‘Blue Giant’ isn’t just for jazz fans — it’s the best anime film coming to streaming this year

Blue Giant jazz anime poster
(Image credit: GKIDS)

“Blue Giant,” the 2023 music anime that seemed to come out of nowhere, proved to be an utter delight and quite the surprise when I first read about it a few months prior. 

While Japan certainly has its fair share of jazz history, an anime focusing on the genre might at first seem totally random and not all too appealing, but “Blue Giant” far surpasses many of the best anime movies I’ve ever seen and will leave viewers (like myself) questing for more.

Despite this incredible appeal, with its current score on MyAnimeList sitting at 8.36 percent alongside a score of 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, “Blue Giant” is almost impossible to stream. The anime is licensed by GKIDS in North America, just like Studio Ghibli’s recent masterwork "The Boy and the Heron," with Blu-ray, DVD, and a digital release scheduled for April 30.

As an avid jazz lover, I couldn’t pass up sharing this momentous musical experience, especially on the cusp of Crunchyroll’s Anime Awards, in which “Blue Giant” is nominated for Best Anime Film. Even if you’re not a fan of jazz (or anime alone), “Blue Giant” still proves to be utterly captivating and shows just how far music can take us — and bring us ever closer.

Jazz personified

Blue Giant anime featuring JASS band

(Image credit: GKIDS)

Jazz may not be the first pick on most favorite genre lists, but I’ve loved this type of music ever since I was quite young. My mom used to play smooth jazz for me on my rides to school and about town when running errands on the weekend. I guess it just stuck with me over the years. 

That’s one of the main reasons why I gravitated toward “Blue Giant,” which first debuted back in February 2023. The jazz anime film stars budding saxophonist Dai Miyamoto, voiced by Yuki Yamada, on his quest to become the best jazz player — no, not just in his small town, nor even in Japan. Dai wants to become the very best jazz player in the world, and to do this he must first travel to the neon-streaked streets of Tokyo and start a band. 

The animated jazz epic is produced by NUT and directed by Yuzuru Tachikawa, a name many might be familiar with as heading up one or several episodes among the best anime shows for beginners, like “Bleach,” “Steins;Gate,” “Mob Psycho 100,” and even “Attack on Titan.” Thus, it was placed in the aptest hands imaginable and it shows — best of all experienced in the moments where the jazz itself takes center stage and the animation turns otherworldly. 

You’ll want to pair “Blue Giant” with one of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, too. It features an original soundtrack led by Hiromi Uehara, a renowned Japanese jazz pianist and composer. Several songs have already become major hits, with my personal favorites being “First Note,” “N.E.W.,” and (aptly) “Blue Giant.”

And even beyond its music, “Blue Giant” leaves you feeling totally immersed, one with the sounds that blare through its animated touchstones, pulling your heartstrings as much as your ears with a narrative that’s just as enthralling as it is totally cool.

The coolest anime yet 

Blue Giant jazz anime scene overlooking Tokyo

(Image credit: GKIDS)

With the Crunchyroll Anime Awards soon upon us, “Blue Giant” stakes its claim as among the nominees for Best Anime Film of 2023. It’s got some hefty competition in the form of Makoto Shinkai’s “Suzume,” one of the best anime for Valentine’s Day, and “The First Slam Dunk,” a veritable slam dunk itself if I don’t say so myself. 

It’s hard to say if “Blue Giant” can topple these heavy hitters, but if the fictional band of JASS says anything about going against the grain, this jazz anime epic certainly could prove victorious and definitely is deserving of the title. The end sequence alone is one of the most well-animated, music-fueled experiences I’ve ever seen and it’s punctuated with such a lovely message of following your dreams to their fullest. 

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"Blue Giant" anime Blu-ray pre-order: <a href="https://store.gkids.com/products/blue-giant?_pos=1&_sid=f5d204de8&_ss=r" data-link-merchant="store.gkids.com"" target="_blank">was $26.98 now $19.95 @ GKIDS 

"Blue Giant" is one of the best anime movies to release this year. It features a totally captivating narrative that's punctuated with a stellar jazz-fueled soundtrack led by renowned Japanese jazz pianist Hiromi. It's officially available come April 30, 2024. 

Also available for digital pre-order <a href="https://tv.apple.com/channel/tvs.sbd.4000?at=1001l369U&ct=hawk-custom-tracking&itscg=30200&itsct=Future_TV" data-link-merchant="tv.apple.com"" data-link-merchant="store.gkids.com"" target="_blank">@ Apple TV Plus

Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait to stream “Blue Giant” on Apple TV Plus, or experience it via Blu-ray/DVD, as the film doesn’t release until April 30 and won’t be on any of the best Crunchyroll alternatives until then. As of writing, it’s been added to over 14,000 Plan to Watch lists on MyAnimeList, showing the immediate demand “Blue Giant” wields over the anime populace.

Given that “Blue Giant” is adapted from Shin’ichi Ishizuka’s 2013 manga, it’s safe to assume that follow-up installments, like “Blue Giant Supreme” and “Blue Giant Explorer,” will also be coming to the big screen in some capacity. With the immense success afforded the first iteration (and a touching post-credit scene to boot), I’m hoping we see more of Dai Miyamoto’s continued efforts — and maybe eventual stardom as the world’s best jazz player ever.

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Ryan Epps
Staff Writer

Ryan Epps is a Staff Writer under the TV/AV section at Tom's Guide focusing on TVs and projectors. When not researching PHOLEDs and writing about the next major innovation in the projector space, he's consuming random anime from the 90's, playing Dark Souls 3 again, or reading yet another Haruki Murakami novel.