LIZ AND THE BLUE BIRD: A Quiet Rumination on Friendship

Blu-ray combo pack now out from Shout! Factory and Eleven Arts Anime Studio

Liz and the Blue Bird moves at a pensive pace, spanning a school year in a friendship between two seniors in an all-girls high school. There’s an insular feeling to the animated work, which frames the story through scenes at the school. Only in the open and the closing scenes are the girls seen outside of the grounds.

Mizore is a talented clarinetist who hopes to play with her friend Nozomi in the competition band. The musical composition they will perform is titled “Liz and the Blue Bird,” about a doomed relationship between a young, lonely woman and the bird who cares enough for her to become human and befriend her.

Moments of this folktale are shown in between glimpses of the girls’ daily life, most of which center around band rehearsal. The animation styles differ between the story-within-a-story and the schoolhouse drama. The bits of Liz’s story are bright and look like a watercolor in times; the art of the scenes between the teen girls uses many cool tones, with pops of color.

This anime — in limited release in American theaters last year (I missed the few screening dates in Austin) but now available in a BluRay/DVD Combo pack from Shout! Factory — revels in quiet moments. The intensity of Mizore’s feelings towards Nozomi shows in the exquisite detail of the animation — in the flare of a skirt, a swing of a ponytail, fingers clasping the corner of a wall.

Liz and the Blue Bird revels in quiet moments, in anticipation of what may happen, or dwelling on a conversation that has occurred. The movie also celebrates the power of music. As Mizore becomes more assured and confident in her playing, the best friends start to grow apart. Will they grow completely out of sync?

Liz and the Blue Bird is gorgeous to watch, especially the high-def picture on this Blu-Ray release. I wish there were special features included… I would have liked to spend more time in the world and learn more about the filmmakers. Director Naoko Yamada and her crew delve into the intensity of friendship between girls and dwell on moments of everyday beauty.

Blu-Ray/DVD Combo pack now available from Shout! Factory (An original strip from the film is included, while supplies last).

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