Synonyms: Gekijouban Hibike! Euphonium: Mizore to Nozomi no Monogatari, Hibike! Euphonium: The Story of Mizore and Nozomi, Hibike! Euphonium Movie: Mizore to Nozomi no Monogatari, Liz and the Blue Bird
"Liz to Aoi Tori" is essentially a side story to the "Hibike Euphonium" series, and from the very start, it fully embraces that role. Fans of the TV anime will likely find themselves despairing over the limited screen-time of their favorite cast members, inching forward in their seats as Kumiko, Reina, and the rest of the now-second-year ensemble teasingly jump in and out of picture for only moments at a time. This minor frustration will only be temporary, however, as we're forced out of that frame of mind, into the soft, melancholic lens of our focal point in this movie: Mizore. Although this story exists
in the same music room we've all come to know, it takes on a different hue. Owing in large part to the incredible soundtrack and fresh character designs and art direction, the tone of the movie shifts entirely, transitioning from an inspirational story of motivation and hard work into a deeply somber and introspective world.
The story itself is very simple, examining the relationship of Nozomi and Mizore in their final year in high school. It openly compares the feelings of the two characters with the piece they play, the namesake of the film, and the folktale it was based on. I was originally concerned that the comparison would end up overplayed and come off as forced, but I left pleasantly surprised. The film acknowledges the simplicity and straight-forwardness of the story, but instead of allowing itself to be confined to that, it achieves a level of technical mastery that managed to blow me away, even though I was already plenty used to the historically superb Kyoto Animation and the other wonderful works by director Naoko Yamada before watching it.
The film succeeds on such a level because it allows itself to be a single vignette in the "Hibike" storyline. It's not a story of hard work, a story of competition, or even a story of music. It's a simple story of two characters, and it's precisely because this aspect of it was so intimately understood by the production crew at KyoAni that such a story was allowed to flourish. There is no excess. The film brazenly jumps through time, refusing to linger on anything unnecessary while still allowing the events that clearly happen off-screen to create meaningful depth in the story. We don't focus on what practicing is like. We don't see what the characters do on their weekends. We don't listen to the girls ruminating on their feelings in the comfort of their beds. From the moment we as an audience walk with Mizore onto campus at the beginning to when we exit it at the end, all we see is what's limited to the confines of the school, to the band room and to our two leads, and everything else is left to become a sort of wistful ether that exists on the fringes of our minds. Because what was shown was clearly so carefully chosen, we come to viscerally understand the weight behind every lingering shot. It's an incredibly delicate experience, and one that could've only been realized with production quality of this caliber.
Yamada's quirks as a director have often been the subject of conversation in the anime community, but I believe that this film has been one of the best applications of those idiosyncrasies to date. Her approach to the art of unspoken communication paralleled the film's focus on Mizore, a girl unable to truly express, and at moments even understand, her own feelings. Subtle gestures such as Mizore stroking her hair not only serve to silently convey the cast's thoughts, but end up feeling as if they were sewn into the very plot itself due to how integral of a role they play. The consistent focus on the characters' legs—a mainstay in Yamada's works—mirrors Mizore's own downcast eyes, and the other camera shots always seem to look off to the side, as if shyly avoiding the characters around her. Add to this the introduction of a softer pastel art style, and we see the world brilliantly through the lens of our main characters, creating something amazingly intimate.
The soundtrack and sound direction are, hands down, the shining star of the film. It combines composer Kensuke Ushio's fragmented, minimal approach also found on his work in Yamada's previous film, "Koe no Katachi," with the expertly realized orchestral arrangements that the series is known for. However, gone are the sweeping brass-heavy pieces that complimented Kumiko's role as a main character in the original series. The introduction of the new piece instead turns the focus to the woodwinds. Brass now supports from the background, and the airy voices of woodwind instruments paint the entirety of the film with a wonderful warmth that sets it apart from the main franchise. The parallel stories of Mizore and Nozomi and the girls from the folktale blend masterfully into each other because of this—from the gorgeous bass clarinet adding a sense of comforting security to the cold isolation of a "Koe no Katachi"-styled piano piece casting an ominous tone over the characters—yet the well-timed use of other instruments such as the bassoon add the perfect amount of levity when necessary (the bassoon in particular being used wonderfully to comedic effect when the bassoonists themselves are relevant to the scene), while still staying in line with the overarching thematic style.
