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  • So, I finally got around to watching Liz and the Blue Bird.

  • And yes, it's amazing, Naoko Yamada is a genius, all that jazz.

  • You've probably heard enough of that from (almost) literally everyone who's experienced

  • it.

  • Liz is not a movie with bombastic set pieces, that's not what Yamada is all about.

  • If you're looking for an equivalent to the kicking scene from 300, the closest herethat

  • carries the same weightis of an attempt at a hug.

  • It's hyper-focused on the little things.

  • The tempo of footsteps.

  • A lingering gaze.

  • A delayed reaction.

  • And for me, classroom pets.

  • Because as Mizore and Nozomi escape to that far classroom and continually expose their

  • souls bare, I caught myself thinkingwhy fugu?

  • The japanese word for a family of pufferfish, they're most known for carrying a neurotoxin

  • several times more potent than cyanide.

  • Is it really normal to have one of the most poisonous animals in the world as a classroom

  • pet?

  • Google didn't help much, but I also, y'know, don't know japanese.

  • But it makes sense if you abstract it out and consider that it's not just a pufferfish.

  • It's also a supporting character.

  • Yes, I understand that I'm stretching the definition pretty thin here.

  • But let's examine what a supporting character is and what they're supposed to accomplish.

  • By definition, a supporting character is not a main character (surprising revelation, I

  • know).

  • However, they're always in *service* of the main characters.

  • They advance the plot through selfish and selfless actions, provide a method of audience

  • insert when we want to weigh in on what's happeningand finally, they can reinforce

  • themes or serve to flesh out our mains and help us understand them just a little bit

  • more.

  • A common way the last function is accomplished is through use of a foil—a character or

  • characters that contrast against our mains, and thusly, make them stand out even more.

  • We can see all of these roles in Liz's supporting cast.

  • When having a character serve as a means of plot advancement, you can run into some issues.

  • Many show up out of the blue and proceed to dump exposition all over the place, or try

  • to force a drastic measure that feels unearned.

  • Nothing in Liz is that blatant.

  • Yuuko and Natsuki set things in motion with one simple question.

  • You're really applying to music school?”

  • There's so much to unpack in such a seemingly simple question.

  • It's the kind of question that invites you to explore the lore behind it, instead of

  • giving you the context straight off the bat.

  • For example, is it all-that surprising that someone interested in band, one of the best

  • flute players at that, would want to go to music school?

  • As soon as Mizore breaks the news, the cheerful piano music halts, the atmosphere turns sour,

  • and the subject is immediately (and awkwardly) changed.

  • It's clear to anyone that this is a touchy subject, and it's because of Yuuko and Natsuki

  • that we're enticed as to why.

  • From here, they continually prod at this issue which I consider the central conflict in the

  • film.

  • Yuuko has to be held back as she tears into Nozomi, while Natsuki plays thegood cop

  • and lets Nozomi ruminate on her dilemma.

  • Everything they do feels naturalout of concern for a friend and classmate, rather

  • than forced actions meant to move the plot forward.

  • They're there to raise questions.

  • Why is Nozomi's decision to go to music school a big deal?

  • How does that play into Mizore's arc?

  • What are the implications regarding their relationship?

  • Meanwhile, Ririka is there to provide answers.

  • At first glance, she's a rather simple archetypal oblivious character.

  • However, the characterization she shapes and goes through herself is stupendous, especially

  • within such a short runtime.

  • She only has four prominent scenes, but we can clearly witness their effect on the film

  • as well as her own progression as we walk through them.

  • Throughout Liz, Mizore is hyper-focused on her relationship with Nozomi.

  • It's kind of all she's known, and the reason she plays oboe in the first place.

  • Towards the beginning of the film, when they talk about the big concertshe states

  • “I wish that day would never come.”

  • This is not a statement from someone with a passion for playingsomeone who wishes

  • to see their efforts crystallized on stage.

  • These are the words of someone wanting to trap themselves an endless summerpracticing

  • with the one they love.

  • Ririka is the first step in Mizore snapping out of her obsession with Nozomi, as well

  • as the one to spark her contemplation of what playing oboe means to her.

  • As Ririka's incessant vivaciousness eventually manages to stir her, we see Mizore steadily

  • change her attitude.

  • Band becomes more than something she was swept away by when following Nozomi.

  • She's theaceoboist, and a mentor whose role is to guide her juniors.

  • She goes from rejecting Ririka without a thought, to preparing her reeds and inviting her to

  • social outings.

  • And it is ultimately Ririka that sets Mizore into motion.

  • The adorable phone scene is the last we see of her, and it's not even halfway through

  • the film.

  • But we *feel* Ririka nonetheless.

  • Mizore noticeably acts differently after connecting with her.

  • Instead of zeroing in on Nozomi, she becomes more receptive to the other members of the

  • band.

  • The most obvious indication of this is at the very end of the film, when she mirrors

  • Hazuki and Midori's “Happy Ice Cream!” ritual.

