The Joy Of Flying

Blue Thermal is a tranquil anime about the giddy thrill of flying plane gliders and their unique challenges. It’s primarily a movie of young college student Tamaki Tsuru’s struggles and triumphs, learning her craft in the aviation club and taking life head on. Taking inspiration from Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, Blue Thermal is at its best depicting Tamaki and her cohorts soaring the friendly skies in aircraft propelled without engines.

Adapted from a popular manga, which hasn’t been translated yet into English, Blue Thermal is a term meaning a wind that gives happiness. Tamaki Tsuru arrives in Tokyo as a new university student looking for a social life. Quite by accident she encounters the aviation club, a group which competitively races gliders with other universities across Japan. It is led by Jun Kuramochi, a senior member of the club who also happens to be Japan’s best pilot.

Blue Thermal is a tranquil anime about the giddy thrill of flying plane gliders

Taken high in the skies, Tamaki quickly finds a new passion in life. Jun takes Tamaki under his wing and discovers she has a remarkable talent for flying gliders. However, the senior is hiding a secret which could pull him away from the club.

The most interesting thing about Blue Thermal is Tamaki’s journey from awkward novice to trained pilot. There isn’t much to the narrative outside the aviation club’s business. Melodrama is largely confined to the personal lives of Tamaki and Jun with maybe a hint of romance as background. Blue Thermal mostly focuses on the thrills and challenges of flying gliders. It’s hard watching the movie without learning about gliders in the process.

Blue Thermal’s final act is a bit of a mess involving a missing glider and Tamaki ending up in Germany of all places. Already over 100 minutes in length, director Masaki Tachibana (Princess Principal) crams in a confusing resolution which solves everything at the expense of character development. The movie is no masterclass in pacing. Blue Thermal is often dry entertainment, a mostly feel-good story with few truly interesting characters. Clearly the lure of flying is the animation’s biggest feature, which mostly delivers.


The 1.78:1 video looks fine on a technical level, though the hand-drawn animation isn’t particularly special for theatrical anime. My guess is the budget wasn’t overly generous for a feature-length project.

Handled by Telecom Animation Film with character designs by Miho Tanino, Blue Thermal has a mildly retro sheen to its style from an earlier era. The 1080p video is at its best in the blue skies, soaring far above the clouds.

Anything related to the gliders is given extra attention and detail, while there’s a less artful approach to the slice-of-life drama. This is not expressive cel animation on the level of a Studio Ghibli or BONES. Black levels are clean but the palette is fairly simple, eschewing over-saturated primary colors. Motion and fluidity are rather pedestrian.

The main feature runs 103 minutes, encoded in AVC on a BD-50. No obvious banding and other compression anomalies are visible.


5.1 DTS-HD MA Japanese audio fills out a lightly immersive surround presentation. The dialogue-driven film has a few impressive sonic moments, especially during flight sequences. There’s a comfortable rear presence with panning cues and the occasionally discrete flurry of activity.

The film’s theme song “Blue Thermal” and the song “Beautiful Bird” are performed by the popular Japanese piano rock band SHE’S, heard in fine clarity and fidelity. The low-end isn’t excessively booming but provides the LFE channel some work.

Blue Thermal’s Japanese voice cast includes Mayu Hotta (Kaguya-sama: Love Is War 2019), Nobunaga Shimazaki (Summer Ghost), Junya Enoki (My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission), Mikako Komatsu (Jujutsu Kaisen 0), and Daisuke Ono (Batman Ninja), among others. I wasn’t blown away by Japanese actress Mayu Hotta as Tamaki in the lead role, I wonder if I would have liked Blue Thermal more with someone else in the role.

Optional English subtitles play in a white font, properly translating the Japanese dialogue. Secondary 2.0 DTS-HD MA Japanese audio is included.


Shout Factory distributes Blue Thermal for Eleven Arts. It’s a Blu-ray-only release (no DVD combo package) with limited bonus features. The BD is marked as Region A. A slipcover is available on early pressings.

Special Interview With Director Masaki Tachibana (07:44 in HD; Japanese audio w/ English subtitles) – Discusses the challenges of adapting a property from manga, fitting in the music, and a few of the animation highlights.

Blue Thermal Trailer (01:02 in HD)

Character Highlights – Brief clips showcasing each character’s personality and interests:

Tamaki Tsuru (00:58 in HD)

Jun Kuramochi (00:45 in HD)

Daisuke Sorachi (00:49 in HD)

Chizuru Yano (00:47 in HD)

Yo Asahina (00:38 in HD)

Full disclosure: This disc was provided by the label for review. This has not altered DoBlu’s editorial standards. For information how DoBlu handles all review material, please visit our about us page.

Blue Thermal
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


An occasionally captivating anime about college students flying gliders which needs a stronger landing.

User Review
4 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 39 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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