Bungaku Shoujo or Literature Girl is about a young girl, Touka Amano who eats books. Yes she literally eats books. She can’t eat normal food apparently. Of course it would have been really nice of the story to actually tell us WHY she eats books but unfortunately we have to divine that answer for ourselves. Perhaps I could have slit open a goat’s stomach or read the source materials in order to get the answer to that but honestly why should I have to? That’s the movie’s job to provide me with those necessary answers. The only answer we are given is she’s a literature girl, as if that explains everything. And thus that is the main problem with the entire movie in general, it’s called Literature Girl but it’s really not even about her. Touka is basically a side character in her own movie.
Well the real story eventually reveals itself to be about a young writer, Konoha Inoue who after winning an important literary contest a couple years before and subsequently his novel became a national sensation. But do to a personal tragedy that followed this, he has vowed to never write again. Konoha lives as an ordinary high school student since his book was published under a pseudonym and he has remained anonymous. Rather far-fetched idea really as he has seemingly managed to keep this a secret from his family as well. Of course this completely ignores the fact that it is also incredibly unlikely that a middle school student is going to have the ability to write such a novel to begin with. But I digress.
The film begins like aforementioned coat of a pill: sweetly and light-heartedly like your typical romantic story. But then it throws the viewer into whirlpool of despair and psychological problems. It wasn’t the stuff I expected after watching that OVA, but I have to admit that Literature Girl works perfectly as drama. The plot is a bit rushed in the beginning and has some sharp angles but it is good at one certain thing: transmitting necessary feelings to the viewer. Literature Girl is a very atmospheric creation, and the music really helps here. Those piano-center arrangements are definitely a good choice for a film of such kind. Two major themes of movie are romance (of course) and books. Yeah, the books help us to express ourselves; thanks to them we can share our experience, dreams and emotions. I am somewhat an amateur writer myself and I enjoy writing short stories, so I appreciate Literature Girl for exploring the role of literature in our life.
The drama that unfolds does manage to be pretty compelling however. I did find myself engaged and interested in the story. While the major story arc is adequately resolved to many additional questions linger at the end. As mentioned before we learn really next to nothing about Touka herself. The only reason I think I understood it as much as I did was by additionally watching the preview OVA and the Memorie OVA. I would suggest anyone interested in this title to do the same to get the maximum amount of enjoyment from it. I am unclear as to whether this movie will get a follow up movie or perhaps even a TV/OVA series to further explain all of this but taking this film by itself as it currently stands, I would have to say as an adaptation it fails.
As mentioned the titular character, Touka is really left to be mostly a mystery. Personality wise I found her to be a likable character which a lot of potential if they had explored it. She felt like an odd mix-mash of Haruhi Suzumiya and Yuki Nagato. But other than being likable she really doesn’t make that much of an impression. The male lead Inoue is typical for the genre. A soft spoken, effeminate nice guy. Though I did feel he was presented very well and made for an interesting character. The struggles he has in dealing with his own personal demons I think were mostly realistic and understandable.
With one exception, the rest of the supporting cast is mostly just background. The only ones who really even stood out to me at all were the ones voiced by actors I happen to like. Above all the characters would be Miu Asakura, who is at the center of all of the stories drama. She is both the films chief antagonist and protagonist, particularly over the last half of the movie. Miu by far has the biggest impact on the film and really steals the show for herself. When you consider she’s voiced by Aya Hirano, I suppose it’s not surprising she would have the most impactful role. While Miu makes for an extremely convincing psychopath, some of the reasons behind her mental break didn’t exactly add up to what she eventually became. This being said, she is the brightest spot in the show character wise.
Artistically the film is good. The backgrounds are quite stunning and color palette is soft and pleasant. Musically this film is just average. Neither the films background music nor ED song was really that moving, despite the latter being performed by eufonius. Overall this movie only rates as average with me. Sure I did actually enjoy the movie quite a bit despite all its warts. However the large number of important questions about the overall story and title character really detracts from it as a whole. Until such time more of this information is presented to us in future works, then I suspect only fans of the original works would really get much out of this film.