Movie Review: Liz to Aoi Tori

liz to aoi tori anime movie hibike euphonium

After finding myself missing and yearning for more of one of my all-time favorite queerbaiting masterpieces, namely Hibike! Euphonium, it was time for yet another piece and more orchestral drama, this time focusing on another set of lovers characters from the Kitauji High School music club.

Year: 2018
Length: 90 Minutes
Genre: Drama, Music, Romance (?), School
Studio: Kyoto Animation

Synopsis: Mizore Yoroizuka and Nozomi Kasaki are two close friends who are part of the Kitauji High School music club. Quiet and reserved Yoroizuka plays the oboe while lively and popular Kasaki plays the flute. The group has decided to play Liz and the Blue Bird, a song inspired on a fairy tale about the relationship between a girl and a bird. The musical piece puts both Mizore and Nozomi on the spotlight due to a solo part by Yoroizuka and forces the two girls to reexamine their friendship.

We’re more or less thrown right into the story without any information given on the characters. Well, we’re supposed to already know them from the anime, and quite frankly, while the new stars of this piece might not have taken the lead a lot in the past, it’s still hard not to recognize these two. Needless to say, a short explanation on these characters would have been welcome, but it definitely wasn’t necessary. Thus, it’s also not so surprising that their dynamic didn’t change in the slightest. Mizore is still as quiet and shy as ever, while Nozomi is bubbly, happy, and friendly with basically everyone, especially so with Mizore.

Now what makes this movie special is how the plot revolves around a musical piece, Liz and the Blue Bird, that is intertwined with the story, showing us bits and pieces of the musical piece and letting us figure out on our own how this reflects, but also affects, the two main characters. I honestly felt as if a Ghibli work was cut in whenever the story of Liz and the Blue Bird popped up, showing us these bright colors and such unique, yet familiar-looking characters that really just feel like they were taken right out of the next Ghibli movie.

liz to aoi tori anime movie hibike euphonium

The story in general is rather linear, with no big drama and a clear focus on the characters and how they deal with and face their problems. I was actually surprised to see just how little drama this one packed. It almost felt like there was something missing at first, but I slowly realized that this more peaceful and even uneventful plot was the perfect stage for these two characters to shine. This is actually proof that even without a high amount of drama, a story can still have a big impact and actually indulge you a lot more than any story with the conventional amount of tension and drama could. It was a truly beautiful journey, but even so, there are some aspects that were lacking in my eyes.

I for one would have loved to get a deeper look into the characters, especially when it comes to Mizore. She is already the quiet type, not letting a lot of emotions show on her face, nor expressing them in many other ways. Needless to say, she mostly seemed sad or uninterested, even when everything seemed to suggest otherwise. I actually would have loved to have heard her thoughts more, either by literally hearing them as an inner monologue, or as her talking to herself about what’s on her mind when she’s alone.

Next up, I was also a little sad to see that not that many other characters played a big part in this movie. Since we already know quite a few of them from the anime, it would have been easy to implement them as important elements of the movie without having to explain a lot about the character or motive. Nonetheless, only a few actually played a bigger role than just dropping a few lines to nudge the story into a certain direction. Then again, I can see how this fixed focus on only two characters was actually a fitting move for the given story. Personally, however, especially since Mizore is a rather gloomy and quiet character, Nozomi alone was often not enough to lighten the mood. Ah, how I wish Asuka was still around…

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Regarding the yuri of this movie, there’s quite a bit we can say here. First up, seeing that this is yet another work by our favorite queerbaiting anime studio, Kyoto Animation, we can of course expect quite a lot on this front. And let me just tell you, this movie literally oozes subtext to the point where I’m not even sure if it actually still qualifies as subtext anymore. A quick check on MAL and other related websites though show no trace of yuri or even subtext in their descriptions and genre lists.

Now, this begs the question: What kind of genre is this? Some might say that this is the summit queerbaiting can reach – any more and it would all tip over. Others on the other hand, might, rightfully so, call this a full-blown love story. While there is no kiss, no clear declaration of love, and no hint of “romance” in the genre list of this movie, to me this still undeniably is no more and no less. Nozomi and Mizore don’t need to kiss, and they don’t need to yell out their love. Their actions, especially those of Mizore, already speak for themselves. She can’t bear being alone. She can’t help but list the many things she loves about Nozomi, and there is no way she can do anything else but stay close and admire what she loves. The story of Liz and the Blue Bird helps make this romance even more apparent, as the love story between them is an obvious allegory for the love that is blooming, yet also, at the risk of falling apart for Nozomi and Mizore.

Now, I would have loved to have seen a kiss. I would have loved to have seen them tell each other they are in love, and I would have loved to have seen their romance blossom some more. But in the end, even though they more or less already confessed their love in a (queerbaiting) way, this feels like the beginning of a relationship, and it pains me quite a bit to see the movie cutting off so abruptly. Not only did it feel as if they couldn’t fully work out their problem, we also don’t know if they will actually stay together after high school. This could either mean we will see more of them in the near future, or well, the writers just wanted to leave us in the dark about it.

