Conscientious and quiet teenager Satomi (voiced in Japanese by Haruka Fukuhara; voiced in English by Risa Mei) lives with her mother, Mitsuko (voiced in Japanese by Sayaka Ohara; voiced in English by Laila Berzins). Mitsuko is a scientist at a large AI company, Hoshima Electronics. Mitsuko has been working inhumane hours, creating an AI robot named Shion (voiced in Japanese by Tao Tsuchiya; voiced in English by Megan Shipman). Shion is supposed to look and behave so much like a human that she can’t be distinguished from a real human.
Shion is sent for field-testing to Satomi’s high school, where she appears to be a new student. But Satomi accidentally comes across some of her mother’s work files and realises quickly that Shion is in fact her mother’s project.
Even though Shion acts bizarrely, Satomi a group of classmates decide to help Shion fit in and be a success. But as they get to know Shion, it becomes obvious that she’s more than a heap of hardware and software. In fact, she inspires each of them to start dealing with their own personal challenges.
Japanese; animé; musical; fantasy; science fiction; teenage romance
Sing a Bit of Harmony has some violence. For example:
- Shion gets shot.
- It looks like Shion’s body gets destroyed.
- Security guards threaten Satomi and her friends with guns and arrest them. A guard violently pushes one of them against a double-sided mirror.
- A teenage boy has a big bruise on his cheek and explains that his father did it. It seems that the boy was punished with physical violence.
Sing a Bit of Harmony has some sexual references. For example, Shion is described as ‘hot’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Sing a Bit of Harmony shows some use of substances. For example:
- Teenagers are shown vaping. This is presented as negative behaviour.
- Satomi’s mother drinks wine when she’s upset and seems quite drunk.
Nudity and sexual activity
Sing a Bit of Harmony has some nudity and sexual activity. For example, Shion innocently tries to kiss one of the teenage boys. This is presented as funny and isn’t explicit.
There’s no product placement in Sing a Bit of Harmony.
Sing a Bit of Harmony has some coarse language, including ‘what the hell’, ‘bastards’, ‘idiot’, ‘moron’, ‘stupid crap’, ‘shut up’, ‘dummy’ and ‘you suck’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Sing a Bit of Harmony is a Japanese animated science fiction fantasy musical. It has a futuristic setting where artificial intelligence and robots are part of everyday life. It also has some singing scenes that seem a bit odd or awkward, but these make sense as the story unfolds and grows in complexity. And it has many positive role models and messages.
This movie’s mild violence and sense of threat, mild coarse language and complex themes make it most suitable for a teenage or special interest audience.
The main messages from Sing a Bit of Harmony are that people and life are complex, and happiness looks different for different people. Also, although you can gain happiness from making other people happy, it’s also important to look after your own needs.
Values in Sing a Bit of Harmony that you could reinforce with your children include friendship, ambition, acceptance of your own imperfection, courage to fight for what you believe in, and communication.
Sing a Bit of Harmony could also give you the chance to talk with your children about important things like the following:
- Workplace equality: Satomi’s mother is under pressure in a heavily male-dominated work environment. You could talk about the importance of giving everyone the same opportunities and treatment, regardless of gender.
- Coping strategies: when Satomi’s job is on the line, she responds by drinking a bottle of wine. How does the alcohol change her behaviour? What are healthy coping strategies?
- Personal essence: what makes a person? Is it their outside – their body or appearance? Or is it their soul, spirit or personality? And do souls and spirits live on? It’s suggested that Shion’s spirit had been around for a long time, looking out for Satomi, and that the robot body has enabled her to manifest her spirit. And even after Shion’s robot body has gone, her spirit seems to be all-present in the internet. How does this compare to some religious and cultural beliefs?
- Questions about rights: does a robot with artificial intelligence have rights? Is it OK to harass, bully, maltreat or ‘kill’ a robot? When and where do you draw the line? It is implied that Shion really is more than a programmed piece of technology. Rather, she seems to have a soul and feelings. Is this something you could imagine happening in the future? And how should we deal with it?