Blue Giant review – electrifying animation captures the ecstasy of live music

A sublime score from Hiromi Uehara drives this coming-of-age-anime, which brings three young jazz musicians to life with spectacular imagery

Is jazz dead? Yuzuru Tachikawa’s Blue Giant certainly begs to differ. Following three 18-year-old boys who doggedly pursue their musical dreams, the film hits the familiar beats of the coming-of-age anime, yet it also deviates from the format in interesting ways. There are trials and tribulations, quarrels and reconciliation, but what makes Blue Giant really shine is its masterly rendering of the physical ecstasy that emanates from live performance.

Jass, the band at the film’s centre, represents three different approaches to making music. Arriving in Tokyo from a small town, Dai Miyamoto has only picked up the saxophone four years earlier yet possesses a prodigious, ferocious ability to channel his emotions with every note. In contrast, pianist Yukinori Sawabe, who grew up in a family of musicians, is more restrained: he favours precise technique over improvisations. Percussionist Shunji Tamada, Dai’s childhood friend, is the most inexperienced of all: a complete amateur, his beginner enthusiasm is both endearing and moving.

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