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.
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.
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…
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!