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Anime / Liz and the Blue Bird

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Nozomi & Mizore (in the background: Blue Bird and Liz)
Mizore Yoroizuka is a shy and withdrawn high school student at Kitauji High, who spends her days minding her own business while not interacting much with the other students. This changes when one day a girl named Nozomi Kasaki breaks through her solitude by asking her to join the high school's wind music club. Mizore is immediately taken by by Nozomi's outgoing and cheery personality, and soon finds herself playing the oboe, a difficult instrument for beginners, but one for which she appears to possess an extraordinary amount of talent. Mizore starts spending a lot of time trying to master her instrument, driven not only by her desire to become a better musician, but also as a way of connecting with Nozomi, to whom she becomes ever more emotionally attached as time passes.

Nozomi is quite proficient at the concert flute, and both girls find themselves preparing an oboe-flute duet in a tone poem based on the children's story "Liz and the Blue Bird," about a lonely girl named Liz who befriends a blue bird turned into a girl, and whom she has to goodbye to after a while of living together.

As Mizore and Nozomi try to get to grips with the work, they realize that their relationship resembles the one in the story, and soon they find themselves in the turmoil of trying to work out what music means to each of them, and especially what they mean to each other.

Liz and the Blue Bird is a movie directed by Naoko Yamada and released by Kyoto Animation to Japanese theaters in 2018. It is a spin-off of the popular series Sound! Euphonium, but it still functions as an independent work that can be enjoyed without prior knowledge of the original (although some of the in-jokes may be lost on the uninitiated). It wonderfully captures the emotional bustle of adolescence by linking it to the classical pieces played by the main characters, and the "Liz and the Blue Bird" shorts interspersed throughout the movie.


For character tropes on Nozomi and Mizore, see the Sound! Euphonium character sheet.

This movie provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Mizore. She is the only one of the girls who gets asked by a teacher if she is interested in studying music, much to Nozomi's dismay.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: The high-point of the movie is when Mizore demands an "I Love You Hug" from Nozomi in the aquarium room, after which she gives a speech that boils down to an awkward love confession.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Happy Ice Cream."
    • "I Love You Hug."
  • Art Shift: The animated interludes depicting the "Liz and the Blue Bird" story are in a very distinct style, reminiscent of an 80s anime or, indeed, children's book illustrations.
  • Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: Viewers who expect a yuri story may be disappointed about how the relationship between Mizore and Nozomi, deep and meaninful as it is, never quite seems to make the leap from subtext to text.
  • Advertisement:
  • Beta Couple: Kumiko and Reina are this to Nozmomi and Mizore, in a reversal from the main series.
  • Book-Ends: The film begins with Nozomi and Mizore walking into school together, and ends with them leaving school together. Everything else in the film is set inside the school (excluding the storybook sections).
  • Coming-of-Age Story: The main point of the movie.
  • Cry Cute: After a long period of struggling, Mizore finally manages to give a soaring performance, which causes Nozomi to tear up since she fears Mizore's talent will drive them apart.
  • Duet Bonding: Playing the oboe-flute duet from the titular music piece makes Mizore and Nozomi realize important things about their relationship.
  • Emotionless Girl: Mizore, to the point where other students find her cold and distant.
  • Genki Girl: Nozomi, especially in relation to Mizore.
  • Leitmotif: The duet's main motif is used in a lot of scenes of Mizore and Nozomi together. At one point it also gets played by Reina and Kumiko, which hints at the nature of their relationship.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Nozomi is this to Mizore, who sees herself as Liz with Nozomi as the blue bird who frees her of her loneliness. Later it appears that the roles are actually reversed, or that they are at least each other's blue bird.
  • Opposites Attract: Extroverted and cheery Nozomi forms a deep bond with the introverted and somewhat gloomy Mizore.
  • Plot-Based Voice Cancellation: At the very last moment when Nozomi and Mizore leave school, Nozomi faces Mizore and says something that makes Mizore turn all wide-eyed and blushing. Was it a confession? Who knows?
  • Real Place Background: Most of the movie takes place at the Sound! Euphonium school, which is based on an actual high school in Uji, a town near Kyoto where Kyoto Animation has its headquarters.
  • The Rival: Curiously, Nozomi confesses to see Mizore that way.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: This is is the main dynamic between Mizore and Nozomi, although there are hints that there may be more to it.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: While Nozomi and Mizore never quite make the leap, there are many hints that they are well on their way, especially considering Mizore's heart-felt confession to Nozomi in the aquarium room and Mizore's response to what seems to be a confession on Nozomi's part.
  • Show Within a Show: The shorts of the Liz and the Blue Bird story, although they are actually animated pages of the children's book used as the inspiration of the tone poem played by the wind music club.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Quite a few viewers see Mizore and Nozomi's relationship this way. The movie doesn't give a definitive answer, although there are hints that they may.

Example of: