Have a good cry recently? Well, thanks to Naoko Yamada and Kyoto Animation, you’ll have one soon enough. Naoko Yamada is a prolific anime director whose credits include the K-ON! franchise and the 2016 film, A SILENT VOICE. This year, she’s back with the English sub release of her latest film, LIZ AND THE BLUE BIRD.

Released in Japan in April of 2018, LIZ AND THE BLUE BIRD is a spin-off of the successful light novel series, SOUND! EUPHONIUM. SOUND! EUPHONIUM takes place in Kitauji High School and follows the exploits of the school’s music club. After garnering commercial success, the series was adapted into a manga and then an anime series that was produced by Kyoto Animation in 2016.

LIZ AND THE BLUE BIRD follows the relationship of Mizore Yoroizuka and Nozomi Kasaki, two students of Kitauji High School, who have been practicing the song “Liz and the Blue Bird.” The song comes from a fairy tale in which a girl named Liz falls in love with a man capable of transforming into a bluebird. By the end of the story, Liz allows the bird to fly away, granting him his freedom. Mizore doesn’t understand why Liz would let the bird go, and the film sees the girls reflect on their time together.

Mizore from LIZ AND THE BLUE BIRD locking eyes with a fish.
Mizore locking eyes with a fish. | Image: Crunchyroll

The fantasy serves as an allegory for Mizore and Nozomi’s relationship. Mizore is afraid of being alone while Nozomi tries to assure her she isn’t leaving. The story appeals to a person’s need for companionship while reminding us of how harmful anxiety can be. Mizore’s anxiety drives her fear of being alone, despite having someone who loves her.

The Perfect Fit

Director Naoko Yamada loves to tell stories that are emotionally charged. If you couldn’t tell from LIZ AND THE BLUE BIRD’s premise, try watching A SILENT VOICE. A SILENT VOICE is about a school bully who tracks down his victim years after being estranged. It delves into the psychology of childhood trauma while addressing the importance of acceptance. Both A SILENT VOICE and LIZ AND THE BLUE BIRD have received universal acclaim for their character-driven drama. See what we mean in the trailer below:

As the trailer demonstrates, the animation style in LIZ AND THE BLUE BIRD fits perfectly with the tone of the story. The lines are crisp and the camera has enough movement to make even plain scenes interesting to look at. What’s more, the characters are extremely expressive. Characters can say a lot with a glance or their expressions when they look at one another. By showing the viewers what’s going on rather than telling them, the animators provide miles of story from every inch of footage.

This specific animation studio, Kyoto Animation, specializes in dramatic anime. Not only are they responsible for A SILENT VOICE, but Kyoto Animation also produced VIOLET EVERGARDEN among a litany of titles. While their vast catalog of anime genres does vary, one common trait in their recent stories is drama. Whether it be slice-of-life or fantasy, Kyoto Animation is able to appeal to our emotional sensibilities by making scenes relatable. LIZ AND THE BLUE BIRD is no exception.

Mizore and Nozomi in each other's embrace from LIZ AND THE BLUE BIRD.
How sweet it is to be loved by you. | Image: IGN

LIZ AND THE BLUE BIRD Hits Theaters Soon!

Excited to see LIZ AND THE BLUE BIRD? If you are, you won’t have to wait very long to see it. The film hits theaters next weekend on November 9. Click here for a list of participating theaters, and be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Feature Image Courtesy of Crunchyroll.

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