Warning: This Review Contains Spoilers
“Harmonie” (2014) is a 25-minute animated short directed by Yasuhiro Yoshiura best known for his animated movies “Time of Eve” (2010) and “Paterma Inverted” (2013). He also directed the animated short “Pale Cocoon” (2006), which I reviewed before.
Akio Honjou is a typical geeky high school student. He has an unrequited crush on his classmate Juri Makina, one of the popular girls in class. The start of the school day seems to be proceeding normally, until Juri’s girl friends play a prank on her.
The girls secretly change the ringtone and activate the sound of Juri’s cellphone, which inevitably rings during class. What should have been a harmless prank turns out to be something more when Juri looks visibly distraught by the music coming from her phone.
Akio, meanwhile, is drawn to the music. He memorizes the few seconds he hears of the tune. During break time, he plays what he remembers repeatedly on his cellular phone’s piano app. Juri overhears the music, traces the source of the sound, and confronts Akio. Thus begins this 25-minute animated short.
Twenty-five minutes is a short time to tell a story, but sometimes less is more. Such is the case for “Harmonie.” Here is a film that left me thinking so hard about what it was trying to say that I had to watch it again soon after. The second watching left me with even more to think about because my interpretation of the film turned 180 degrees.
Here is the whole animated short with English subtitles.
At first, I though Akio took advantage of Juri’s psychological condition.
Sure, it wasn’t his fault that Juri left a recording of her session with her psychologist on the music player she let Akio. It was also an accident when he told her that the three white bottle stickers on her phone were colored red, green, and purple.
In the end, he had the choice of telling Juri the truth. He could have told her that everything was just a misunderstanding, and that he doesn’t experience the recurring dreams that she does each night.
But was it too late for him to tell Juri the truth. She was already invested in the belief that she had finally found someone who understood her, who was like her after growing up believing she was crazy. She might have gone ballistic if Akio had told her the truth, but was he even thinking about this in the film?
One thing is for sure, he was willing to accept Juri and all her craziness just so he could be with her. And his unconditional acceptance of her is an expression of his love.
My views on the film go back and forth between these two extremes, but I’d rather live with the ambiguity, rather than have Yasuhiro Yoshiura extend the film by another 20 minutes or develop it into a full-length animated film. If he does go that route, I’d love to see him make multiple endings. I think that is a great idea!
I could continue discussing this film to no end, and that’s a fantastic thing for such a short film. Moving, intriguing, and unforgettable, I highly recommend this to all anime fans and anyone wanting a taste of great Japanese animation.