Harmonie is a short 2014 film from Studio Rikka. You may know them as the studio what done Eve no Jikan. It also has the same creator/director, Yoshiura Yasuhiro. I don’t know what to expect from it, but I did quite like Eve no Jikan. So, having the same studio and creative force as that isn’t a bad sign.
We open with a young man talking about the concept that we all live in our own little worlds and can never truly enter someone else’s. He posits that his world must be close to that of his two friends, hence why they get along really well and wishes that it could be closer to his crush’s. He and his friends have a conversation while she has a conversation with her friends. During which one of them changes her ringtone. Class resumes and she gets rung, much to her dismay. He finds himself fascinated by the song and he’s recreating it using a piano app on his phone. She happens to hear and wonders how he can recreate it after hearing it once for a very short time. He explains it as him just having a strong ear for music and asks her where he can find the full version. She hands him an old mp3 player, thereby inviting him for a glimpse of her world.
The biggest problem with the narrative is just that it’s largely made up of very minor teenage drama. He likes her but she might have a boyfriend. Then the possible boyfriend gets jealous because they start to bond because he gets a glimpse into her reoccurring dream. It’s less than compelling and something this short really needs to grab your attention quickly since you know it’s not going to have a lot of opportunity to improve later. The narrative sequence is also a bit obvious.
The best part of the film, by far, is the dream sequence. The rest of it is a bit boring while that whole sequence actually grabs you attention and shows what looks to be an interesting little world.
You wouldn’t expect a twenty five minute film to have much in terms of characterisation. Which is certainly the case here. The characters are a pretty generic bunch designed to call common slice of life archetypes to mind and, thereby, build off of those characters you know to create the illusion that they’re deeper than they actually are. The problem here is that the film’s premise is working off of this idea of our individually constructed worlds and that doesn’t exactly work as it should without characters who are actually well developed. It’s no wonder the dream sequence used to showcase the love interest’s own world has to be so outlandish. It’s the only method they had to make her seem kind of interesting.
The film is very well drawn and animated. I’ll give them full credit on that count. The dream sequence is, again, the part that really stands out positively. It has a very strong sense of atmosphere and some interesting visuals. The artwork outside of that still looks good, but the visuals themselves aren’t that interesting. You’ve got a bunch of standard looking kids faffing about in a rather drab looking school.
The acting is fair enough. Our main children were voiced by Ueda Reina, who I don’t think I’ve heard in anything else, & Matsuoka Yoshitsugu who voiced Array in Rinne no Lagrange, a very minor character in Madoka and never appeared in anything else good. At least as far as things I’ve seen. They both deliver decent enough performances. As do the rest of the cast. The music is pretty nice. I like Kokia’s performance for the theme tune.
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Harmonie isn’t nearly on the level of Eve no Jikan. Length is probably a major factor, since it’s only twenty five minutes. But, ultimately, its big issue is just that the under-developed characters can’t carry the premise. I do like the idea and I won’t claim it’s handled poorly, it’s handled okay, given the short running time. So, my final rating for Harmonie is going to be a 6/10. It’s an all right little film and it may be worth watching just for the dream sequence. Next week it’s time to revisit a familiar franchise with a look at JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Diamond wa Kudakenai.