- Titles: Liz et l’Oiseau bleu, Liz to Aoi Tori
- Genre: Drama, music, school
- Length: 1 hour, 30 mins
- Studio: Kyoto Animation
Mizore loves music. She plays the oboe in the school’s concert band. She’s probably going to go on to attend a music college. She loves playing an instrument. At least she thinks so. Kind of. But really, the thing Mizore actually loves the most is Nozomi. After all, Nozomi is the one who invited her to join the band in the first place. Nozomi is the bright shining light that Mizore has been following all this time. And now, Nozomi and Mizore are going to play a special duet during the band’s next competition. Liz and the Blue Bird is a beautiful piece of music based on an old and slightly sad fairy tail about deep friendship. And the climax is a wonderful setpiece fr the flute and oboe. It’s perfect for Mizore and Nozomi. It should be. But why does it keep sounding wrong?
All I knew about Liz and the Bleu Bird is that it was somehow related to Sound! Euphonium. I wasn’t entirely sure how. Mizore and Nozomi aren’t exactly important characters in that show. However, I was a fan of Sound! Euphonium. It’s an anime I’ve often described simply as lovely. I had faith that this movie would follow suit.
I decided t watch Liz and the Blue Bird on a Saturday. Earlier that same week, I had just watched the first episode of the second season of Tsurune. This is relevant because both are Kyoto Animation offerings. Tsurune had reminded me how much I love the studio’s visuals and that’s part of the reason I had this sudden urge to watch Liz and the Bleu Bird now. I had high expectations for this movie and… I was not let down.
The thing about Kyoto is that they draw very pretty characters. So full of details that you can see individual strands of hair and clothing folds with every movement. It’s impressive. And it tends to overshadow the rest of the production. The visual designs and consistency with which they are rendered are both absolutely beautiful and you should watch the movie just for that if you like the art of anime. But they are just one part of an overall masterful production.
Another thing Kyoto does very well is light. They know how to make shadows dance and bring out interesting reliefs through the use of animated light. If anything I would say Liz and the Blue Bird is actually not a great example of this but the scenes at dusk were all striking to me.
Then there is colour. I talk a lot about colour. Every episode of Beyond the Boundary is titled with a colour and I have been wanting to write a post on that for years, I just never seem to have time to do the proper research. In Liz and the Bleu Bird, the only colour that matters is Blue. There is a lot of blue in this movie. It is symbolic after all. The colour is used in a straightforward way. The feather, the girls’ uniform, little accessories here and there. But there’s also a blue colour wash over the entire image, like a blue lens, that’s used in moments when Mizore is feeling particularly alone or lost. It’s subtle but if you pay attention you will definitely see it.
On top of that, there are quirks. In the opening scenes, we see the library and there’s a shelf on which all the books are blue. We see the library many times after that but e never see that concentration of blue books again. There are little scenes like that throughout. Would have to watch the movie again to see if they are matched up with anything specific or just visual flourishes.
Finally, there’s the sound design. I think I’ve been sleeping on Kyoto’s use of sound. Of course, I noticed the beautiful orchestral piece in Sound Euphonium but hey, that was an anime that was all about playing in an orchestra. Obviously, it would have nice music. But it’s more than that. I just realized with the second season of Tsurune that Kyoto actually pays close attention to sound design.
And you can clearly hear it in Liz and the Blue Bird as well. The movie is often very quiet with only tiny atmospheric noises coming through. The sound of lone instruments practicing swells and gets lost in the cacophony of the entire orchestra. You can close your eyes and hear this story quite well. There’s a rhythm to it.
Unfortunately, I don’t know if this is due to my connection or a screw-up on Crunchyroll’s part but about halfway through the movie the subtitles became offset from the images and sound. I tried to watch it like that for a while (as well as many things to fix it) but in the end, I just gave up and switched to the dub of Liz and the Blue Bird. It’s telling that after a few minutes of adjustment, I stopped noticing.
Story & Characters
Some of you know that I also played in my school’s band when I was younger. When I was in high school, attended a relatively small all-girls school and we didn’t have an orchestra band. Instead, a few of the local schools banded together and we would practice in the large gymnasium with students from 4 different schools. Some were from the all-boys school next door.
I started out with French Horn which I really love. I still enjoy playing it but I’m not very good. My lips were simply not suited for the mouthpiece and it would actually become painful to play at times. I was switched over to the Euphonium and put way back with the other big brass instruments. I was the only girl there. In fact, aside from one girl who played the trumpet and an amazing saxophone player (I know it’s technically a woodwind but she sat with us) the brass section was entirely guys.
All the girls played the more “delicate” instruments. And all the really pretty and popular girls played the flute. I don’t know why. Maybe it was all in my head. But they seemed like magical creatures to me. Elves or something. And they created those soft lyrical sounds. The boys would crowd around them after practice and stumble over their words. I felt out of place with those girls even though they were all very nice. But I wanted to be their friend, with my huge clunky Euphonium. If you can understand that, you’ll probably get Liz and the Blue Bird.
Like I said, Liz and the Blue Bird is part of the Sound!Euphonium franchise which I find lovely. It’s a side story that follows two relatively minor characters but it is happening alongside the main plot and we see the well-known faces make cameos. You don’t need to have watched Sound!Euphonium to enjoy and understand Liz and the Bleu Bird. However, it is very much the same vibe. So if you liked one, you will likely like the other… except if you’re me.
