For years, I’ve been meaning to read “Blue Giant,” the manga by Shinichi Ishizuka about a young man from rural Japan striving to become the world’s greatest jazz musician. One thing always stops me, though: In comics, you can’t hear the music.
This particular problem has now been solved with a film adaptation of “Blue Giant,” out in theaters tomorrow, and here’s the good news: The soundtrack, composed by jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara, is fiery, bold and sounds great pumping through cinema speakers. In other aspects, however, “Blue Giant” is less than supreme.
The film’s main character is Dai (voiced by Yuki Yamada), an 18-year-old from northern Japan who hops on the first bus to Tokyo following his high school graduation to try to break into the jazz world. A self-taught tenor sax player, he’s honed his chops through enough hours of practice to make Malcolm Gladwell blush. A combination of those skills and an almost painfully earnest attitude earn him quick allies, including the owner of a local jazz bar and an arrogant wunderkind pianist named Sawabe (Shotaro Mamiya). Dai and Sawabe form a trio alongside Dai’s roommate and drum neophyte Tamada (Amane Okayama) and the three start gigging around town, earning fans and gaining the attention of promoters and record label executives.