Review: Anthem of the Heart
Director – Tatsuyuki Nagal
Screenplay – Mari Okada
Studio – A-1 Pictures
Distributor – Aniplex
Jun is a happy chatty little girl who believes in fairy tales, knights and castles and that one day she will meet her prince and live in a castle high up on a hill. After witnessing and misinterpreting an event early in her life and sharing it with her family her world is torn asunder. Her family falls apart and the blame is shouldered by her, an egg fairy appears to her and seals away her ability to speak to ensure that she can never hurt anyone else or herself again.
The paragraph above is the first few mins of the movie and as absurd as it sounds it plays an important part in the life of one of our main protagonists and her ability to function with her classmates. We see a quiet withdrawn girl who is unable to communicate using normal methods and the judgement and assumptions made about her by the people around her.
As the tale progresses we are introduced to her classmates, many of whom become important parts to the story and her life. Takumi becomes her first real friend and unwitting love interest, Natsuki, the best friend she never had and Daiki, the class jock who takes everything a little too seriously. The group form a bond and as the film progresses we witness the growth of each of them including Jun herself. All of the key players are nominated to begin a musical project for the Community Outreach council and each of them unwilling at first to take part start on a journey of discovery that will change them all forever.
The story itself is a very thoughtful slice of life drama which for the most part does not take itself too seriously and is both light hearted and a joy to watch. The story does explore lightly mental health issues and how we as humans cope with events that could literally shatter us to our core, everyone is different and thus display hurt and pain in various ways. This story is not the typical happy love story that will leave you fuzzy and warm inside, it’s the kind that ends with a conclusion that will satisfy but will likely cause the viewer to draw a tear or two. It’s an honest and smart movie that takes a lot of popular tropes from the genre and drops them on their head, it is never heavy handed in its approach to love and friendship and at the conclusion you definitely feel better having seen it.
Anthem of the Heart is nearly 2 hours long but it never overstays its welcome, it tugs at the viewer’s heartstrings by generating interesting and believable characters who are presented to us as stereotypes at first glance but shed that hollow shell almost instantly. The incidental music is used effectively and adds to the overall atmosphere precisely when required, often heightening an emotional scene. The animation is smooth and the colours vibrant, visually and audibly this is an incredibly well made movie.
I was pleasantly surprised by just how much this movie touched me, it carries a sincere and heartfelt message to its audience that is hard to ignore. Solid narrative with fully realised characters is a difficult thing to pull off yet for the nearly 2 hour feature I was immersed in the world created around me only stopping to blink once the end credits began to roll.
I have included the trailer below: