Bungaku Shojo anime review

Bungaku Shojo anime review
As first year student Konoha Inoue is about to leave school campus, he presences a girl savor a page from the book she is reading. She introduces herself as second year Tōko Amano, the literature girl, and asks him to join the Literature Club so that he doesn't expose her secret. After almost two years of being the sole two members of the club, a strange message arrives: a piece of paper with a peculiar drawing. Further investigation leads them not only to Inoue's past, but to the reason to why he has given up on writing novels for the rest of his life.

Whenever Production I.G. sinks effort into one of its movies, it shows. Their latest endeavor, Bungaku Shoujo, is adorned with the colorful backgrounds and top tier animation quality the studio is know for. Though the movie initially establishes itself with the typical high school setting so common in anime, it quickly shifts its focus to more serious matters as the plot unfolds, creating an interesting mix between the dramatic events and the more quiet moments.

It would be easy to assume that the heavy handed drama is the main thrust of the plot. As a story driven by character problems, Bungaku Shoujo focuses mainly on the insecurities of two of its characters and the resulting interactions. The situations presented are sometimes melodramatic, largely caused by the unstable nature of one of the characters, but Bungaku Shoujo pushes forward firmly and deliberately, slowly unraveling motives to justify its characters’ actions. This consistent pacing allows the audience to accept the emotional rollercoaster of events as a whole, even if individual scenes stretch credibility and transitions from one scene to another are sometimes awkward.

However, one who merely assumes that drama is all the movie has to offer would overlook the subtle undercurrents of Bungaku Shoujo. This marked contrast manifests itself in the titular character Amano Touko, who manages to step away from most dramatic moments and yet establishes more overall development in the characters than anyone else. At times whimsical and at others serious and wise, her presence on the screen seems to dictate the atmosphere and pace of the movie with relative ease. Her interactions with Konoha form the crux of these slower and more subtle scenes and are perhaps the most crucial, as they tie multiple themes together while also causing small changes that influence the movie as a whole. This is further topped by Hanazawa Kana’s stellar performance, whose trademark cutesy voice gives away to serious contemplation easily and without a trace of the sappiness that often infects her other serious roles.

The differing tones of these two aspects of the movie are most obvious in the resolution of both. The dramatic line of plot ends with an equally dramatic climax, which clearly and thoroughly resolves the tension in a firm manner. While the scene plays out with Bungaku Shoujo’s honesty, the first conflict is resolved in a bit too convenient manner that is all too typical in fiction. The other thread, in contrast, ties up its side of the story with a logical culmination of events while maintaining the soft and subtle atmosphere that built up to it.

To judge Bungaku Shoujo on merely its surface would be a fallacy. The dramatic plot itself is a good attempt at storytelling, even if it has some obvious flaws. Despite this, the subtle interactions that seep into and take hold of the narrative not only serve to fix some of the problems but also supersede these issues to become the defining parts of the story. Bungaku Shoujo is a paradox in storytelling, but it is one that vastly prefers the quiet and imperceptible over the audacious and melodramatic.

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