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Sing A Bit Of Harmony Release Date, Characters And Plot - What We Know So Far

If there's one company that has been at the center of most every American anime fan's life for the past couple of decades, it's Funimation. Since its foundation in 1994, the Texas-based distributor has been responsible for bringing more high-profile anime shows from Japan to North America than you could count — everything from juggernauts like "Dragon Ball" and "One Piece" to cult favorites like "Serial Experiments Lain" and "Cowboy Bebop" to 2010s highlights like "Yuri on Ice," "My Hero Academia," and "Attack on Titan." And, in the last few years, they've also become major players in the film distribution business, handling the U.S. releases of such titles as "Your Name.," "In This Corner of the World," and "The Boy and the Beast."

Now, Funimation is taking another step towards domination of the North American anime market by releasing its first original feature co-production: "Sing a Bit of Harmony." Made in association with Japanese animation studio J.C.Staff, and directed by the renowned Yasuhiro Yoshiura ("Patema Inverted") from a screenplay by himself and Ichirō Ōkouchi, this sci-fi dramedy is already one of the most anticipated animated films of the year. Here's what we know about it thus far.

When will Sing a Bit of Harmony come out?

It has been quite a while since "Sing a Bit of Harmony" (originally titled "Ai no Utagoe wo Kikasete," which translates to "Let me hear you sing of love") was announced by Funimation and J.C.Staff. The two studios first shared news of their collaboration on the original film in September 2020 (via Anime News Network). Anticipation for the first Funimation in-house feature production was high right off the bat, and has only gotten higher as official trailers began to be unveiled: The first one on September 26, 2020, the second one on April 6, 2021, and the third one on July 14.

This latest and most substantial trailer sets an official Japan release date for the film: October 29, 2021. No North America date has been set yet, but, with the Japanese premiere happening so late in the year, history would indicate that Funimation — naturally also acting as the stateside distributor — might hold off on bringing the movie to U.S. theaters until 2022. After all, both "Your Name." and "In This Corner of the World" took over half a year after opening in Japan to make their way to general American audiences. We can't know for sure if that will be the case until Funimation shares official release information for North America, though.

Who are the characters in Sing a Bit of Harmony?

As explained by Funimation on their website, "Sing a Bit of Harmony" hinges on the unique, memorable character of Shion Ashimori. A new student at Keibu High School with an intensely cheerful personality and a knack for helping others with their problems, she is ultimately revealed to be a demo AI android — which comes as shocking news to Satomi Amano, the brooding loner girl whom Shion takes it upon herself to "make happy."

Though most of the movie appears to be centered around the unlikely friendship that blossoms between Satomi and Shion, their other classmates also factor in. The post on the Funimation website cites "[Satomi's] childhood friend, engineering geek Toma," "the popular and attractive Gotchan," "the strong-willed Aya," and "judo club member 'Thunder'" as some of the other friends Shion wins over with her personality and generosity. Going by the latest trailers, the staff at the company that developed Shion also seem to play a major part in the plot.

Both Satomi and Shion are played by prolific Japanese actresses. Haruka Fukuhara, who voices Satomi, is a popular actress and singer who's better-known by anime fans for voicing Cure Custard on "Kirakira☆PreCure a la Mode," and Tao Tsuchiya, who voices Shion, is a screen and stage thespian making her film voice acting debut.

What is Sing a Bit of Harmony about?

The first two trailers for "Sing a Bit of Harmony" focused more on the odd-couple dynamic between the protagonists and the hijinks that ensue as Shion tries valiantly to "make Satomi happy" by serenading her smack in the middle of the classroom, as well as the "missions" Shion goes on to help out everyone around her with their problems. The original one-sentence plot summary spoke only of "a new transfer student interested in her surroundings, and a song that brings happiness to her and her classmates."

It was only with the latest trailer and the full synopsis unveiled by Funimation that it became clear "Sing a Bit of Harmony" may also be a dramatic barn-burner in addition to its previously displayed comedic whimsy. Beneath her bubbly façade, Shion has a secret she can't tell any of her new friends, and the trailer hints at dramatic, high-stake developments in her relationship with the company that developed her. There even appears to be an element of ragtag-bunch action-adventure, as the kids band together to "save" Shion, presumably from the company. As the synopsis puts it, "What Shion does for Satomi's sake ends up involving them all in some serious pandemonium."

The contrast between the peppy first two trailers and the intense third one didn't go unnoticed by YouTube viewers, with a commenter by the name of toto gamer summing it up thusly: "1st two trailers: realistic high school dramedy / This trailer: It just got unreal." Many others also noted, with some surprise, that what once seemed like cute, escapist fun now seems to have all the makings of a serious tear-jerker. Whatever kind of movie "Sing a Bit of Harmony" turns out to be, we couldn't be more excited for it.