17 Jul 2012

Bungaku Shoujo Anime review

English: Book Girl
Synonyms: Literature Girl, Gekijouban Bungaku Shoujo
Type: Movie
Episodes: 1
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: May 1, 2010
Producers: Production I.G, Kadokawa Contents Gate
Genres: Mystery, Drama, Romance, School
Duration: 1 hr. 40 min.
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or older

When I saw teaser preview special for Bungaku Shoujo, I was a bit tepid in my enthusiasm for this project. It looked quite lovely and it featured several of my favorite seiyuu talents, so I made a point to give this a try when it finally became available. I found this film to be mostly directionless and confusing and in the end only a very average experience. I felt like  those pills consist of sweet coat to prepare you for bad thing, bitter middle layer, where the actual medicine is located, and honeyed core to wash away the after-taste. Bungaku Shōjo has that kind of a story. 

Bungaku Shoujo or Literature Girl is about a young girl, Touka Amano who eats books. Yes she literally eats books. She can’t eat normal food apparently. Of course it would have been really nice of the story to actually tell us WHY she eats books but unfortunately we have to divine that answer for ourselves. The only answer we are given is she’s a literature girl, as if that explains everything. And thus that is the main problem with the entire movie in general, it’s called Literature Girl but it’s really not even about her. Touka is basically a side character in her own movie.

Well the real story eventually reveals itself to be about a young writer, Konoha Inoue who after winning an important literary contest a couple years before and subsequently his novel became a national sensation. But do to a personal tragedy that followed this, he has vowed to never write again. Konoha lives as an ordinary high school student since his book was published under a pseudonym and he has remained anonymous. Rather far-fetched idea really as he has seemingly managed to keep this a secret from his family as well. Of course this completely ignores the fact that it is also incredibly unlikely that a middle school student is going to have the ability to write such a novel to begin with. But I digress. 

The drama that unfolds does manage to be pretty compelling however. I did find myself engaged and interested in the story. While the major story arc is adequately resolved to many additional questions linger at the end. As mentioned before we learn really next to nothing about Touka herself. The only reason I think I understood it as much as I did was by additionally watching the preview OVA and the Memorie OVA. I would suggest anyone interested in this title to do the same to get the maximum amount of enjoyment from it. I am unclear as to whether this movie will get a follow up movie or perhaps even a TV/OVA series to further explain all of this but taking this film by itself as it currently stands, I would have to say as an adaptation it fails.

As mentioned the titular character, Touka is really left to be mostly a mystery. Personality wise I found her to be a likable character which a lot of potential if they had explored it. She felt like an odd mix-mash of Haruhi Suzumiya and Yuki Nagato. But other than being likable she really doesn’t make that much of an impression. The male lead Inoue is typical for the genre. A soft spoken, effeminate nice guy. Though I did feel he was presented very well and made for an interesting character. The struggles he has in dealing with his own personal demons I think were mostly realistic and understandable. With one exception, the rest of the supporting cast is mostly just background. The only ones who really even stood out to me at all were the ones voiced by actors I happen to like.

Above all the characters would be Miu Asakura, who is at the center of all of the stories drama. She is both the films chief antagonist and protagonist, particularly over the last half of the movie. Miu by far has the biggest impact on the film and really steals the show for herself. When you consider she’s voiced by Aya Hirano, I suppose it’s not surprising she would have the most impactful role. While Miu makes for an extremely convincing psychopath, some of the reasons behind her mental break didn’t exactly add up to what she eventually became. This being said, she is the brightest spot in the show character wise.

Artistically the film is good. The backgrounds are quite stunning and color palette is soft and pleasant. The one thing that did strike me was just how similar so many of the characters looked however. It’s almost like most of them had exactly the same face, just with different hair and eye colors. While it’s not hard to distinguish them from each other at all I just found it a bit unsettling to look at.
So, was Bungaku Shōjo good or not? In the beginning of my review I compared it with a vitamin C pill, and vitamins are nice for health, right? 

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