Liz and the Blue Bird

This movie is not really about Liz or a blue bird. In fact, both Liz and the blue bird are characters in a book, inside this story. Their roles are largely to act as metaphors for our two main characters, Mizore and Nozomi and their relationship as they struggle with feelings of impending distance forming between them as they move to college life.

Characters

In order to understand our two birds, we need to understand the book read inside the movie. Liz and the Blue Bird is a book that the main characters, Mizore and Nozomi, read. The book describes a lonely Liz being visited by Blue Bird who transforms from an actual blue bird to a girl. Weirder things have happened in anime. The story continues with both girls enjoying their time together, but something’s not quite right. Liz feels she is holding back Blue Bird and insists that she leave to fly free. The book has been converted to a concert band piece. This is where our main characters enter the equation.

Mizore is what I thought kids who played oboe would be like. She is shy, socially awkward, and obviously a lesbian. This is brought to you by orchestra gang. Mizore rarely speaks in the beginning of the movie, but develops into herself as the movie progresses in quite a satisfying way. Overall, I felt invested in Mizore and her development despite being largely unable to relate to her quiet personality. I wanted her to grow, I wanted her to shift out of the shadow of Nozomi, and I wanted her to find happiness by becoming Nozomi’s equal in her own eyes. I would by lying if I said I didn’t want them together at the end as well.

On the other hand, I found it hard to care about Nozomi. The flute section leader often came off as bland, a tad selfish, and unreliable. She was a main character enough that I felt like she was worth writing about, but not enough of a main character to feel fleshed out in any real describable sense.

As individual characters, the interest is not there. My main criticism of the characters is that there often wasn’t enough substance in their actions and words to be heavily invested in them. Part of the beauty of this movie however, is that these two together perform a unique duet of emotion for the viewer. This is where the heart of the movie is.

Special shout out to fed up library girl. Library books are for everyone. 3/6

Emotion

It’s time for a personal talk. There rarely is anything as painful as experiencing distance between you and someone you care deeply about. The realization that the path that you and a loved one share will quickly diverge is excruciating. Feelings like these are often untraceable but eat at the back of your mind. It poisons the relationship and makes people desperate or indifferent.

I felt the pain that Mizore felt when she watched Nozomi lead them down a path that looks like it splits. Even when Nozomi says that they will follow the same path, Mizore cannot trust her because she has said similar things before, untruthfully. Uncertainty was the poison that drove these two girls apart in the middle of the show and it was painful to watch. Most of this was facilitated by the dialog of other characters questioning what our, largely goalless, characters really wanted. Here, we see the emotional development of Mizore as the main proponent of saving the relationship between our two birds. We watch Mizore find the confidence to confront Nozomi and share how she feels as her intentions in life become more clear. This conversation is largely caused by a, quite needed, perspective shift on the Liz and the Blue Bird story given to Mizore by her woodwind instructor.

Originally, the girls agreed that their lives paralleled Liz and the Blue Bird, with Mizore being Liz and Nozomi being Blue Bird. The conversation with the woodwind instructor confirmed my suspicion that the roles could be reversed. While the movie builds up the metaphor for Mizore to be Liz, not wanting to let her little bird go, we suddenly see that Nozomi may be the one who wants to let Mizore fly with her musical skill and her personality. This shift seemed to unlock both girls to be confident in what they wanted from life and how they could interact with each other, but only after an emotional hugging scene where Mizore pours out her feelings for Nozomi. A scene that I both loved and hated because of Nozomi’s complete lack of appropriate reaction, furthering my belief that she is not a fleshed out character.

The ending of the story teases us with the knowledge that these two girls are working hard to get into their respective universities. The conversation with the woodwind instructor sits heavily on our mind, begging the question if the Blue Bird will come back to Liz after she has tasted the wind, or if some roads diverge for good. 6/6

Ideas

“I am so glad that this movie did not end on an event,” I exclaimed loudly to my friends, post movie. Unpopular opinion time, stop ending your shows and movies after an event. Stories can end on emotional events. The story could have easily ended after the band competition that was coming up, but chose not to. This was the right choice. The band concert would have paled in comparison to the emotional tone set by Mizore and Nozomi. Well done, writers.

Impending emotional distance is under-explored. These feelings are common for humans but so hard to set into a story and relate to an audience. Pairing this with the difficult story guide that is a story inside of a story and a complete role reversal made this story a feat of emotional bending and writing intelligence. 5/6

Pacing

I never once had an issue with pacing. The story flowed well and the metaphor opens in front of you like a flower on a warm morning. 4/4

Animation

I will make this short. This movie is the same art style as “A Silent Voice,” half the time. That art style is my absolute favorite. However, whenever Liz and Blue Bird are involved, the animation is different and I liked it less. Because of this, mixed marks. 3/4

The World

The world was completely self contained to the school grounds, oddly devoid of males. I felt no real want to explore the world and what it contains but was continuously satisfied with the details that were given to me. In an isolated world the details matter more. A couple stuck out to me, enough to mention.

