Blue Giant

*1/2

Reviewed by: Donald Munro

Blue Giant
"When Blue Giant steps away from anime cliché it puts its foot straight into light entertainment." | Photo: © Blue Giant Partners

Blue Giant is the animated story of a teenage boy, Dai Miyamoto (Yûki Yamada) who wants to be a rising star of Japanese jazz. The plot is thin and lacks tension. Boy meets Jazz, boy meets sax, boy meets band, boy practices sax, on the eve of the band's breakthrough gig tragedy strikes and one of the band members can't make it but band plays anyway, etc. The narrative is pretty much devoid of subplot and the ending is given away at several points in the film.

The film lacks dimensions beyond plot. The three main characters are dull, slightly drawn and don't interact meaningfully outside of their own little bubble. There is nothing in the way of discernible subtext. The animation is conservative and doesn't fit the subject matter. When the unimaginatively named band Jass walk on stage they come with all the anime tropes of thugs going to a street fight. This worked 35 years ago in Akira, with thugs going to a street fight, but the band is here to play smooth jazz. Solos are animated like a samurai powering up an eviscerating blow. The point is to communicate with your audience, not slaughter it. When Blue Giant steps away from anime cliché it puts its foot straight into light entertainment with all the fast cutting to faux emoting of Britain's Got Talent.

Copy picture

Jazz has been used effectively in films like Whiplash, in television from Johnny Staccato to Crime Story (Miles Davis jams with Stephen Lang) and animation from Cowboy Bebop to Count Ducula (No Sax Please We're Egyptian). It has also been used to bore you in waiting rooms and elevators. You hang on the telephone waiting for the moment of excitement: "CLICK, your call is important to us." At least its not a tinny version of the Ode To Joy on a 45 second loop. Blue Giant has the second sort of Jazz. Staid and tame, it'll make you forget how many drinks have slipped down as you head for narcolepsy. Then it jars. The resolution of a phrase loses timbre, goes weak and reedy as the player runs out of air (I haven't picked up a clarinet in 30 years and I am sure I can still make that mistake). Why not listen to something better instead? Pithecanthropus Erectus, The Lady Sings The Blues or even Damo Suzuki's Network, and just forgo the film.

Blue Giant is without engaging plot or characters, interesting subtext or innovative animation, and the music is no Blue Train.

Reviewed on: 27 Jan 2024
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Blue Giant packshot
When a student receives a saxophone as a gift, he starts practising immediately, and finds himself drawn into the world of jazz.

Director: Yuzuru Tachikawa

Writer: NUMBER 8, Shin'ichi Ishizuka

Starring: Shôtarô Mamiya, Amane Okayama, Yuki Yamada

Year: 2023

Runtime: 120 minutes

Country: Japan

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