Sing a Bit of Harmony releases in theaters on January 23, 2022. The anime film is directed by Yasuhiro Yoshiura and features several songs as an A.I. posing as a school student attempts to make a loner find happiness. It is Funimation’s first co-production along with high-profile creators Bandai Namco Arts (Space Dandy), Shochiku (91 Days), and veteran anime studio J.C. Staff.
“Sing a Bit of Harmony tells the story of the beautiful and mysterious Shion (Megan Shipman) who transfers to Keibu High School where she quickly becomes popular for her open-hearted personality and exceptional athletic talent… but she turns out to be an AI (artificial intelligence) in the testing phase! Shion’s goal is to bring chronic loner Satomi (Risa Mei) “happiness.” But her strategy is something no human would expect: she serenades Satomi in the middle of the classroom,” says the official synopsis. “After finding out that Shion is an AI, Satomi and her childhood friend, engineering geek Toma (Jordan Dash Cruz), steadily warm up to the new student. Along with the popular and attractive Gotchan (Ian Sinclair), the strong-willed Aya (Alexis Tipton), and judo club member “Thunder” (Kamen Casey), they become more and more moved by Shion’s singing voice and earnestness even as her antics bewilder them. But what Shion does for Satomi’s sake ends up involving them all in some serious pandemonium… Get ready for the heartwarming story of a not quite market-ready AI and her classmates!”
ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to Sing a Bit of Harmony voice actors Ian Sinclair and Jordan Dash Cruz about their roles of Gotchan and Toma, getting to sing, and the future of artificial intelligence.
Tyler Treese: Jordan, this is one of your biggest roles yet, especially for a film. We see Tоma go through a lot of growth here and he is a lot more than just the engineering geek he’s introduced as. How rewarding was it to be playing such a large role and have so much work with?
Jordan Dash Cruz: It was great. Whenever I went into it, I was very, very excited because as you stated, it’s one of my biggest things that I’ve done. I was honored to be a part of it and working with [ADR Director] Caitlin [Glass], having someone like Ian [Sinclair] in the cast, it was phenomenal. When we were recording, I wouldn’t always get the other actors in there, but whenever I would, I would just be like, “Oh man, everyone just sounds so good.” So it was very, very rewarding and it was really cool to see just Tоma’s growth throughout the film. And I absolutely loved it, man. [laughs]
Ian, Gotchan is interesting because he’s presented as this guy that has it all going for him, but he has some self-confidence issues. He views himself as an “80 percenter.” How do you speak to his insecurity and what made him so interesting to play for you?
Ian Sinclair: I think everybody that you ever talk to is insecure about something and the coolest people I have ever met, they’re some of the most insecure people I’ve ever met. I understand why he’s so insecure. I think the feeling of wanting to have something that you love and that makes you happy and he’s jealous that there are people like Tоma that know what they want and know what they’re about. And I’m personally jealous of anybody that really knows themselves and knows what they’re about and really loves it because I’m getting gray and I’m still trying to figure that out myself.
Jordan, there’s a theme of happiness throughout and trying to find it and what it means to be happy. And there’s also this importance of checking in on people. What theme really resonated to you the most in this film?
Cruz: Yeah, for me, I think it was just finding that happiness. It was really interesting because this film was very realistic. There was a lot of characters and their personalities that I think will resonate with the audience. A lot of the audience might say, “Hey, I see myself in this character.” And it was just them coming together under the circumstances and working together and figuring things out and supporting one another. I really appreciated that. And I really love just the fact that the film is just so down to earth and just showcases very realistic archetypes and characteristics about people.
Ian, you have a key role in One Piece and you’ve been in so many long-running shows. So how does it compare when you’re inhabiting this one character and going through a lot with them in a small amount of time compared to doing a longer series where the character development is few and far between?
Sinclair: That’s a great question. It was a much faster character arc to go through. It was special for me because in those shows you mentioned and others, I usually play very big characters who are very bombastic and loud and have a lot of vocal ticks. And getting to work with Caitlin, she’s put me a few shows where she has really found a very kind, very soft part of my voice that I love and I love connecting to, because I’m able to get to some core truths and vulnerabilities within me. And when I can get to those raw moments within myself, I’m able to bring a lot of truth. And I’m very proud of that when I get to do it. So being able to do something that was a very simple small, grounded performance that I was able to have such growth in in such small amount of time was a real treat.
Jordan, what are your thoughts on the AI-heavy future the film presents? Because we see the beauty of it with Shion, but it’s also almost dystopian. We have this mega-corporation and the robots in the rice fields. Is that where we’re headed? What do you think about this?
Cruz: [laughs] I almost feel like we’re kind of getting there now with just with the AI technology that a lot of us rely on like asking for the weather or turning a light on or just finding out how cold it’s gonna be outside. We’re starting to rely pretty heavily on it. I’m not sure if we’re maybe there yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if technology continues to evolve and advance and we’re able to be a part of it.
Sinclair: I bet you right now, there is an AI picking rice somewhere. I bet. No, but for real, like agricultural technology probably is to the point right now where it is doing that. Is it humanoid?
I actually did some research and I found one that looked like a Roomba that was doing it.
Sinclair: See? That’s what I was thinking.
Ian, were there any specific moments that stuck out during recording? Was there any scene that was particularly fun or anything that really resonated with you?
Sinclair: My scenes with Alexis Tipton were a joy as we tried to really find the truth of relationships, especially at a time in your life when everything means so much. And you start to read into things incorrectly because you don’t have all that experience. She was such a good scene partner that it was just super easy. I’d say the singing was also a lot of fun, but that’s because I was told pretty quickly that I didn’t have to be a great singer and I’m not gonna name the other shows, but in some other shows, I have to play people who are good at singing and that’s always very nerve wracking and I get nervous that am I hitting the right key and everything, but when you’re told, “Oh, this guy is just a normal person, he doesn’t have to sing well,” and the relief washes over you. And then you’re just able to have fun with it. And that plays through.
Jordan, Tоma joins in on the singing once in a while, too. How was that to record?
Cruz: [laughs] It was it was an experience, that’s for sure. I can’t say too much about it. Obviously, no spoilers or anything, but it was very interesting. And many, many laughs were shared. [laughs]
Ian, there was something really wonderful about seeing all these different students come together for a common goal and the film gets pretty emotional at a certain point. So what does it mean for you to be involved with art that really does have an important message at its core?
Sinclair: I think about that with this film a lot. I think about how this film really focuses on the theme of finding what is happiness to you. Happiness is something different for everybody. And so it’s important that you figure out what makes you happy, and then when you do, you go for it and you grab onto it. And if this film just inspires a few people to really sit down and figure out what makes them happy and then go for it, then we really put some good into the world. And that’s just the best feeling.
Jordan, what are your thoughts on that and what do you hope people take away from seeing A Bit of Harmony?
Cruz: I think the film’s very realistic. I think a lot of people will see themselves in these characters and just like how Ian said, it explores the theme of happiness and how happiness is different for other people. But it’s still an emotion that we all feel. So I really do hope that people can watch this and take away from it. And maybe they’re able to be inspired by this film, or they’re able to say, “Watching this movie really helped me through a dark time because the last two years haven’t necessarily been the best.” I really hope people are able to just take away from this film and they’re able to leave the theaters with a smile on their face.