Mari Okada is the writer of this magical piece about friendship, sisters and the ghosts of the living.
Can the living have ghosts? Well, have you made decisions that haunt you?
Her Blue Sky starts amazingly well as a kick-ass teen sits herself down on a bench on a bridge, plugs in a Bass and strums. I got this through cinema speakers and felt it.
In fairness, the anime continues pretty much as powerfully. We jump back in time for a bit and visit our teen as an adorable kid with her teenage sister listening to band practice. In the UK, the teen band, so full of hopes and dreams, would be practising in a garage, but here in Japan, it is an old rural temple or dojo. I think it’s a temple, as hints of Buddha are everywhere in this show.
Our hero sisters’ lives are derailed by the unexpected death of their parents. The eldest, Akane, must now raise Aoi with the guitar.
Aoi idolises the memories of the now-split band. Whatever happened to the members? Are they dead too, missing like the parents?
Aoi also feels incredible guilt, blaming herself for ruining Akane’s life by being young and needing to be looked after. As Aoi comes of age, she dreams of rushing off to Tokyo to gain fame and fortune through her bass. That’s the spirit of the past that haunts the future.
Her Blue Sky vibe
In many respects, Her Blue Sky is drawn in sombre realism. People get fat, our hero isn’t that smart, and life, for the most part, is mundane.
But, Her Blue Sky is a supernatural mystery. The talk of ghosts isn’t a metaphor. Aoi encounters one in that old building she once listened to band practice in.
While there are moments of high fantasy, most of Her Blue Sky is the harsh reality of everyday decisions of head and art. Underpinning it all are themes of friendship and aspiration.
There are two directors; Tatsuyuki Nagai and Miyuki Kuroki. Her Blue Sky doesn’t feel distracted; it’s not caught between two endpoints, although it is layered and has two stories to tell.
I really liked Her Blue Sky. It’s powerful. It’s also simple without being dumb. The supernatural twist is one step off the beaten track; that’s enough to follow easily and still feel different.
The characters are all relatable, and none of them is frustrating, too good to be true or there to be a foil.
Favourite scene? There’s a delightfully funny-snort-worthy scene where a supporting character follows Aoi’s visit to the job/education school advisor. Her arrival is made with an announcement that she’s aspiring to be a bride to a husband yet to be determined and is put down for a future in employment instead.
Her Blue Sky isn’t just an ‘I’m glad I caught on the big screen’ at Scotland Loves anime. It’s a ‘go out and watch it if you can’.
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