Liz and the Blue Bird Blu-ray Review


Finely Crafted Anime Spin-off To Sound! Euphonium

From the creators of A Silent Voice! comes a heart-felt and sincere drama set in high school. Liz and the Blue Bird is a delicate, mannered drama about the close friendship between two high school girls. As the girls ponder their next options in life after high school, their relationship comes under stress. Close companions in their school’s concert band as the lead oboe and flute players, their playing together becomes a symbolic metaphor for the relationship.

The emotionally absorbing tale is also a spin-off/sequel of sorts to the anime Sound! Euphonium. Liz and the Blue Bird’s two featured protagonists were supporting characters on that show. The movie stands completely on its own and works well as self-contained entertainment, in addition to being a fine supplement to Sound! Euphonium. It originally was adapted from the popular young adult novel series “Sound! Euphonium” by Ayano Takeda.

a thoughtful, absorbing yuri tale about the deep friendship between two school girls

The film was directed by Naoko Yamada with a screenplay by Reiko Yoshida. Character designs are handled by Futoshi Nishiya. The two main characters have fairly bland designs, being virtually indistinguishable if not for Nozomi’s ponytail. That may be intentional by the creative team making a statement on their personalities, so it’s hard criticizing their designs.

Best friends Mizore Yoroizuka and Nozomi Kasaki have to prepare a complex duet together in their high school concert band for one final performance before graduation. Liz and the Blue Bird is a musical piece with a duet for oboe and flute. Requiring tight coordination and harmony, Mizore’s fear of being separated from her dear friend Nozomi after high school threatens to wreak the performance.

The two friends couldn’t be more different in personality. Mizore is a shy and quiet student with few friends. Nozomi is outgoing and popular with everyone. The tender coming-of-age tale is constructed around their inevitable separation, mirrored by a fantasy narrative depicting the children’s fable of “Liz and the Blue Bird.” Much like the character Liz fears letting go of her beloved blue bird, Mizore is desperate to remain near Nozomi after graduation. The impending separation anxiety causes troubling uncertainty in their relationship and music.

Liz and The Blue Bird is a thoughtful, absorbing yuri tale about the deep friendship between two school girls going in different directions. It cleverly layers the memorable fantasy sequences into the drama between Mizore and Nozomi, working as a sophisticated metaphor for their relationship and musical playing. This isn’t slice-of-life anime but an emotional drama beautifully constructed for yuri fans.

Video

Liz and the Blue Bird has been lushly animated by Kyoto Animation. The impressive visuals have two distinct and contrasting modes. The storybook fantasy with Liz and her bird friend are gorgeously animated with painted backgrounds, clearly going for a more artistic aesthetic in the sub narrative. Brilliantly drawn with intricate layers of detail, the fairy tale scenes will make you wish they’d last longer. They recall Snow White and other older Disney classics.

The drama set in the high school is far more ordinary, resembling any number of modern anime programs set in high school. A hint of 3D CG animation is tossed in with the traditional animation to complement the high school scenes.

Shout Factory does a fine job with the uniformly strong Blu-ray presentation. The anime is blessed with finely shaded coloration and a pastel-like palette. Liz and the Blue Bird runs 90 minutes on a BD-25, encoded in excellent AVC at transparent parameters. The 1080P video is shown at its native 1.78:1 aspect ratio. There isn’t a hint of banding or chroma noise. The movie falls short of the best theatrical animation but certainly has some stunning PQ moments.

Audio

Japanese voice actresses Atsumi Tanezaki and Nao Toyama lend their talents to the roles of Mizore and Nozomi in the Japanese soundtrack. The English dub’s cast includes Laurie Hymes as Mizore Yoroizuka, Stephanie Sheh as Nozomi Kasaki, and Courtney Shaw as Liz. Shout Factory provides both the Japanese soundtrack and an English dub in flawlessly rendered 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio. Neither track are surround juggernauts. This is a contemplative drama constructed around the playing of an oboe and flute.

The sound design is exceptional. The quiet fall of footsteps, the subtle fingering of musical instruments like the flute – everything is heard in utterly realistic clarity. Mizore practically speaks in a whisper, which is part of her characterization. The musical pieces offer precise imaging and instrument separation, which is vital in a movie so connected to the musicianship of its protagonists.

Optional English SDH subtitles are provided for the English dub. An actual English translation of the Japanese dialogue is also provided in a second set of subtitles. They both appear in a white font and are completely optional. This is one case where the English dub takes few liberties with the Japanese dialogue. You aren’t missing any intent or meaning if you only hear the English dub.

Personally, I always go with the Japanese soundtrack when watching anime set in a Japanese school or with younger characters. This isn’t a bad English dub by any stretch and Laurie Hymes does a surprisingly capable job voicing the shy Mizore.

Extras

Liz and the Blue Bird comes with no special features. Shout Factory includes a slipcover for the Blu-ray and DVD combo package. The Blu-ray is coded for Region A.

Ordering directly from Shout’s own website includes an exclusive and unique piece of film strip from the movie.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us by the label for review. This has not affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Liz and the Blue Bird
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

A tender, coming-of-age yuri tale about two childhood friends told through the power of a striking music metaphor. The delicate, touching story weaves in a colorful children’s fable into its narrative with precision.

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