Blue Thermal has some emotional highs and lows, but mainly highs and is a feel-good and uplifting anime.
A blue thermal, I’ve learned, is a type of wind that can raise your single or twin-seat glider up safely higher into the sky and is considered good luck.
The anime is about a freshman uni student called Tamaki Tsuru who has come to university to find love, perhaps join a sports group and study.
However, the year gets off to a bad start as Tamaki accidentally damages a glider’s wing while playing tennis. These elegant machines are terribly expensive, and the bank of mum and dad won’t cover the damages.
So, Tamaki first finds herself roped into helping with the university’s gliding up. Joining the club then leads on to Tamaki enjoying flying and then ends up hoping the championship prize fund will cover the costs of the broken glider.
I watched Blue Thermal at Scotland Loves Anime which meant a large screen and an engaged audience. There is laugh out loud moments; Tamaki Tsuru is a charismatic bundle of energy and won the audience over. The cinema screen is a perfect window onto the epic vistas of the gliding anime.
There is flying here, but it’s easy to forget at times. Gliders don’t really whoosh around. There’s no dog fights, no surreal moments of projected math calculations as pilots plot angles to try and steal a lead on another. When they’re in the air, sometimes we have the carefully selected music, the pilot’s expressions and lots and lots of warm blue.
So, there’s flying, but Blue Thermal is about people. Tamaki Tsuru is a blue thermal herself, a gust of positive energy that uplifts those around her. There are other characters in the uni’s gliding clubs, like the stern one, the dorky one, the girlie one, who are fleshed out enough to be interesting but never steal the limelight from our hero.
At one point, a friend gets frustrated at Tamaki and insists she reveals what she feels about a potential boyfriend. You might feel the same as the frustrated, but I’m not sure it matters. Tamaki just a nice person who means well but doesn’t always get it right.
Look and feel
I’m not too fond of heights, and movies, even anime, can trigger a sense of unease in me. At no point did I have any such trouble with Blue Thermal.
Yet, there are scenes shot from up on high, scenes of the horizon and all sorts of tricks to bring the heights to life. If you’re a fan of climbing or heights, and indeed if you know anything about gliding, then I suspect you’ll love Blue Thermal. I did, despite my wise caution when it comes to being dangerously high.
The original book is about the details of university life and the challenges of running a club. That’s not the vibe of the anime. Here it’s about being up in with the clouds and making friends when you’re on the ground.
It’s a feel-good anime, despite some jeopardy and crucial lessons on the dangers of making mistakes when others depend on you not to.
I enjoyed Blue Thermal. Some people will love Blue Thermal; it’ll touch sometime deep in those who might also have that hunger for silent speed through the heavens.
For me, Blue Thermal was welcome escapism. I stepped in off the dark autumnal streets of Edinburgh, snuggled into a comfy seat in an indie cinema and took to the summer skies of Japan.
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