That's why this film works. Every aspect of it is fine-tuned to near-uncanny perfection. The psyches of each character are silently brought to the surface through each deliberate animation choice, from Nozomi's eyes darting around the room to Mizore's subconscious trembling. The soundtrack compliments each and every emotional swell—synchronized musical flourishes match footsteps and impeccably timed silences pull us devastatingly close to the most minute of actions. Each background track cuts to the core, yet never accidentally overpowers the gentle art and soft color scheme. Because of this masterful balance, all of the reactions are almost unnaturally natural, seemingly larger than life because of how lifelike they are. This kind of exaggerated humanity is an achievement only possible through the medium of animation, and even then, I have never seen it done quite like this. Although giving a full score seems like it could be a provocative statement for a film focused simply on the minutia of a measly two characters, if this movie isn't considered among the best for the sheer level of craftsmanship that it exhibits, then I really don't know what other film deserves to be.
From the world's most famous female anime director, Yamada Naoko, comes Liz and the Blue Bird. A spinoff movie of Hibike Euphonium, produced under KyoAni.
The movie focuses on two Hibike side characters, Mizore and Nozomi. The story is about their relationship and personal drama, mainly focusing around the ever present music and how it plays a part in their coming-of-age and self-discovery, giving a meaning to their life and the base to their relationship. The movie especially focuses on how hard letting go off something is, and raises the question "are all good things really bound to end?" This is presented in 3 different
ways. Directly in daily life, inderectly and silently through audiovisual story-telling which is mainly seen via character behavior and expressions, and the third way being the symbolism of Liz/aoi tori.
The music presented is way more impactful -for myself at least- than in the actual Tv series. The art an animation is typical KyoAni for the expectation of the actual monogatari side of the story which is so fluid and gentle it looks almost fragile. Surprisingly beautiful for KyoAni who practically never tries anything new to secure mainstream appeal. Kudos for that.
Basically, this is highly similar to other KyoAni movies. In a way, it's like Tamako Love Story with different approach, but also like Koe no Katachi except this time the other lead characters is not a mary sue. For those who enjoyed these movies for their drama, and found beauty within them, Liz and the Blue Bird is more than recommendable.
A Genuine Masterpiece of Yuri; Or How Shoujo Become Adult
After international success of "Koe no Katachi" (or, "A Silent Voice,") Naoko Yamada has been regarded as one of leading anime directors. In "Koe no Katachi," Yamada tried to adopt the adolescent's sense of guilt as a main subject and depict how the young overcomes their difficult time of teenage, which was highly reputed both by the folk and by the critics.
As the former work shows, Naoko Yamada tends to depict teenagers' mental conflict, sour-sweet love, and attitudes towards coming future, especially girls. This is true also in the latest featured anime, "Liz to Aoi Tori."
to Aoi Tori" is a kind of spin-off of Kyoto Animation's "Hibike! Euphonium" series. However, though all of characters on the screen are from the TV series, there is no need of watching it before you go to cinemas. Yamada created this movie as a completely independent work.
The protagonist is Mizore, a high-school student and good at playing the oboe. Though she is spending her last year of the school, she have not decided what she will do after graduation. What she always thinks of is Nozomi, her cheerful friend, and, a member of the school band like Mizore is.
For Mizore and Nozomi's final chance of winning the national competition, a coach selects an instrumental composition, 'Liz to Aoi Tori,' which is based on a (fictitious) fairy tale. As the best players of oboe and flute in the club, they starts to practice hard, but it seems that something between them becomes an obstacle to brush up the music, and after realizing that fact the two meet each other in a biology room.
In this work, both Mizore and Nozomi's emotions and standpoints are likened to the characters of the fairy tale, Liz, a lonely girl, and the blue bird, which transforms itself to a girl and starts to live with Liz to heal Liz's sadness. In the end of the tale, the blue bird leaves Liz's house, following Liz's advice. The director, Naoko Yamada, carefully treated this tale and accomplished to make it the framework of the entire anime.
At first, we might consider that Mizore is compared to Liz, for she does not have many friends and tend to bare loneliness. In contrast, Nozomi's gregarious trait easily connects to the cheerful blue bird, which is believed to bring happiness, in our brains.
This assumption leads us to one certain understanding: this movie may be about Yuri or even girls' love between Mizore and Nozomi. True, for Mizore Nozomi is her only friend. Mizore always stands just behind Nozomi and follows her. Such acts reminds us of many Yuri anime/manga.
However, "Liz to Aoi Tori" is not merely a Yuri anime; it depicts how shoujo leave their teenage-like traits, as the blue birds leaves the cage. We cannot deny that "Liz to Aoi Tori" is a masterpiece of the Yuri culture, but this work goes beyond this reputation.
Throughout the story, Yamada rarely depicts landscapes or incidents outside the school. For teenagers, it is school that isolates them from the society; school is the cage. As long as they remain in school, they can be shoujo and avoid from being adult. However, shoujo cannot be shoujo forever, because of request from the world, and of their growing. Someday shoujo will have to fly from the nest. Yamada has already realized it and includes this school - cage metaphor in "Liz to Aoi Tori" to express growing of Mizore and Nozomi after going through their conflicts.