The first was Mizore’s blue feather, used to clean reeds. Later in the story we are given the explanation that you can only buy white ones, yet another illusion to the overarching metaphor.

The second was the blowfish tank that was revisited several times as a pass time for Mizore. I think I missed a larger metaphor with the fish so I am now relegating them to the “fun world building” category. 2/3

Music

The music was amazing. It’s a concert band so obviously music is a show priority. Specifically the main interplay between the two characters through their lead parts and the progression of the duet as the movie progresses really took the cake. At the end of the day it’s music and music that receives full marks just needs to be heard. 3/3

CategoryPoints GivenPoints Possible
I am interested in the characters in the story36
I liked the emotion the story made me feel66
The story brings up interesting ideas56
I felt the pacing of the show was appropriate44
The animation in the show is beautiful34
I am interested in the world that the story takes place in23
I felt that the music added to the story in a meaningful way33
Overall Score

26/32

Watch the movie. It’s a really good movie. The characters really hurt the score and the art was amazing 91% of the time but the movie is up there with my favorites so it is 100% worth the watch. Watch out for my girl in the library.

Published by Marshal Brummel

Anime Amateur

One thought on “Liz and the Blue Bird

  1. Thanks for your sharing your thoughts on Liz and the Blue Bird, one of my favorite movies to date! Learning from your perspective makes me enjoy the movie even more and there were a couple times when I forcefully exhaled through my nose. I’m sure you know exactly when these were.

    This movie piqued my interest because being a part of a band was a big proponent of my life. What a simple way to walk into Liz and the Blue Bird. Blind. This was not a simple band movie though. The way it resonated with me was shocking. I’d like to share my thoughts and takeaways with you and anyone who reads this with the hopes that we can help each other uncover more of what this soft-spoken movie has to say.

    I’ll start with the relationship of Mizore and Nozomi and the analogy to Liz and the blue bird. I think you’re very right that both girls are Liz, and both are the blue bird. The friendship between these two opposite personalities is strained. This relationship is the world’s most difficult balancing act. The opening scene disjoint shows the two girls walking to their own tempo with an awkward space between them. This opening scene told me so much about their personalities. To me, this is because they care for each other so much that if one gravitates towards the other, it will make their separation even more painful. So, to protect this relationship, they don’t drift too close. On the other hand, they lean on the brakes, not to stray too far. Mizore hides her skill when it comes to the Oboe to be at a comparable playing level as Nozomi. While Nozomi quit band, but returned a year after, maybe due to some guilt for leaving Mizore. My interpretation of Liz and the Blue Bird is a story of how to nurture our friends rather than stunting their growth. By the end of the movie, our main characters understand each other and how to help the other grow.

    The side characters deserve a lot of credit, ESPECIALLY the pufferfish. These creatures puff out when they feel uncomfortable or in danger. This behavior in combination with the fish tank were what I thought were originally symbolizing Mizore’s isolation. But on the second watch through, I feel like the pufferfish were representing Nozomi all along. Nozomi quit band and left Mizore. I’m sure she holds deep feelings of guilt. That’s why in the scene where Mizore confesses to Nozomi, all she can do is dodge and hide. Her lack of a reaction was her puffing up, as was her harsh comment “I love your Oboe”. Each moment was defensive. Avoiding Mizore. However, Mizore doesn’t back away. During their embrace, I think Nozomi recognizes something. She doesn’t have to keep Mizore tethered as a musician. They can be friends regardless. She then laughs at how ridiculous she was acting. She brings down her defenses. Unpuffing.

    Every side character deserves a mention, but the next standout for me is Ririka, the younger Oboist. Ririka was a catalyst for Mizore to grow. Mizore had a suffocatingly small perspective of the band, her gaze only went towards Nozomi. Mizore’s existence in band was for Nozomi, no one else, and not the competition. Ririka changes this perspective. Progressively, Ririka gets closer to her senior Oboist, cracking Mizore’s shell. For Mizore, the act of teaching her junior opens her eyes to the legacy she has as she will soon be graduating. Her eyes are opened. Her existence is now longer exclusively for Nozomi. She invited friends to the pool, a move that surprised Nozomi. She picked up on other social groups such as the “Happy Ice Cream!” joke that she plays at the end of the movie. Mizore’s independence from Nozomi and her social growth is largely attributed to the Oboist who will do better on next year’s audition, Ririka.

    There’s so much to uncover from Liz and the Blue Bird, which is why I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts on this piece. I walked away from my first watch through with a life lesson when all I asked for was to scratch an itch for band! I enjoyed how the characters express so much more than their dialogue and I’m sure that I’ll notice more the next time I watch this.

    Liked by 2 people

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