When I first heard that A1 Pictures would be releasing an original film project in 2015 my interest was piqued. When I heard that this project was going to be an original story from the creators and crew of one of my alltime favorite shows the 2012 teen drama Anohanahttps://anilist.co/anime/9989/AnoHiMitaHananoNamaewoBokutachiwaMadaShiranai I was overjoyed. Now almost 2 years down the line from its original release in Japan I have finally had a chance to watch the film and I can now give my verdict. Did Anthem of the Heart manage to meet/surpass the standards set by its predecessor? No Is Anthem of the Heart a good film? Kind of Was Anthem of the Heart inferior in terms of story or characters then? No not really 1000http://i.ur.com/RjR9Yuo.jpg The Good Before I get into where I think this film failed I first want to make it clear that I would definitely recommend watching Anthem of the Heart especially for those in their teens or if youre partial to coming of age stories. The film presents a well told heartfelt story about overcoming trauma and anxieties alongside the usual themes of romance misunderstandings and heartache found in these films. Its headed up by a diverse and likable main cast which while fitting firmly within the tropes of both its own genre and anime in general do more than enough to elevate themselves beyond cookie cutter stereotypes to characters we can recognise and empathise with. The relationships these characters share with one another feel organic and natural avoiding the contrivances of many of their contemporaries with a special mention going to the relationship between the semimute lead Jun and her mother. Beyond the story elements the sound track is a good fit while it wont have you coming back again and again it does a solid job of complementing the story its trying to tell. In a similar the vein the quality of animation is as you would expect from a feature piece with brief moments of visual flair working in the films favour if never being all that breath taking. 1000http://i.ur.com/7Lnwdts.png So what exactly is it thats holding this film back from greatness? Well In my opinion its the very fact that its a film to begin with. Let me explain when looking at the two driving creative forces behind this project you have director Tatsuyuki Nagaihttps://anilist.co/staff/103539/TatsuyukiNagai and prolific writer Mari Okadahttps://anilist.co/staff/100978/MariOkada both have been involved in a number a successful projects over recent years and had previously teamed up to not only to work together on creating Anohana but also when adapting another muchloved work Toradorahttps://anilist.co/anime/4224/Toradora the dream team it would seem then. But on closer examination of both their credits you quickly notice that neither has any experience with stand alone feature films. While it is true both had worked together on the 2013 theatrical release of Anohana and Okada wrote the screenplay for Hanasaku Iroha: HOME SWEET HOMEhttps://anilist.co/anime/14175/HanasakuIrohaHOMESWEETHOME the previous was in essence a compilation film of the existing story and animation while the latter was the continuation of a story and cast the viewer was already expected to be invested in neither of these films existed within the same vacuum that Anthem of the Heart does. 1000http://i.ur.com/VildbvY.png So why does this matter? The issue here being is that ultimately the end product is a film that feels like it should have been a short 12episode TV show or a maybe a series of OVAs the kind of material these two usually put out. Without going into spoiler territory many areas feel under developed. The entire character of DaikiTasakihttps://anilist.co/character/88945/DaikiTasaki the schools baseball ace felt rushed and as a result his relationships with the rest of the main cast underexplored. This is not to say he didnt have a good proportion of screen time or even that he was poorly written in fact the contrary is true the character is a well realised and nuanced individual but the audience as with many other elements of the film are not given quite enough time to create a truly meaningful connection. This seems to be as a result of Okada trying to cram all the different elements and emotions she wants to express into the one story something thats more possible over the course of a longer running format instead of focusing on a select few. This desire to put so much in ultimately in Daikis case makes the conclusion of his arc feel like it comes from left field and left me strangely unsatisfied despite it being the outcome I was hoping to see. This underwhelming sensation is prominent several times towards the end of the film as key emotional threads get swamped and/or lost entirely by so many vying for the viewers attention. It wasnt just a case of too much to take in too little time that has me questioning if Anthem of the Heart might have made a better episodic series. When watching the works of directors such as Makoto Shinkaihttps://anilist.co/staff/96117/MakotoShinkai or Satoshi Konhttps://anilist.co/staff/99580/SatoshiKon or anyone whos work is almost exclusively comprised of theatrical works the films different acts and arcs flow fairly seamlessly into one another creating a narrative that sucks the viewer in and along for the ride. Yet however simple this might seem when watching Anthem there were several times I could almost hear the end credits of the episode beginning to play in my head this was most noticeable after the fairly infodump/exposition heavy opening twenty minutes or so after which the film finally decides it wants to get the plot moving it goes without saying that this disjointed feeling serves to take the viewer out of the experience and as such lessens the emotional impact of the film. Final Thoughts In conclusion as stated earlier Anthem of the Heart is defiantly worth the watch but is far from perfect. The film has a number of other flaws as well as positives the number of the later far out weighing the prior that I wont go into here to avoid this becoming a 3000 word essay. Ultimately I came away from the film not disappointed it was highly enjoyable and I look forward to picking up the DVD/Bluray for a rewatch but with a feeling of slight dissatisfaction wondering that if the story had only been approached differently could it have been so much more. However it did manage to at least impart one great piece of wisdom on me.
75 /100
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