After the production of heartwarming anime series such as Anohana, Tatsuyuki Nagai released another heartwarming movie, Her Blue Sky. The movie deals with real-life issues using supernatural ways to convey them to the audience. Growth, regrets, and the unidirectional flow of life are the main aspects of this story. When it ends, it raises one question: What if our past selves meet us? Are they going to be proud? Or are they going to despise what we have become? Her Blue Sky is based on this very idea.
The movie has many characters that influence the plot. However, it revolves around four major characters, Aoi Aioi, Akane Aioi, Shinnosuke Kanomura, and Shinno, the past self of Shinnosuke. Through a series of events, these characters reflect on their choices, confront their feelings and accept their regrets.
Aoi Aioi is a high school student in her rebellious phase. She has short hair and a strong face with a mole in the white of her eye. She has a nasty tongue and gives off snarky replies whenever she needs to. Aoi aspires to be a musician, inspired by Akane’s ex-boyfriend, Shinno. She lived in Chichibu, which is surrounded by mountains. She describes that living here makes her feel like she is bound in a prison.
As a child, Aoi is mesmerized by the bass and wishes to learn it. She is often seen clinging to Akane. She also tries to protect her from Shinno when she thinks he is bullying her.
When Aoi grows up, she becomes reserved and rebellious. She feels like she is a burden to her sister, Akane. As a result, she decides to go to Tokyo and join a band so that Akane can live her life the way she wants. She is often told how great her sister is, something which makes her want to rebel more.
Although Aoi has a straightforward and fiery exterior, we see that she has a soft side to her too.
Akane Aioi is Aoi’s older sister. She has long brown hair and is always seen wearing spectacles. Everyone likes Akane for her kind nature. She is also very reliable and remains calm even in stressful situations. She is always seen smiling, even if things worry her. When Aoi snaps and says she never wants to be like her, Akane simply smiles sadly. She takes care of the people around her, especially Aoi.
Akane prioritized Aoi over everything. Even after the death of their parents, she brings Aoi up in the best way she could. Even if things were not okay, she hides her sadness and works hard to keep her sister happy. She believes that just because some things are true, doesn’t mean they should be said. This is how she explains adulthood. This makes her quite different from her sister.
Shinnosuke was Akane’s boyfriend in high school. Now, he is a band member of a traveling artist. He is a professional guitarist. Shinnosuke has brown hair and an unshaven face. He has a tall and lanky physique with quite good looks. His eyes look tired and sad, unlike his past self. He is reserved and has an arrogant character in the beginning. Later, in interaction with Akane, we see him making jokes, showing us a whole new side of him.
Shinnosuke has a debut song called “Her Blue Sky”, something he is not much proud of. The lyrics of the song sound like they are dedicated to Akane. He is filled with regret and contradictory feelings towards his hometown. He wishes to settle down like his other friends. As the movie progresses, it is quite easy to connect to this character. Shinnosuke represents the regrets and compromises that one faces when chasing their dreams. He is discontented with how his life has turned out and often seems to question his choices.
Shinno is Shinnosuke’s past self and about the same age as Aoi. He is summoned to the future in the form of a living spirit as a result of his unresolved feelings. Shinno has bright red hair. Like Aoi, he too has a mole on the white of his eye. Unlike his future self, he is filled with life. He is optimistic and a bit immature but has a kind heart.
Shinno represents the part of human life that adults tend to forget. Amidst the various potholes of life, people leave behind a part of them that they used to cherish. Shinno is that very part of Shinnosuke. For Aoi, Shinno and Shinnosuke become two very different people, one that she hates and the other that she ends up falling for.
Although Shinnosuke and Shinno are the same people, I like to refer to them as different characters that play very different significant roles in the story.
The story begins with Aoi and Akane watching Shinnosuke’s band practice as kids. Aoi immediately takes interest in the bass. Shinnosuke promises her that one day she will become the bassist of his band. Shinnosuke teaches Aoi to play the bass as Akane watches them happily.
Akane and Shinnosuke are dating at this time. They planned to go to Tokyo after high school and attend a vocational school.
Somewhere around this time, Akane and Aoi’s parents die in a car mishap. Akane accepts her responsibilities as an older sister towards Aoi and decides to stay back in Chichibu with her. Shinnosuke is heartbroken when Akane refuses to go to Tokyo with him. However, he decides to move ahead in life to fulfill his dreams and then come back for Akane when he has achieved them.
13 years later
Akane and Aoi live together in Chichibu. Akane works in the City Hall. One day, the mayor invites a famous artist, Nitobe Dankichi to write a song about the place to attract more tourists to it. Akane is made the Assistant Event Manager by Masamichi, who also seems to like her romantically. Somewhere else, we see the now grown-up Shinnosuke opening a box, but the contents are not revealed, yet.
On the day of Nitobe’s arrival, Aoi is practicing her bass in the room where Shinno and his band practiced. To her surprise, Shinno appears. However, the Shinno she sees is from 13 years ago in the past. Scared, Aoi runs away but does not tell anyone about it. She assumes that Shinnosuke must have died and it must be a ghost.
