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Blue Giant Release Date, Cast, Trailer, Plot And More Details

There's never been a better time to be a fan of anime, with so many underrated shows available to stream. Viewers also have a plethora of underappreciated anime movies out there to enjoy. And the catalog of options continues to grow, with new titles always coming out, including the highly anticipated film adaptation of the manga "Blue Giant."

The well-crafted illustrations and writing of Shinichi Ishizuka make up the very popular "Blue Giant" manga series, which was serialized in Shogakukan's Big Comic between 2013 and 2016. It was well received by readers (there are over 10 million copies in circulation) and it went on to win the Grand Prize in the Manga Division of the 2017 Japan Media Arts Festival Awards. It was followed by two sequels: "Blue Giant Supreme," which was serialized in the same publication between 2016 and 2020, and "Blue Giant Explorer," which debuted in Big Comic in 2020 and is still ongoing at the time of this writing in 2023.

The "Blue Giant" story follows Dai Miyamoto, a high school student who discovers that he has a previously unknown love of jazz music — especially the saxophone — and his journey to becoming proficient at his new passion. Fans of the property were no doubt thrilled to hear that an anime adaptation was in the works when it was announced in 2021, and we know a lot more about the movie now. Here's everything you need to know about "Blue Giant."

When will Blue Giant be released?

When "Blue Giant" was first announced in 2021, the film was expected to come out in Japan sometime in 2022, but the release date was later pushed back so the creators could "express the world of the film better," Crunchyroll reported. It was eventually released in Japanese movie theaters on February 17, 2023 and went on to make over a billion yen at the box office, with over 690,000 tickets sold.

The North American release is being handled by GKIDS, who snapped up the rights after the film performed well in Japan. "'Blue Giant' is a thrilling and moving exploration of what it takes to pursue true artistic and creative excellence," president David Jesteadt told Variety. "We are proud to share this special film that captures the spirit of the beloved manga for a new audience, with one of the best soundtracks I've heard in years." 

And now, we know exactly when we'll get to see this musical tale play out. "Blue Giant" will hit North American theaters for two days only — October 8 and October 9. However, if you happen to live in New York City, there will be an advance showing at Manhattan's Japan Society on October 6.

What is the plot of Blue Giant?

Dai Miyamoto travels to Europe and then America in the sequels "Blue Giant Supreme" and "Blue Giant Explorer," but the anime film is based on the original manga series and covers his time cutting his teeth in Japan. The self-taught sax player from Sendai travels to Tokyo and breaks into the jazz scene after forming a trio with pianist Sawabe and drummer Tamada. "The main story to be told in the film is the growth of young people who are desperately sincere about jazz, but it is not a film with a high threshold that is limited to jazz lovers, and we are aiming for a film that can be enjoyed by people who have never heard of jazz before," director Yuzuru Tachikawa told Crunchyroll. "I believe that what lies at the root of the original 'Blue Giant' manga is a more universal 'attractive way of life' of human beings."

Sadly, Tachikawa's attempts at aiming for a broader audience make "Blue Giant" feel like something of a missed opportunity. The film barely scratches the surface when it comes to getting into what makes jazz such a unique genre, instead adopting a formula often used in shonen shows. "The trio's progression to the top feels less like a musical journey and more like a battle anime, with increasingly larger venues instead of increasingly stronger opponents — and in which the recipe for victory is always a rousing speech by the group's fearless leader," The Japan Times noted in its review. The music — which comes by way of jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara — is enjoyable, but don't expect a deconstruction of jazz.

Who stars in Blue Giant?

The three primary characters of "Blue Giant" are essentially played by two people apiece, with one person handling the voicework and another handling all the music. For example, lead character Dai Miyamoto is voiced by Yuki Yamada. While he's got a few anime roles on his resume, Yamada is best known for his live action work. He's played Joe Gibken (aka Gokai Blue) in the "Super Sentai" franchise, and he more recently appeared in the Palme d'Or-winning film "Shoplifters." Whenever Dai picks up a saxophone in "Blue Giant," those soulful sounds are provided by Tomoaki Baba.

Dai's bandmate Shunji Tamada is voiced by Amane Okayama, another actor best known for his live action roles (most notably that of Hiroshi Sajima in the mystery-thriller series "Zero: The Bravest Money Game"). When Tamada sits down at the drums, Millennium Parade's Shun Ishiwaka takes over. Finally, pianist Yukinori Sawabe is voiced by Shōtarō Mamiya (who was also in "Zero: The Bravest Money Game," playing the character Seigi Suezaki). Whenever he tickles the ivories, you're hearing Hiromi Uehara, who wrote all of the music for the movie.

