Schoolyard romance, musical numbers and lifelike robotics collide in this animated glimpse at what teenage life might look like in a world increasingly run by artificial intelligence.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
Introducing an AI twist to high school drama, anime feature Sing a Bit of Harmony imagines a world where technology has, refreshingly, not given rise to a dystopian nightmare but instead made convenient tweaks to daily life.
A classic loner, schoolgirl Satomi’s fortune takes a turn when popular new student Shion arrives at school with a big secret and penchant for breaking into song. Unbeknownst to the rest of the school, Shion is a human-like AI developed by Satomi’s mother, being put through an unauthorised test to see if she can pass as human among local school kids.
It soon becomes clear Shion has no intention of blending in, instead becoming something of a high-tech fairy godmother, hacking the school’s gadgetry to help her fellow teens with various romantic woes. Japanese creator and director Yasuhiro Yoshiura give age-old tropes (the mean popular girl, the overlooked geek) the Mary Poppins-meets-replicant treatment, solving classic teen dilemmas through this winsome, songbird AI.
Fun, joyous and gorgeous to look at, Sing a Bit of Harmony is sci-fi with a big heart and rare optimism. — Adrian Hatwell