Let’s talk. Let’s really talk for a bit. The topic? Well how about conversations? No, I am not trying to be funny here, I am really going somewhere with this. We have conversations every day. Unless of course you are stranded on some remote island with no one to talk to (although I hear a volleybal called Wilson could really help you out with that problem). Getting back to the topic of conversations. you have to admit that they make up a very big part of our lives. We talk to our friends, loved ones, parents, customers even total strangers. But now for a tough question. In how many of the conversations you have had were you totally honest? Ahhh…hard to say isn’t it? We all tell lies, and anyone who denies that is, well a big fat liar. But probably not all those lies were intentional. Sometimes you might tell a lie just to spare someones feelings. It’s the conversations where you have said something hurtful that you can’t take back though, that most of us will probably remember the most. A slip of the tongue or an intentional comment with the sole purpose of causing pain, I guess it’s safe to say we have all been there at some point. A moment where you kick yourself for saying something so stupid, or wish you could take it back. It’s the conversations where you don’t even realise that you are causing pain that might be the worst though.
And this last thing is exactly what happens to the young child Jun Naruse in the animated movie the Anthem of the Heart. Jun has always been a chatterbox. She is very cheerful and is always happily talking about pretty much anything that is on her mind. One day she comes home and tells her mother how she saw her father doing something that to her young childlike mind was pretty awesome. Her mother freezes though, and eventually this innocent remark results in her parents getting a divorce. Even worse her father puts all the blame on her. Jun runs away in tears, and while she tries to work through her grief a fairy egg appears. It makes sure that all of Jun’s words are sealed away so that she can never cause hurt to anyone ever again. Years later we meet up again with Jun when she is in highschool. She is but a shell of her former self. Jun is unable to speak, and tries to stay of the radar in class. But then her teacher, mister Jōshima invites her to become a member of the Charity Committee together with three other classmates. Naturally she is not at all happy about this, especially since it seems that they are going to have to prepare for a musical piece. But just when she is about to quit, something happens that changes her mind. Or beter yet someone. Will Jun find the courage to regain her voice?
Now admit it: you read the synopsis of the film and were thinking something along the lines of ” Wow this sounds incredibly boring”. When I tell you that the runtime of this film is two hours I can almost hear the gears grinding in your head already and crossing this movie of your to watch list. You would miss out on something quite special though. This is one of those films that has a very simple story, but turns into something quite extraordinary. And here’s some of the reasons why (erm, no not going to give you 13 of them I am afraid). For one thing it’s the wonderful characters. Jun herself is hard not to like. Since she is at the center of the films, and this is pretty much her story it’s important to have a lead that you care about it. And you do. Jun’s journey of rediscovery and trying to forgive herself is fascinating to watch. At times you want to kick her, and even hate her for some of the things she does in this film. At the same time though, you can understand what drives her, and how incredibly vulnerable she is. The supporting cast is equally important to the story and just as enjoyable to watch as Jun herself. Why? Because they are really human. All of them are not perfect and have their own insecurities and flaws.
I love it when there are characters in a film that are not just there because it’s necessary for them to appear at a certain point, but just have depth and things you can relate to. It’s hard to make a story like this interesting to watch, especially considering the fact that this is a two hour movie that is filled with dialogue and a lot of music. But it succeeds in doing that. The intricate relationships between all of the characters and the way that basically they support each other’s flaws is the heart of what makes this movie work so well. As this is in part a musical as well, you will find sections of the film that are filled with music. But not the typical music that you normally find in anime films. Songs like “Over the Rainbow” and ” Around the World” give this film an extra special touch and just simply work very well, and don’t feel out of place at all. The animation style and level of detail is great too. It’s one of those films that has an almost dreamlike quality to it, and unless you are a very cynical person that doesn’t see beauty in anything, it’s almost impossible to not get touched by it.
But that strength is also at the same time it’s weakness. If you are someone who likes their films tense, filled with action and a breakneck pace, then I’m sorry to say that you are not going to be finding that anywhere in this film. What you are going to find though is a movie that has it’s title very well chosen. It will touch your heart and fill you with emotion while at the same time giving you a wonderful feel good feeling. If I were to make a comparison to something that has as a similar feel to Anthem of the Heart it would be Your lie in April. And I don’t think I could hand out a better compliment to this movie than that last one. While I would not call this film a masterpiece or classic, it does come very close. It’s a wonderful film that turns something simple into a very powerful piece of storytelling. It will also make you ask an important question: When is telling the truth something that might not be the best thing to do? I haven’t yet discovered the answer to that one. If you have, be sure to let me know!
I give The Anthem of the Heart a 9 out of 10 score.