Rin’s orchestra marches forward as her songs change the destiny of the stars.
Overview (Spoilers Below):
Rin and her friends Alf and Mel live their lives in a small country village. They’re content with simple pleasures like riding sheep bareback and rolling down grassy hills until everything changes when they find an injured soldier in the woods. That soldier turns out to be Leobort, a captain in the royal army. Rin chooses to help him by singing her song of healing, but the consequences are dire. Rin is one of the few people who have the power of songs, and her healing powers are wanted by the invading soldiers who burn down her entire village, killing her grandfather and adopted sister Mel.
Going on the run, Rin and Al meet up with a variety of colorful characters as they travel through the country, intent on realizing Rin’s dream of singing her songs at the capital with Princess Finis. Things don’t go as planned, though, and eventually they end up involved in a giant battle for the fate of the land. Finis has been caught in some sort of time loop for eons, and she’s determined to bring the entire world to an end for good by singing the song of destruction. It takes all of Rin’s little orchestra banding together to save the world – but Rin herself returns to the place she came from: she is Finis’ lost song of healing.
Lost Song is definitely a ride. Not all of it was smooth, and there were even a few big bumps, but it remained pretty enjoyable throughout its 12 episode season. If you’re in the market for an anime that’s like a Disney musical, then this might be up your alley. There’s definitely a lot of comparisons to be drawn between classic Disney tropes and Lost Song. Things like Rin being an orphan, helping others, and singing songs certainly bring to mind princesses. But as the show moves forward, its connections to old-school musicals wanes and it charts new territory for itself.
Rin herself comes across as a fairly typical anime heroine at first. She’s kind, thoughtful, and has a dream of singing her songs at the royal capital. There’s more to her, though. After going through the loss of her family and village, we learn how resilient she is in the face of devastating loss. Al is a big part of helping her deal with all the newfound trauma. He’s your standard issue kid genius mad scientist, but he’s also got a lot of heart and clearly cares for his friends a whole lot. Then there’s the supporting cast, who are some of my favorites. Siblings Monika and Alyu are a pair of musically-inclined girls who left home to earn money to pay for their mother’s medication. (Monika has an adorably inconvenient habit of falling asleep whenever danger is nearby.) And then there’s the best character of all: Pony Goodfellow, a helpful spitfire princess-in-disguise. I love that her made-up sounding name turns out to be exactly that, merely an alias. She’s outrageously hilarious, and one of the best parts of the show.
This brings me to one of my main issues with Lost Song. Finis and Leobort are arguably some of the most important people in the show, but they still feel like strangers to me after watching all 12 episodes. Throughout most of the show’s runtime, Finis is merely a klutzy, airheaded princess. And I’m not talking charmingly airheaded… Finis literally gets lost in her own palace. She mistakes an attacking enemy knight for her maiden attendant. (Which, admittedly, leads to one of Leobort’s best lines: “That’s not Corte. He has a beard!”) The relationship between these two is also key to the show but is so undeveloped that it’s laughable. We can’t even begin to root for the two of them when we don’t know them as individuals. Leobort is the Perfect Macho Hero and Finis his dumb damsel in distress.
Another of my major complaints with the show is not even about the show itself. It’s about how Netflix chose to produce the English dub. They did not dub the songs, instead opting to leave them in the original Japanese with English subtitles overlaid on top. It’s true that lots of shows do this. Dubbing music is time-consuming and even more difficult than dubbing speech. But for a show with music at its core, I think hearing the songs in English should’ve been an integral part. Even once I knew it was coming, there was still just a disconnect between hearing Rin’s English speaking voice and her Japanese singing voice. It throws viewers off when they should be drawn in. Honestly, much of the singing takes place when the singers are offscreen, so it wouldn’t even have been that arduous a process. I’m just sad and disappointed Netflix didn’t make it happen.
The show’s animation is a solid-looking affair for the most part. There’s a noticeable drop in quality in some later episodes, as characters go off-model and move less fluidly, but things remain fairly consistent. The CGI-animated song sequences are definitely noticeable, but they’re not overly distracting and aren’t in the show enough to be worth complaining about. The soundtrack feels a little understated for a musical show, but what musical themes do show up are nice, mostly soft piano melodies.
All in all, I think there’s a lot of good notes in Lost Song. The storyline is fairly standard fantasy stuff, but it has enough unexpected surprises to keep viewers on their toes. It’s filled with interesting characters who gain more personality and layers as the episodes go on. (Except for Leobolt.) The English dub is very good, except for the undubbed songs. The Lost Song is a unique melody that’s worth hearing- er, watching.