The creator of the manga expressed his excitement at having these talented individuals on board, especially the musicians. "We are extremely fortunate to have Hiromi Uehara-san, one of the best pianists in the jazz world, as the film's music director," Shinichi Isuzuka told Crunchyroll. "Together with Tomoaki Baba-san on saxophone and Shun Ishiwaka-san on drums, two sincere young players, they spun the sound of the film 'Blue Giant' through a process of trial and error. It is very powerful music. Thank you, Uehara-san, Baba-san, and Ishiwaka-san, for the super cool sound!"

Who directs Blue Giant?

As previously mentioned, sitting in the director's chair for the "Blue Giant" anime film is none other than Yuzuru Tachikawa, who has several notable credits on his resume. He is known for directing 25 episodes of "Mob Psycho 100," which many consider to be one of the best anime shows of all time, as well as the popular anime series "Deca-Dence" and "Death Parade." Tachikawa has also helmed single episodes of big shows like "Steins;Gate," "Attack on Titan," "Kill la Kill," and "Saga of Tanya the Evil." More recently, he helmed the critically acclaimed "Detective Conan: Black Iron Submarine," the 26th film in the long-running franchise. The anime movie broke records when it hit cinemas in April 2023, earning over 3 billion yen to become the highest-grossing "Detective Conan" movie ever.

Tachikawa brings a certain flavor to everything that he does, and he was certainly passionate about "Blue Giant." "I want you to experience with me the story of the main character, 'Dai,' who makes sounds as if he burns his life with all his strength every day and his friends with conflicts," Tachikawa told Crunchyroll. "I hope this film will answer the question, "I want to do something, but I don't know what to do." There is no denying that the people involved in the "Blue Giant" film, especially the director, were as passionate about making the flick the best it can be as Dai Miyamoto is about his love for jazz.

Who wrote the screenplay for Blue Giant?

The "Blue Giant" film was penned by the writer known only as Number 8, who worked as an editor on Shinichi Ishizuka's original manga. They are relatively new to the manga scene, but they've been busy over the past few years. Number 8's other work is a far cry from the world of "Blue Giant" — they're known for their samurai stories.

In 2022, they wrote two manga about warring samurai clans. The first one, released on April 10, is called "Kaze no Yari" (meaning "Spear of the Wind") and has been highly recommended by Ishizuka. Set during the Sengoku Period (also known as the Warring States Period), it follows samurai and artist Honda Tadakatsu, a real life figure who played a key part in the formation of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Number 8's second release of 2022 — released on August 7 — is titled "Abura," and it has a similarly thrilling story for history enthusiasts. This one is set during Japan's Bakumatsu Period and centers on the clashes between the Shinsengumi (a group of swordsmen who protected Kyoto during the dying days of the Tokugawa Shogunate) and the splinter group Goryo-eji, who opposed them on ideological grounds.

Is there a trailer for Blue Giant?

Released in December 2022, the trailer for "Blue Giant" begins with the breathtaking visual of Dai Miyamoto playing his saxophone in the snow by a river. From there, we see him cross paths with pianist Yukinori Sawabe and drummer Shunji Tamada as they join forces to make jazz magic. We see a number of Tokyo landmarks, all beautifully animated by Nut, the studio behind the likes of "Deca-Dence" and "Saga of Tanya the Evil." The images here are absolutely gorgeous, and the trailer does a great job of highlighting what the film entails: The incredible music, the conflict between the band members, and their dedication to their musical craft.

Watching this will no doubt get you in the mood to see "Blue Giant" — but whether it will ever come out in the United States, be it in cinemas or via a streaming service, remains to be seen. We'll be keeping an eye on the latest developments regarding a wider release, so watch this space. What's certain is that fans of the source material are dying to see it, in either dub or sub form. Commenting on the trailer, YouTube user @leahhoward7645 said: "When can I see this in English or w English subtitles? Does anyone know?" Another user, @nishikos.5631, added: "I cant wait for this to come out!! I love jazz and it reminds me of kids on the slope, one of my favs, so im totally excited!!"

What are fans and critics saying about Blue Giant?

The critical response to "Blue Giant" has been mixed so far. On My Anime List, users have praised it for its depiction of post-high school malaise as well as the music. "Never before was there a performance that makes you immersed within the blazing sparks of heated jazz along with the eloquent sakuga blooming the instruments to life," said user HaiKaneDesu. "It truly was a magical experience." They went on to compare the animation to "Demon Slayer" in parts — with the notable exception of the GCI scenes.

The use of CGI to bring some of the trickier musical moments to life has been divisive among fans. In its review of the movie, Crunchyroll criticized these jarring visuals. "The CG animation used to cover these performances feels haphazard as it not only noticeably clashes with the design aspects of the 2D work, it reduces this freeform medium into robotic, cold, jerky movements. It feels like an AI interpretation of a soul: technically correct, but lacking the human meaning that gives these performances life." We'll have to wait and see how the film fares among American critics after it opens in the States.