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REVIEW: Sing a Bit of Harmony




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wolf10



Joined: 23 Jan 2016
Posts: 748
PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2022 12:24 pm Reply with quote
Thanks for the early review! This sounds like just what the doctor ordered. Between this and BELLE, January seems to be a really good month for anime musicals. This one is also showing down the street from me, so I will probably be back tomorrow with my entirely unsolicited opinion.

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Also, as much as I love the vibe in Kanna Kii's character concept drawings, they don't look so memorable in animated form.
This is the only part that sounds concerning to me, if only because the Seaside Stranger movie looked so good, but the difference there is that Kii Kanna also did the animation character designs, not just the concepts. I'll find out soon enough.
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FireChick



Joined: 26 Mar 2006
Posts: 2140
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2022 12:43 pm Reply with quote
I'm actually seeing this on Tuesday with my dad, and this review gives me more incentive to see how it turns out.
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whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 2102
PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2022 1:28 pm Reply with quote
Aw man, Yoshiura is a personal fave of mine, but the closest theater for this is two hours away. I'll have to catch this on physical release or streaming. Sad
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chrisb
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Joined: 07 May 2006
Posts: 532
Location: USA
PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2022 3:08 pm Reply with quote
Now that I see the plot is about an AI I think I may check it out. I was not going to watch the film after I saw that weird girl randomly burst into song in the clips I saw online. It was just awkward. I can accept an over the top personality from an AI character.
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Neko-sensei



Joined: 19 Jan 2007
Posts: 278
PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2022 11:38 pm Reply with quote
Time to copy and paste the mini-review I wrote to friends in the US when I saw this film last year (note that although I'm mostly laudatory, I also agree with Kim's characterization of the film as "good, not great"—you will thoroughly enjoy it but it won't really stick with you):

...The film concerns an AI named Shion whose Turing test is to pass as a student at a local high school. As you know, most AIs in story and film are thinly-veiled children, and exist so the writer can make a statement about what it means to be human. They're all, "WHAT. IS... LOVE?" and, "TEACH. ME. SELF... SACRIFICE." (Not that this is necessarily a bad thing; what is a story but an attempt to explore human nature?) But Shion has no interest in being human! She just wants to follow her creators' commands and become a good AI by helping humans and bringing them happiness—although she readily acknowledges that she has absolutely no means by which to judge "happiness" apart from repeatedly asking people, "are you happy?" I call Shion "she," but the writing of her character is really remarkable in the way it avoids anthropomorphizing her: she always feels like a "person," but she never feels "human." The film's excellent human cast does the job of exploring human nature; Shion is there to help them along and to explore the nature of being an AI.

In addition to this laudable feat of characterization, Sing a Bit of Harmony is just an enormous amount of fun: Shion appears to believe that the movie is a musical even though none of the other characters do, which generates a number of sequences that perfectly combine comedy and genuinely heartwarming musical numbers to put big sloppy smiles on the viewers' faces. You might even tear up a bit towards the end when the secret behind Shion's creation is revealed. The film's only weakness is the exact same stupid issue that blighted Patema Inverted—a completely unnecessary villain who spends all his time talking about how young people suck and "adult society" consists of doing bad things to other people. Fortunately, the villain has practically no screen time in Sing a Bit of Harmony, so he's only a very quiet sour note in an otherwise pitch-perfect (pun not intended... or is it?) movie.
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Suxinn



Joined: 23 Jan 2009
Posts: 175
PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2022 3:35 am Reply with quote
Yasuhiro Yoshiura is my favorite anime director ever, so I'm extremely excited for this. He's definitely on the list of people who I'd watch even if they were just directing a cereal commercial. Unfortunately, I'm not going to be in NA anytime soon to catch any viewings of this, but hopefully it comes out on DVD/BD soon enough so I can get my hands on a copy.
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wolf10



Joined: 23 Jan 2016
Posts: 748
PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2022 5:17 pm Reply with quote
And now I've seen it! I may or may not have been humming on my way out of the theater. There's no video evidence, so you can prove nothing!

It's a fun little flick. Shion is a perfect little avatar of chaos, and there's always an enjoyable gap between what she does and how everyone around her takes it. Like an X-Files episode about AI gone rogue, but with music instead of murder. Her Japanese dialogue is also very pun-heavy, with one particular standout spoiler[involving a play on "butoukai" and "budoukai" that gets taken to truly ridiculous extremes, but ends up making quite a lot of sense in hindsight once her true origin as a speech-processing AI is revealed]. The subtitles do their best, but I think a lot is lost in translation.

My only incredibly minor quibble is spoiler[that a movie with the line "Finding a boyfriend isn't going to make me happy!" still manages to find room to pair off its three girls (2.5 girls?) and three boys exactly the way you'd expect]. but at least part of that has to do with the Japanese title (AI no Utagoe wo Kikasete), and that age old pun on "ai" and AI. On the plus side, it's all built into the narrative's natural progression rather than feeling like a detour, and they're all fleshed-out characters with clear motivations. rather than the usual cardboard standees.

As for this:
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The climax tries to go ham to some extent, but it doesn't fully make use of the setting, which I found mildly disappointing. (I really would have liked to see some dancing robots!)
spoiler[It's only a few short cuts that are easy to miss with subtitles up, but I did keep an eye out for dancing robots in the finale, and there were a few! The androids get a few claps and steps in, and the trash-collector robots do some coordinated twirls that get shot as if they're backup dancers in a move musical. Because, well, they're backup dancers in a movie musical..]

I kind of want to see a version of this movie with BELLE's budget where they can go really over the top with the hostile-AI-takeover musical numbers. (Which were actually not hostile, because Shion asked nicely.)
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FireChick



Joined: 26 Mar 2006
Posts: 2140
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2022 7:24 am Reply with quote
Alright, so I just got back from seeing this with my dad and...wow, I liked it! Far more than I thought I would, and it was actually pretty cute and sweet! Very heavy on the cheese, though.
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joemuszynski



Joined: 09 Apr 2020
Posts: 27
PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2022 9:43 am Reply with quote
I thought this was a very funny film and the character designs were right up my alley, so I was all in. spoiler[ I esp liked when the characters sing together and none of them are singers - funny and real. Good stuff.]
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Megiddo



Joined: 24 Aug 2005
Posts: 8295
Location: IL
PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2022 10:53 am Reply with quote
FireChick wrote:
Alright, so I just got back from seeing this with my dad and...wow, I liked it! Far more than I thought I would, and it was actually pretty cute and sweet! Very heavy on the cheese, though.

If you haven't seen the director's Time of Eve I highly recommend it!
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omiya



Joined: 21 Sep 2011
Posts: 1720
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2022 9:55 pm Reply with quote
Finally saw this last night in subtitled form, well worth seeing.

Even though it was lower budget than Belle, it was well put together, only took as long as at it needed to tell its story.
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