And even more importantly, what the hell happened in that last scene?! What is Mizore so surprised about? Did Nozomi suddenly confess? Did she maybe swiftly flash Mizore or was she going in for another Love-Hug™? I hope we’ll find out in quite a few upcoming doujinshi or a continuation of their story, either in movie or anime form!

Nekomura is already at it, it seems. Gotta love this artist~

Story: 8
Characters: 8
Animation: 9.5
Sound: 8
Total Enjoyment: 8.5


12 thoughts on “Movie Review: Liz to Aoi Tori

  1. Oh oooh what is this smell? Ah its our old buddy – Class S. Seriously this work smells like it took a long bath in it. The cherry on top is the ending which is so Class S it actually hurts. Really it should have tats of girls with interlaced fingers just close enough together that a kiss would be REALLY easy but they aren’t doing it because Class S is a trixty tammy and -totally not gay- seriously. Only if she DID have tats they wouldn’t let her into the bath house because Yakuza.

    Look what I’m saying is we need a yakuza crime thriller with an all lesbian cast. Tattoos, Blunt weapons, and guns people angst over but never fire.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, been a fan of yurireviews for a year now and this is my first time commenting. As a huge fan of all things yuri related I am also a fan of Hibiki Euphonium and KyoAni (was already becoming a big fan of Euphonium before I realized the strong yuri undertones of Kumiko and Reina), but I do have to say I feel like this review in particular missed the mark in a variety of ways. I believe that opening sequence of Liz to Aoi Tori says a lot (without words) and for an explanation to be added to explain the relationship between our two heroines would have taken away from that. I believe the film can be fully enjoyed and understood without having to watch Hibiki Euphonium (although it makes it easier to pick things up faster). Lastly, Mizore’s love for Nozomi is romantic (cannon btw) and I believe Nozomi knows this (conjecture) and this only adds to the complicated relationship between these two.

    I just wanted to add my two cents in the comments to this review. I am not trying to rain on your review, because I quite enjoy your reviews and think they are well written/thought out. Keep up the good work here and I may be a more active commenter as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey there and nice to see you commenting 🙂
      I think you’re right, this movie works without needing this specific explanation, and maybe it’s even more enjoyable that way.
      Though, knowing KyoAni, it’s still so frustrating to see stuff like that happen over and over again without a proper, let’s call it “revelation”.
      I demand some proper confessions! 😀


  3. Well, it is KyoAni, so we all kind of know what to expect more or less. I was seriously anxious going into it, as you just don’t know if they are going to pull the rug out from under you or not. It’s kind of sad that I almost want the baiting to continue, cause the alternative seems so much worse. 😦

    Still with goggles firmly in place I gave it a watch and really enjoyed it! There were so many subtle elements that just made it wonderful 😀
    I really liked how different is was from the main stories. The pacing was slower, and it had such a somber tone, but well, this is Mizore’s story, so it only seems fitting for it to resemble her.
    It really drives home how into each other they both are. Especially Mizore, who almost reminded me of a duckling that imprinted herself on Nozomi, always following her, mesmerized by her back and dancing pony tail. Also how Mizore was like Liz on the outside and the blue bird on the inside, while Nozomi was the exact opposite (I think this made the role reversal at the end work so well). Back and forth they go, each ensnaring and caging the other, driven by their own selfish desires. It was so bittersweet and beautiful at the same time.
    To me it was yuri, plain and simple. 😛

    As for the end…well, maybe Mizore saw Truck-kun in the distance. Euphonium becomes a yuri isekai?
    But if I were to make a wild guess, maybe Nozomi gave Mizore a sincere smile for once? She is so guarded and calculating, could she have dropped her mask for an instant, a sight only for Mizore to see?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh god shade, I can’t stop thinking about Mizore in a duck costume now!
      This is such a perfect picture you painted for us there, I really can’t help but picture how cute she would look quickly following mama duck Nozomi.
      I kind of want someone to draw this now…. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Just saw this movie! Really enjoyed reading your thoughts.

    I felt that the movie did a great job establishing mood and tone using similar and vastly different tools from the Euphonium TV series.
    It pushed me right back to the place of senior year of high school when I was thinking about my future (or rather trying to think of anything but). High school was such a great time and my friends were such a big part of it so I can relate to not wanting to give any of that up.

    To that point the depiction of the different types of communication between a shy introvert and her friends, both new and old, was really fascinating. While watching the second season of the TV show I thought Nozomi and Mizore were a great tragic couple that were able to repair their relationship. But the movie really made me reevaluate my thoughts as it showed how debilitating Mizore’s codependency still was a year later. To me the movie was able to show how accepting yourself and finding more outside interests (or friends) makes you a more grown up and complete person. And only then can you really start having healthy relationships with those that are closest to you.

    I agreed with your assessment that the movie at the end was showing the beginning of a deeper relationship but it is really frustrating that they didn’t make it official. As a straight guy that enjoys romance stories, I’m still learning that viewers that look to find representations in their favorite stories find queerbaiting harmful and a huge let down. At first I chalked a lot of previous examples to Japan’s more reserved and conservative approach to intimate relationships. I thought viewers would have to make inferences because with all the poetic and emotionally charged imagery, the content wouldn’t have to make pairings “official”. But now I know that isn’t always the case and I’m trying to stay educated going forward.


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