Film review: The Anthem of the Heart - run-of-the-mill anime romance
Love blossoms between a social recluse and a musician at her high school who writes a musical for her to star in
Finding your voice and staying true to yourself are the familiar adolescent adages given a visually rich, if emotionally clumsy, airing in this unabashedly good-natured animation from the team behind Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day.
When Naruse (voiced by Inori Minase), an excitable young girl, accidentally reveals that her father is having an affair, her parents separate and Naruse is cursed by a magical egg. Whenever she tries to speak, she is overcome with nausea, so inevitably becomes something of a social recluse.
A decade later, in junior high, Naruse is selected to be on an Outreach Committee, along with a typical assortment of teen archetypes - the pretty cheerleader, reclusive musician and injured baseball star. Discovering that Naruse can still sing, Takumi the musician (Koki Uchiyama) agrees to write a musical - and love blossoms.
Numerous elements of the film recollect Studio Ghibli’s Whisper of the Heart, not least the use of pop classics as backing tracks for the students’ songs, though we never reach that film’s emotional heights.
There are hidden references sure to delight Anohana fans along the way, but otherwise this is a run-of-the-mill anime romance, hobbled by an unnecessarily contrived denouement that undoes much of the work laid down before it.
The Anthem of the Heart opens on November 19