serves as a substitute for Naruse’s silence and embellishes the atmosphere of the film. It may be because of the film’s music that enables people to shed tears along with the nostalgic story.
With this, Kokosake’s plot, artwork, voice acting, and soundtrack enhances the anime’s beauty, making the movie enjoyable to watch. The film does indeed beautifully conveys its theme. Thus, Kokosake’s coming of age story is one of many good anime that people young and old can enjoy.
But, the decision of whether this anime is worth watching is definitely up to you. I acknowledge and respect any opinions that you have for this anime and I hope that you will read my reviews in the future.
Trauma from the past play a huge factor in the way we govern our lives in the future. Although there are ways to rehabilitate, more often than not we remain changed as a person and even more often we don't get the proper treatment or outright deny it.
From the producers that brought you Anohana, Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda feels like a one-shot that hits you right in the feels the same way it does with Anohana. We as an audience can draw from many of the experiences in our own life in all scales and magnitude to relate to Naruse Jun as she struggles to live
the adolescent years of her life when faced with traumatic experiences in her past.
While Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda follows a story of similar circumstance as Anohana, what really drives a story home is the use of good sound in combination of a natural and fluent devlopment of the plot. There was an excellent contrast of song and music with corresponding parts of the film and even if there was a lack of ambient sounds throughout the film, the core parts of the film came together very naturally with music and setting in harmony which is what I thought they did a spectacular job in. The characters don't seem to stand out excluding Naruse but it fits the school life setting so it could be argued that that was the atmosphere the producers wanted to achieve.
To conclude, this film ended up being quite enjoyable and is absolutely worth your time and your money if you are lucky enough to catch this in theaters.
You think you know anime movies? Have you seen all 30 of these movies on our best anime movie list? Our writer sets themselves a only-one-movie-per-director rule and comes up with 30 movies every anime fan must see.