When Nitobe arrives, Akane and Aoi are met with another shock as they see Shinnosuke in the background, playing the guitar. After Nitobe’s welcome, the band members and the city hall employees gather for drinks. Nitobe wonders if Masamichi and Akane are together. Before Akane can deny it, Masamichi lays down a reply that neither accepts nor denies the fact. While Shinnosuke is quietly listening to the conversation, he is clearly bothered by it as he drinks more. Later that night, Akane goes to drop him off. In the apartment, Shinnosuke tries to make a move on her, only to be rejected by Akane as she walks away.
At the same time, Aoi goes to confront Shinno but takes Tsugu, Masamichi’s son along with her. Shinno is still there and obviously does not recognize her until Tsugu calls her “Ao chan”. Shinno does not know anything about the situation either. The last thing he remembers is Akane refusing to go to Tokyo and with him.
Tsugu deduces that Shinno is a living soul, formed by some unresolved feelings. The only way to solve this situation was to bring Shinnosuke and Akane back together. However, as time passes, Aoi starts falling in love with Shinno as she sees the difference between him and Shinnosuke. While Shinno was appreciative and kind, Shinnosuke had turned aggressive and arrogant. She starts wondering what would happen to Shinno if Shinnosuke and Akane get back together and falls into a dilemma. She was not ready to part ways with Shinno yet, who she could connect to.
Shinnosuke has his own issues. Being unsatisfied with his life, he has turned into a grumpy adult. He no longer carries the shine in his eyes. He did not want to come back in front of Akane as he despised his present self. Moreover, he had given up on the optimistic and positive way of life he led before. It is not difficult to notice that he still has deep feelings for Akane as he is still unmarried and regrets it when she finds out about all the girls he was hanging out with.
On the day of the music festival, Aoi confesses her feelings to Shinno. But, she tells him that she loves Akane more. For her, she was bound to Akane as much as Akane was bound to her and nothing could change that. Learning how much Akane had sacrificed for her no more made her feel burdened, but grateful instead. Seeing Akane laugh with Shinnosuke clears all her dilemma as she sees that he is the only one who could truly make her happy.
Shinnosuke goes back to the room where he used to practice as a teenager. Here, he meets Shinno, who mocks his choices and what he has become. Shinno argues that Shinnosuke didn’t keep any of the promises he had made to himself while the latter aggressively explains that no matter how hard someone works, fate and connections are important to gain success.
At the same time, Aoi comes running to tell Shinno that Akane is stuck in a cave due to a landslide. Shinnosuke is calm, saying she must be safe. But Shinno is infuriated at his calmness. Shinno, who could not get out of the room because of an invisible barrier, forces himself out with Aoi’s help. Once he gets out, he flies, taking Aoi with him, towards Akane to make sure she is fine. Ignited by his past self, Shinnosuke runs towards Akane too.
Shinnosuke’s flashbacks show that he was opening a box that he had kept locked for a long time. He picks out a picture of Akane and Aoi with him and his bandmates; the same picture that he carries to the room where Shinno was encaged.
Shinno meets Akane, where they talk about Aoi. Here, Shinno accepts how important Aoi is to Akane. Any feeling of resentment for her rejection disappears as he starts to carry only love with her. Shinnosuke and Akane are seen talking after saving Akane from the cave. He confesses that he hasn’t given up on her, to which Akane silently accepts his confession. Shinno disappears and Aoi is seen crying, knowing he was gone.
In the end credits, we see that Shinnosuke and Akane get married in 2021, while Aoi advances to become a professional musician.
Her Blue Sky is about accepting the realities of life. While compromises are necessary, they are not always compulsory. In the movie, Shinno appears the moment Shinnosuke opens his box that carried all his memories. After getting rejected by Akane 13 years ago, although he had made up his mind to come back for her after becoming a musician, sometime later, he gave up on this dream.
The guitar, that he had bought with Akane is a personification of his youth. Leaving behind the guitar personified leaving behind a part of himself, that connected him to Akane. Shinno not being able to come out of the room depicts Shinnosuke’s feelings for Akane that he keeps locked away, not wanting to show them. However, once the strings of the guitar break, Shinno is not bounded by anything, only wanting to see Akane safe. What adds more beauty to this moment of confrontation is the awakening of Shinnosuke as he starts running towards his feeling rather than away from them.
Shinnosuke had boxed his memories away and sealed them. He had been trying to avoid what his heart was telling him to do, leading to the summoning of Shinno from the past. Shinno came from the time when he knew nothing of resentment that Shinnosuke felt towards his life, to remind him what he was keeping locked away.
The brilliantly portrayed movie brings excitement to the viewers. While the movie has its moments, it is a bit slow going. At some points, the exceeding suspense seems to lose its audience. However, the movie is overall very interestingly laid down and definitely worth watching.