ANTHEM OF THE HEART
(Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda)
Anthem of the Heart is a beautifully made film. Tatsuyuki Nagai opts for a traditional form of animation the ligne claire style favoured by Hayao Miyazaki and of characters with big round eyes. The joy of the film becomes evident from the opening scenes, which are drawn with a marvellous simplicity Jun going up to the hotel on the hill, which she imagines as a castle; seeing her father emerge and immediately interpreting it as a fantasy of a prince riding out of the castle with his princess, even though we can see the harsher reality; her immediately running to tell her mother who places some of the food she is preparing into Juns mouth, telling her to stop talking; and the cut to her father moving out, which he angrily blames on Jun talking too much. The economy in showing a marriage break-up in a mere handful of scenes is superbly skilful.
Thereafter, we jump to Jun in her teens as she becomes part of the Community Outreach Committee and their struggle/joys to put on the musical and especially how the groups various romantic longings and their mutual fears/hang-ups come to the fore. Tatsuyuki Nagai is wonderfully sensitive to the emotions and the film soars whenever he touches on these. The story of the film is about how Juns silence in fact ends up affecting everyone around her and this becomes a wider metaphor for the film, which is all about how characters dont speak to each other. The emotions engendered are sweet and tender.
From this, I was fully prepared to give Anthem of the Heart three-and-a-half, possibly four, stars. Unfortunately, when it comes to wrapping up the film, the strength of everything else falters. [PLOT SPOILERS]. The biggest weakness is that the emotional thrust of the film builds up through the friendship and attraction between Jun and Takumi and we expect this to blossom into romance only it doesnt. Instead, the story goes sideways and Takumi realises his attraction to the secondary character of Natsuki, leaving Jun hanging. At the end, the intolerant jock Daiki, who had earlier voiced his opposition to Juns inclusion, comes and admits feelings for her and the two walk off together. It leaves you with an uneasy feeling of true love thwarted and Jun having to settle for second place in an attraction that had not been given sufficient emotional groundwork to feel satisfying. The other letdown was the revelation that there was no egg and no curse, that the entire idea of Juns silence was in her head all along, which makes the case for Anthem of the Hearts inclusion here as fantastic material a borderline one at best.
Full film available online here:-