Ok, that’s not entirely true. I did like Liz and the Blue Bird. Thought it was a nice little movie with sweet characters and absolutely gorgeous to look at. I would recommend it and I’m glad I watched it. However, I didn’t like it anywhere near as much as I liked Sound!Euphonium and I was at a loss as to why.
At first, I thought it might be due to the fact that Liz and the Blue Bird does get dramatic. These girls have feeeeelings. But Sound!Euphonium got dramatic as well. Moreso even. Maybe, I thought, it’s because I had a lot more time to get used to the characters and the story of Euphonium but again, even though Liz is only a 90-minute movie, I’m going into it with two seasons of the show it’s based on under my belt. I’m already familiar with this world and the movie is a perfect continuation of the series.
It took me a while to figure it out because it’s very counterintuitive. I think MY personal problem was Mizore. But the thing is, I really like Mizore. The oboe is my absolute favourite instrument. The second is the bassoon. I have a thing for double reeds. And Mizore is one of those characters that really embodies this sense of loveliness I was so drawn to. It’s just that as a main character, I prefer Kumiko.
And this is not to say that I like Kumiko more as a character. She’s confusing and occasionally selfish and a little quick to give up. But I relate to Kumiko. She can be a little messy and clumsy and forceful. And for me, that moved the story along in a more dynamic way which I enjoyed. Mizore is so beautifully fragile that I was scared she would just fall apart or scatter like sakura petals in the wind. Everything in Liz and the Blue Bird felt hesitant and uncertain. This is definitely what the story was going for and they accomplished it in a big way. I’m just too boorish to really appreciate it.
Also the movie could have used a few more laughs.
This was a very personal review of Liz and the Blue Bird. It’s not really applicable to most viewers. But I think Liz and the Blue Bird is a very personal experience as far as movies go. Everyone is going to take something a little different from it. Heck, I’m sure that if I watch it again in a different mod, I will also come away with a different experience. It’s a little ephemeral and unsteady.
But one thing I can say for certain is that it’s a beautiful movie with some really great music. And you know, at the end of the day, it’s quite lovely.
You might like this anime if:
You enjoy slow introspective movies filled with music and stunning visuals.
My favourite character:
Hmmm, Ririka, she seems nice.
a Blue Bird obviously
- Every time we see a bluebird or feather – take a sip
- Every time we see a swishing ponytail – take a sip
- Every time we see the Liz and the Bluee Bird book – ohhhh
- Every time an instrument gets assembled or disassembled – pay attention
- Every time anyone says “Liz” – raise your glass
- Every time Ririka tries to be friends with Mizore – awwww
- Every time Mizore fiddles with her hair – take a sip
- Every time the entire orchestra practices together – clap
- Every time we see the cute little blowfish – take a sip
- Every time characters hug – hug someone
- Every time we see the grumpy student librarian – hide
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.
16 thoughts on “Liz and the Blue Bird – Quiet Symphony”
I caught it while a server was streaming it because I was region locked out of it on Crunchyroll (its connection to Euphonium be damned). Since my musical background is with the piano, I thought it was a bit of a snorefest I stayed up through and couldn’t connect with it personally (plus if you interpret it to be female/female romantic subtext – which I did for the storybook’s storyline, but not for the “real life” storyline – I can’t connect to that either because I don’t experience romantic/sexual attraction to women), even though it looked and sounded great.
I saw the movie a while ago and blogged on it. I thought it was simply stunning. Cemented my love of yuri.
It is really a story on a story in a story. There’s the story book. Wrapped around this book is the musical fantasy. (Any musical piece that tells a story is a “fantasy.”) Wrapped around the music is the main story, which is a real life variation on the story book. The art had a delicacy to it. Lots of Dutch angles. Done f-ing brilliantly, I thought. And I loved the low key delivery and slow pace.
I eventually went back to “Sound! Euphonium” and completed the anime. It got better with time but It never felt as perfect as L&TBB.
I’m always amazed at how many people see this franchise as Yuri.
I saw Liz and the Bluebird once – and not quite legitimately – quite a while ago but have not been able to see it since because of – apparently – licensing issues. I really liked it and thought it a great example of how anime can – at its best – make a quality product through a variation to an existing theme. So I was excited when Crunchyroll announced in December that it would be part of a slew of anime features it would be showing over the Christmas/New Year period. But, no – not, apparently, for Australian audiences! 😫
I didn’t even know Crunchy had region locked libraries
Apparently it’s about license ownership rather than Crunchyroll policy per se…buut, yes, net effect is that no LATBB for me…
That said, I noted a number of requests from folks on their social media feed asking when it and the other advertised features would be available “outside North America”, but there was no response that I could see…
I haven’t seen this film yet, even though I know about it for a long time now and I really liked Euphonium. One of these days…
Also, I do really like the sound of the oboe. It’s especially great for carrying a more melancholy melody.
There was an old Poirot series with intro played on the oboe. Great op!
Should be sooner rather than later Dawn… It’s the peak of the franchise.
I have some similar thoughts about instruments. Especially French Horn, I’m amazed people are able to play it because it is such a hard instrument to think about and figure out. I’ve tried it a few times and it is definitely a complicated instrument, but a very noble one too. Yeah, I also love the sound of double reeds, but I feel like my favorite instrument has been the bari saxophone. I just love the sound o it and it adds so much when you can hear it.
And yeah, I love the softness of this drama even if it can be hard to think about sometimes.
Old band members probably appriciate Sound! and Liz in a different way.
Sounds like something I might like to check out! Chloe too, I’m sure.
It’s an extrmely slow paced movie but there’s something pretty about the stillness, I think.