Fantastic film. Narratively its not particularly innovative or anything but the strength of this series isnt narrative innovation its in how the feelings of the characters are expressed. Nozomis passion and frustration are very real and visceral and wonderfully expressed thanks both to the excellent direction theres a scene with two characters crying on a raindrenched soccer pitch thats fantastic and of course Miyuri Shimabukuros fantastic performance as Nozomi which manages to be brash and subtle at the same time. Apart from a couple comments from her teammates and a very funny scene at the end of the film the film doesnt try to shoehorn in any romance which is smart. Like Nozomi herself the focus should be soccer though Sawa is completely in love with Nozomi dont me. The TV series that serves as a sequel to this film looks like absolute ass just as the women in the series are struggling for resources and recognition so ironically is the TV production. This film on the other hand IS a step up from the TV series in terms of its production value unfortunately that just places it on the level of a slightly aboveaverage TV production rather than what you might hope to see from a feature film. This isnt exactly Kyoto Animation. That said its a pleasure to watch there are some lovely lighting and shadow effects and the animation is mostly smooth and natural. The fact that director Seiki Takuno can make the TV series as visually compelling as it is even with what little resources they seem to have speaks to their skills as a director and so seeing them work with some ACTUAL resources here is a treat. The big sweeping CG shots are pretty great also even if you sometimes catch a glimpse of someones face and its horrifying earlyera LOVE LIVE deadness. But it gives a scope and an energy to the matches that is unfortunately lacking in the TV series. The matches there are welldirected but theyre often kneecapped by an overabundance of single frame shots and jerky closeups. Here Takuno can stretch their directing chops a little and the soccer matches really sing. Anyway obviously I really liked this film. Its a prequel so even if youre not watching/have no interest in the TV series I heartily recommend it. And if you were turned off by the TV shows poor production values then heres a good chance to get a taste of the excellent writing acting and direction with some actually good animation if you were turned off by the ugly art style and the fish lips well shikataganai. theres also a fun postcredits scene with cameos from the TV series though if youve been watching the TV series that scene was already spoiled. Thanks COVID.
80 /100
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