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Blue Big assessment: excessive notes

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The setup of Blue Big is acquainted anime territory: a younger boy from a small city strikes to Tokyo to pursue his dream. This boy, Dai, is a saxophone obsessive. He practices all day beneath a bridge, honking and warbling till he wears out his reed. Naturally, Dai desires to be the best jazz musician on this planet.

For all his audacious ambition, Blue Big is basically restrained. The film focuses on the trio that varieties the band — and even shifts its consideration away from Dai at across the midway mark. There’s additionally Sawabe, a savvy and smug pianist who is aware of how the membership efficiency circuit operates. After which there’s Dai’s roommate, Tamada, a highschool pal who improbably turns into the band’s rhythm part after attempting the drums simply as soon as. They resolve to kind JASS, a reputation that, surprisingly, nobody bats an eye fixed at.

Swirls of coloration, brushes with the cosmic, an try to go chic

As JASS, they apply, they carry out, they get higher. A lot of the movie’s success hinges on the music being wonderful — which it completely is. This isn’t the jukebox roulette of the Cowboy Bebop. Blue Big has a legit soundtrack composed by Japanese jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara, who does a compelling homage to the American sax legends of the ’60s. It’s much less the jazz of cool sophistication however considered one of bravado and squeaky excessive notes. Consider the muscular brass of Sonny Rollins’ Saxophone Colossus or John Coltrane’s Big Steps (most likely the document the movie’s title most strongly evokes).

The live performance scenes are magnificent, and the film has the arrogance to allow them to play lengthy. Blue Big is nicely conscious of jazz as a dying style — each jazz film is, despite the fact that they’re all remarkably unhealthy at speaking in regards to the style with any specificity. When somebody asks Dai what sort of jazz he’s into (Cool? Bebop? Swing?), he can solely say he’s into every thing. Then, he unconvincingly tells the viewers he likes jazz as a result of it’s “sizzling” and “intense.” However moderately than give trite arguments about what makes jazz compelling, Blue Big makes a present of it. The stage dynamics of the trio are a thrill after they come collectively, because the three of them get into concord. Because the movie progresses, these sequences get extra ecstatic, extra summary. Swirls of coloration, brushes with the cosmic, an try to go chic. I’m perplexed to explain how a lot enjoyable these sequences are. I suppose I’ll simply go along with… “sizzling” and “intense”?

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Two bros, simply speaking about jazz.
Picture: GKids

Nonetheless, if there’s one place the movie stumbled for me was the animation. Ninety % of this factor appears to be like nice — crisp and expressive. The jazz golf equipment themselves are particularly fairly: darkish wooden bars, bottles of liquor in a row, a dim and suggestive ambiance. However throughout performances, the film brings in motion-captured rotoscoping CG work, which by no means fairly blends in with the standard animation. The uncanny smoothness and excessive body fee look misplaced throughout the richly textured 2D world. The hole is jarring and, frankly, somewhat ugly. (That might simply be my hang-up, although; a pal on the screening mentioned it didn’t hassle him one bit.)

So far as movies go, Blue Big is as earnest as they arrive. Based mostly on a hyper-popular manga by Shinichi Ishizuka, the film is undistracted by pointless romances or subplots and surprisingly gentle on melodrama (save for one twist). In some methods, you’re greatest off approaching Blue Big as a musical. It rewards any listener with an enormous coronary heart and open ears, able to be moved by the beat.

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