WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR ANTHEM OF THE HEART
Hey everyone, back again with another Character Focus article. This one comes courtesy of me having finally watching Anthem of the Heart as of last week. I actually really enjoyed some of the characters in ef: A Tale of Memories, but as I’ve written about that in a previous post I thought I’d give the floor to this movie. If you didn’t know, Anthem of the Heart comes to us from the same team who created Anohana, including writer Mari Okada who has quite a long list of anime to her own name (including Toradora which if you’ve seen my previous post on the show or panel, you’d know I’m a big fan of). So I was very excited to watch this movie. But this is about Jun, specifically, so let’s get into that.
I’ve already written a little bit about how much I enjoy Jun, both on some reddit posts and some twitter posts, but I think I’ll go over again that I just find her design absolutely adorable. From her introduction as a child, to the time skip where we see her in high school, to the ending where she’s in her musical outfit (the hair pulled back was something to behold), she was just… so cute. All the time. Nice voice acting work, a nice design to look at, a pleasant personality, and throughout the movie I constantly felt for the girl and her struggles.
Let’s move onto the beginning of the story and her as a child. We’re told right out that she’s a blabbermouth, but beyond that we can see it very obviously. Much of the dialogue in the first few minutes is Jun talking and running her mouth and we see the problems it causes immediately. Seeing the setup to how she lost her voice gave an interesting set up to the rest of the film especially since it was going to be such a drastic change to Jun’s character; the viewer expects her to speak often but for most of the film she really doesn’t say too much, which leads her character having to express herself in different ways.
Which is one of the strongest points of Jun. She’s so animated within the movie that it’s very easy to see what she’s feeling or the state of mind she’s in because although she can’t speak she still retains some of the aspects of an extroverted girl although she’s been forced to become reserved. There are several screenshots I took that, when looking at them quickly (as a flip book), you can see the attention the animators paid to her expressions and you can tell when she’s shocked or embarrassed to be caught looking at someone or to be called on.
Of course, expressing yourself is a very important theme to this movie. And Jun seems crave a way to express herself since talking doesn’t agree with her (at least until the end of the movie). So she slowly approaches the idea of singing to express herself; obviously she doesn’t jump right into it but it’s a slow and gradual approach. No one even believes she can sing so she has to prove them wrong by summoning the courage to even get out a few lines. By the end, she’s able to sing in front of an entire audience full of strangers and classmates and give voice to her expressions through the play that the main characters thought up.
And after seeing what kind of shit she had to put up with, the payoff of seeing her play come to life, at least in the end, was elating to watch. From the beginning we saw that her family situation wasn’t great. Hearing your dad, who Jun apparently looked up to when she was little, tell you that your family falling apart was your fault is devastating to a child who is Jun’s age. To follow it up, her other seemed to constantly tell her to her face how troubling it was to have a daughter that never spoke. Additionally, Jun had to ignore neighbors who came around because it would give off the wrong impression and cause people to talk. Needless to say, she felt alone.
She was able to find salvation in Takumi though. She was able to make friends, fall in love, and realize how she could express herself thanks to Takumi’s help in making her play and standing by her while everyone else either mocked her or ignored her. The dynamic between the two was plenty interesting too – unrequited love wasn’t something I thought would have happened at the beginning of the film. But it also gave more credence to the ending of the movie where the songs were intertwined with each other.
It all revolved around Jun realizing that communication is a tricky thing. Sometimes it hurts people and you think you’d be better off never talking again. So you put yourself in a shell – you “walk on eggshells” – in order to not cause anyone else pain with your words. But that doesn’t work either. Sometimes choosing to not say anything causes people pain too. Yet speaking up at the right time can give others happiness as well. Even telling someone what you really think of them, as Jun did to Takumi, is important as it gets across her feelings in an honest way.
I believe Jun learns the most important lesson the hard way: you can help people AND hurt people with your words without realizing it. You can tell someone you think is happy that will cause them pain. You can say something you think is inconsequential that makes someone else really happy. The most important thing though is that you speak up in the first place. That doesn’t always mean you have to say something either. Expressing yourself through singing or art is shown to be equally as valid if not a completely unique way to get across your message to others.
Jun was definitely the highlight of this movie for me. I feel like if she was the sole focus with the other characters supporting her, it might have done a bit better, but that’s a discussion for another post. Jun was a shining star that I wanted to see succeed due to her struggles and even though her ending was bittersweet, it leaned more towards sweet than bitter (with a potential boyfriend, even). She gained confidence and crushed the illusion of the egg thanks to her own strength and some help from Takumi. I’m very sad that her character was limited to just the movie because I would have loved to see more of her. She was just so… cute. As always, thanks for reading.