On-Gaku: Our Sound is an animated film from Japan about a group of friends who decide to form a band. When the three friends discover there is another band in the high school, they realize they have to find out more about them. Unlike many anime based in high schools, it is not about bullying, harems, or magic. It is a coming of age story about music and discovery.
Director Kenji Iwaisawa spent seven years working on his film. The animation in On-Gaku is simple, yet striking. Backgrounds are subdued while the character models move with rotoscoped fluidity. It’s style will initially remind some of Beavis and Butthead, but with more personality. There is a care and delicacy that will draw audiences in.
Unsurprisingly, music is an important part of On-Gaku. The film celebrates the enthusiasm and thrill of creating sonic art. The rock festival the story culminates in ties together everything wonderfully. On-Gaku is also an incredibly funny movie. The humor will catch audiences off guard. Whereas the soundtrack washes over viewers and the animation is in your face, the dialogue is laid back and subtle. The deadpan style will turn some people off, but it is a perfect contrast to the rest of the film.
This also leads to some moments that go on for a little too long. These scenes are played for comedy – and to be fair, it works more often than not. On-Gaku contains a sense of comedic timing that is very difficult to pull off. That being said, it is a thin line it is not always able to navigate smoothly. It can sometimes be very frustrating since On-Gaku relies almost exclusively on this type of humor.
This is more of a nitpick than an actual problem. On-Gaku: Our Sound is a feel good story about the power of music. The straightforward story and great animation are impressive and fun to watch. The hand drawn art and down to earth plot are a refreshing change from the over the top stories that are currently popular.
On-Gaku: Our Sound is available on digital platforms and DVD and Blu-Ray March 9
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