As above, Yamada's ambition easily goes beyond our expectation. What is impressive here is that Kyoto Animation and staffs of "Liz to Aoi Tori" met Yamada's, and our anticipation with highly-refined techniques and unusual talents. Animators succeeded to live up to Yamada's fine direction plans, from where eyes focus to tiny actions of Mizore, which reflects transition of her emotions. Drawings of the fairy tale is also worth mentioning; you might feel as if you were reading an animated picture book.
Music and sound effects are memorable, too. Kensuke Ushio, a composer, again made an unique soundtrack mainly based on notes of piano. Like "Koe no Katachi," Yamada and Ushio used classical piano tunes effectively, which tells us the changes of characters' mind, their maturity and immaturity, and their growing. Sound effects helps such direction using music, so I strongly recommend you to see this work in theater.
With these sophisticated elements, Yamada tried to tell us something important. Back to the theme of this work, the director concisely showed how shoujo open a door to the world, that is, how shoujo leave their young days. As is often the case with Yamada's featured anime, words appeared in her movie are keys. At the beginning of the movie, we see an impressive word: 'disjoint.' Then, Yamada gives us another clue at the end of this work; again she indicates the word 'disjoint' and then she erases a prefix 'dis-.' Paradoxically, by disjointing we can joint; or, by jointing we can disjoint. It will not mean that in order to disjoint we have to joint something in advance; it just implies that jointing and disjointing are supporting each other. Shoujo can be mature women by jointing ties to someone and by disjointing it.
After all, Mizore and Nozomi decided to help each other, though a tragedy has set on. It is that way that they will take to grow up, which indicates us what 'joint' and 'disjoint' mean. Both Mizore and Nozomi are Liz, though the two are also the blue bird. Supporting each other, shoujo will fly to another sky. Naoko Yamada achieved to express it finely. Definitely one of the best anime in 2018.
First off, to those not familiar with the series Hibiki Euphorium, the movie can be viewed standalone without any knowledge of the said series, however, knowing the series and the various character in it brings an extra depth and enjoyment when viewing the movie.
The movie deals with the simple yet close relationship between two side characters in the main series and the storybook tale of the affrementioned title of the movie. Mizore is a quiet and shy character who we see in her seemingly daily routine of quietly coming to school early and wait on it's steps for her only friend Nozomi,
a lively and chipper girl. The way they don't need to talk much to acknowlede the other tells us this is their usual way. Mizore plays the oboe, Nozomi plays the flute, both of them plays an important solo on the school's band.
Nozomi brought along a book that interest Mizore. The book is "Liz and the blue". As Mizore reads the story, she finds herself symphathizing to the lovely but very lonely Liz in the book, especially when Liz grew fond of a pretty blue that suddenly came by.
The movie's main theme about love and about growing up and about the things one must give up especially to those we truly love rings true on how both Mizore and Nozomi interpret the said fairy tail. Both girls are going into their third year and last year of high-school, they've been together for a long time as seen in the flashbacks. Nozomi is the cheerful and popular one, with lots of friends. Mizore, whose very talented in playing the oboe is rather the introvert, wouldnt even bother to help her junior in the club to play their instrument without much prodding. We get to know more of the two with film's leasurely pace and unusually bright but flat artwork while juxtaposing it to Liz's colorful sorta Ghibli-esque watercolor wash. Both of the girls had their peaceful day on the sun, but sadly everything must come to an end like all good fairytale. A precious time in their life's chapter must come to bittersweet conclusion in order to move on to next chapter in their lives, sadly like the blue bird, each have a different path they must fly too. To have the strenght to let go of the other is probably hardest thing one can do. There lies the drama of Liz and the blue bird.
The film's quite different in look and tone of the main series. I for one like the more angular flat design of the film. It presents the characters in a more direct, less enhanced look. There's still the usual quirks by Kyoani and director Yamada in the film like the constant use of rack-focus on the characters close-up face, the quirky running that the girls do... Though I don't see thue usual cutting the characters mouth kind of framing that they used to do.
The film is quite engaging. Some people might get bored at the film's slow pacing and a rather uneventful drama, but the leasurely pace let me breath in more the films atmosphere and setting, it get's me more to emphathize with the movie's two protagonist, as well as showing the series main charcters in a new light.
Once again this film is one of those you either love it or hate it. The points that one considers weakness in the story or plot are also considered it's strenght to some. It's quite hard to point a finger into it's construction without exposing one's bias to either one.