Sing A Bit of Harmony Review

Sing a Bit of Harmony Review: A Beautiful Exploration of A.I. and Happiness

Sing a Bit of Harmony is the latest anime film to hit U.S. theaters. However, Funimation’s first co-production (which was made with Bandai Namco Arts, Shochiku, and J.C. Staff) feels pretty unique within anime. Made even more evident in the English dub, this coming-of-age story almost has a Disney feel to it with characters occasionally breaking out into song and playing off each other in a lighthearted manner. This certainly isn’t a bad thing as it gives director Yasuhiro Yoshiura’s movie a distinct feel amongst its contemporaries in Japan.

The film’s story gets off to a weird start, but quickly establishes the slightly futuristic world that it takes place in. It all revolves around an artificial intelligence named Shion that is posing as a school student as part of a final test by the huge tech company that runs the town and its private school. However, things quickly go south as Shion has a habit of breaking into song (but hey, high schoolers can be awkward) and eventually has a malfunction in front of five students, who decide to cover up the experiment for the sake of Satomi, whose mother is the lead designer on the A.I. and has her job on the line.

By keeping the secret of Shion’s true nature to themselves, the five students quickly have a new bond and reason to come together. There’s plenty of comedy as they work together to keep Shion’s secret from being exposed and drama as the students are each dealing with their own issues and insecurities. This interplay between the leads and Shion quickly becomes the crux of the film and their enjoyable banter keeps the plot moving well.

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While it certainly has some slice-of-life elements in it, Sing a Bit of Harmony winds up exploring quite a few interesting themes throughout its 1 hour and 49-minute runtime. Shion constantly asks Satomi, who has traditionally been a bit of a loner at school, if she’s happy. What follows is an interesting examination of happiness and friendship, all told via a robot that isn’t quite sure how to define these complicated and messy ideals either.

While not as upfront as the core story that revolves around coming together, the film also has a darker side to its universe as it explores the notion of technology as a tool and how artificial intelligence can shape the world. The mega-corporation that controls the town can only really be defined as dystopian, even if not very far-off, and there are plenty of humanoid robots doing work in fields during all hours of the day in order to produce rice. While the beauty of A.I. and its possibilities are explored with Shion, the fact that this can all go wrong is always looming and is told well in the background.

However, Sing a Bit of Harmony is still a very upbeat tale at its core. Each member of its core group is very likable, with each member going through meaningful development throughout its story, and the infectiously positive personality of Shion (voiced by Tao Tsuchiya in Japanese and Megan Shipman in the English dub) is a real highlight. The songs throughout are beautifully performed in both versions, and the final act has plenty of emotional moments that serve as a great payoff for the time invested.

SCORE: 8/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 8 equates to “Great.” While there are a few minor issues, this score means that the game succeeds at its goal and leaves a memorable impact.


Disclosure: The publisher provided ComingSoon with screeners for both the English dub and Japanese sub for our Sing a Bit of Harmony review.

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