US Distributor: Eleven Arts
Production Studio: Kyoto Animation
Was this provided by the publisher? Yes
More Info: Anime Planet

In Liz and the Blue Bird (Liz to Aoi Tori), two girls learn that people come and go in your life and there’s no getting around that. Part of the Sound! Euphonium franchise, film’s story is presented two ways. In the main track, that is grounded in quiet realism. Mizore Yoroizuka and Nozomi Kasaki are spending their last year of high school together in the brass band. They eventually come to the realization that, no matter how close they are in the present moment, it doesn’t mean that they are going to be together forever. The second story presented, which is shown to be a story within a story, a young girl living alone in a fantasy village meets a spunky young girl, who turns out to be a magical blue bird that disappears at night.

Liz and the Blue Bird Production Still

Let’s skip the pleasantries and get right down to brass tacks, I did not like this film.

I tried to approach Liz and the Blue Bird in many different ways in my mind. But, no matter how I looked at it, this was a slow-moving piece that failed to capture my attention or imagination, regardless of what it did.

At first, I thought that it was because I am admittedly not a fan of the Sound! Euphonium franchise that this movie comes from. It’s more than that, though. While Kyoto Animation does a fantastic job of creating beautiful animation, that alone is not nearly enough to make non-fans care about these characters.

One big reason for this is that there are far too many scenes that are pushed forward by atmosphere, rather than dialogue. In the first few minutes, for instance, the two main girls come together for a practice session, which has very little dialogue. We are meant to piece together what the relationship between these two is, based on the little information that we’re given. There are many scenes like this throughout the film, which just put me to sleep. (Editor’s note: Literally.)

The only saving grace for Liz in the Blue Bird are the fantasy sequences, which pop up periodically as the girls look over the original source material from the music that their school’s brass band is playing: a book aptly titled Liz and the Blue Bird. If the majority of the movie had taken place within this world, this would be an entirely different review, filled with praise for the imaginative and beautiful universe that this particular story takes place in. As it is, though, the film is just a very pretty series of pictures that fail to make a compelling narrative.

Liz and the Blue Bird Production Still

Liz and the Blue Bird is worthy of your time only if you already care deeply about the Sound! Euphonium franchise. If you’re not already familiar with the franchise or don’t care about the original story, this is a movie that you can easily pass on, and sleep well at night knowing that you put the ninety or so minutes that you would’ve spent watching this movie to productive use.