There are times when you hear about an animated movie and ponder if it coud have been made in live action. Blue Thermal would seem like a movie that could have easily been done in live action with college age actors playing the various characters. But as you watch it, you realize that this tale of kids involved in gliders would be extremely hard to film in live action. The filmmakers would eventually have to resort to various CGI techniques that were used in Top Gun: Maverick. If you’re going to use that much CGI, what’s the point of putting real actors in front of the green screen? The logistics of capturing the in-flight action would zoom up the budget. Adapting the five-volume manga series to animation allows a viewer to experience the story without noticing the special effects. Kana Ozawa’s books fly onto the screen as Blue Thermal.
Tamaki Tsuru (voiced by Mayu Hotta) leaves home to attend Aonagi University in Nagasaki. The various student clubs try their best to recruit freshman for their extracurricular fun. Tamaki has one picked out, but a strange accident leads to her getting attached to the glider club. She doesn’t have a background in flight, but a twist of fate gets her into joining up so that she can help them compete in a major event. She’s nervous about going up in a glider that has no engine. Once way up in the sky, she finds herself enraptured by the view high above the ground. She also gets caught up with certain people that are part of the glider club. This is a soaring romance.
Thermal Blue is breathtaking film when watching it on a large HDTV screen. The glider scenes are involving as we get close to the cockpit and see Tamaki and other characters reactions to the bird’s eye view of the world. You can get into the action after the pull plane has released the glider. Director Masaki Tachibana have captured the little details involved in the powerless flight. They also perfectly illustrate how the nervous Tamaki becomes an expert behind the controls during the school year. I only wish my college had a cool glider club. Thermal Blue is a perfect Spring film for when you want to get lost in the clouds.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The Blu-ray transfer brings out the great ariel artwork. The audio is Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0. Either version sound good depending on your speaker system. The movie is subtitled in English.
Interview with Director Masaki Tachibana (7:44) has him immediately praising the crew that Telecom Animation. he was originally hired to put the five Blue Thermal Magna books into a TV series, but they figured it would be best in a single feature film. He goes into the characters and music.
Character Highlights are a series of minute long clips that go into the five main characters.
Trailer (1:02) defines Blue Thermal immediately with footage of the gliders in the sky.
Shout! Factory and Eleven Arts present Blue Thermal. Directed by Masaki Tachibana. Screenplay by Masaki Tachibana and Natsuko Takahashi. Starring the voices of Mayu Hotta, Nobunaga Shimazaki, Junya Enoki, Haruka Shiraishi and Yok Taichi. Rated: Not Rated. Running Time: 104 minutes. Release Date: March 14, 2023.