  • The careful way Mizore treats Ririka belies a desire to fill in the role that Nozomi did

  • for her.

  • And we can see Ririka transform from this bubbly but insecure character into someone

  • firm in her resolutions and confidence in her little community.

  • Ririka's appearance shows Mizore what it means to be someone's friend.

  • She can now look at her situation with Nozomi and realize that their dynamic is completely

  • different.

  • And what finally opens her eyes to the magnitude of thedisjointis Reinaand her

  • bluntness.

  • It's always interesting seeing what once were main characters take a backseat, and

  • it shows a nice consideration for them.

  • Reina and Kumiko's story is done, and it's time for someone else to take the spotlight

  • for a bit.

  • More importantly, it allows us to reap the rewards of seeing how far they've come,

  • and appreciate the differences that come with a supporting role.

  • Nozomi and Mizore's bond is continually tested and contrasted against the others in

  • the movie.

  • First there's the titular Liz and the Blue Bird, Yuuko and Natsuki, and finally Reina

  • and Kumiko.

  • They're the couple that are completely in-sync, firm in both how they feel towards one another

  • as well as where they stand as musicians.

  • Mizore says that she would keep the blue bird caged forever.

  • When Nozomi, Natsuki, and Yuuko overhear Reina and Kumiko's try at the solo, Natsuki mentions

  • the opposite.

  • “"That was a pretty confident Liz.

  • Like she was saying, 'Take care then!'”

  • To which Yuuko replies, “How very Kousaka.”

  • How very indeed.

  • Unlike Mizore, Reina is resolute.

  • If letting go is the best thing for the blue bird, then she would be happy to see it leave.

  • This is not to sayletting gois therightchoice that must inevitably be

  • done.

  • Mizore and Nozomi show us as much at the end of the film.

  • But Liz is very much about possessiveness, and having the certainty in yourself and worth

  • as a person is what Reina communicates to Mizoreand who better to do so?

  • Finally, it's time to answer the age-old question.

  • Or I guess rather, the minutes-old question.

  • Why fugu?

  • Well, the supporting characters we've discussed so far add shape to the central tenets of

  • the film.

  • They're folds that ultimately lead to an origami crane.

  • Fugu is no different.

  • Pufferfish are called that for a reason.

  • They're extremely elastic, and rapidly fill themselves with water or air as a defense

  • mechanism.

  • When they're threatened, they puff themselves up to look as large and threatening as possible,

  • baring their lethal spines.

  • And despite the danger inherent with them, we seem to be drawn to them nonetheless.

  • Fugu is a culinary delicacy after all, and many times throughout Liz they're referred

  • to as, cute!

  • It's said as such by Nozomi's classmates.

  • In one of the film's many lingering scenes of idle classroom chatter, we overhear someone

  • stressing about their date at the aquarium.

  • As reassurance, someone saysIsn't that fish cute?”

  • But it's a blowfish!”

  • Doesn't matter as long as it's cute.

  • Right Nozomi?”

  • The film lingers on a shot of Nozomi before she callously ignores Mizore's wave.

  • When Mizore heaps confession after confession of her love onto Nozomiall she can muster

  • is “I love your oboe.”

  • As I witnessed her deliver those words so dripping with venom, all I could imagine was

  • a blowfish puffing up to protect itself.

  • A way to guard against words she didn't ask for or feels like she deserves.

  • A flurry of words that didn't include what she really wanted to hear.

  • Not, “I love you for simply existing,” but, “I love you for what you do.

  • I love your flute.”

  • She eventually realizes what she's done and bursts out in a fit of laughter.

  • I don't think this is in any way malicious, she isn't laughing in Mizore's face in

  • light of her feelings.

  • She just finally realizes that letting her go in terms of their musical relationship

  • is completely separate from letting her go in terms of their actual relationship.

  • Sheunpuffs.”

  • What we get are two extremes that correct themselves a little more towards normal.

  • Or rather, as the movie shows, two paint splotches blending together.

  • Mizore's giddy and confident strut are a far cry from her meek footsteps at the beginning

  • of the film.

  • And Nozomi tells Mizore that she'll be the one supporting her for once.

  • In stark contrast to “I wish that day would never come,” they both triumphantly exclaim,

  • Let's do our best on stage!”

  • But, we wouldn't have any of this without the nuance provided by our supporting castin

  • a movie all about nuance.

  • Yes, even by a pufferfish.

  • Thanks for watching and be sure to like and subscribe for more content.

  • Or if you'd like, you can donate to my patreon.

  • Special thanks to NaltunBG, Nomvom, Animesuka, DateAGamer632, Bisky294, Ferrets Wreck Fun,

  • and Yorollisaur for their support.

  • And of course, if anything I said was wrong, I'm sorry.

  • I must've stuttered.

So, I finally got around to watching Liz and the Blue Bird.

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Why Fugu? What It Means to Support in Liz and the Blue Bird

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    yu posted on 2019/08/06
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