Zipangu Film Festival Strikes Newcastle

Following on from its showing at the Institute of Contemporary Arts the Zipangu Japanese film festival moves to Newcastle’s Star and Shadow cinema in the second half of January where the following films will be shown.

The Ghost Cat and the Mysterious Shamisen

Saturday 14th January, 19:30

Kiyohiko Ushihara (1897-1985), one of Japan’s leading directors of the silent period, is relatively unknown in the west but The Ghost Cat and the Mysterious Shamisen gets a rare screening. This is, an early chiller especially subtitled for Zipangu Fest, and a rare chance to experience one of Japan’s few surviving prewar horrors, a genre that was soon to be suppressed by the increasing state censorship of the wartime years. A quintessential example of the period “ghost cat” (bakeneko or kaibyo) movie, the movie follows Mitsue, the possessive onna-kabuki actress betrothed to apprentice shamisen player Seijiro. When one day Okiyo, a beautiful young girl of samurai class, is led to Seijiro’s house by his lost cat Kuro, she becomes besotted with him. Dark jealous passions are invoked in Mitsue, which are intensified when Seijiro gifts Okiyo his precious shamisen. The cat is the first to suffer at the end of Mitsue’s hairpin, but returns from the grave to assist Okiyo’s younger sister Onui avenge her sister’s murder.

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Genki Winter 2012 Anime Picks

Genkina hito's Winter 2012 Picks

Okay so one of my new year’s resolutions was:

In the first week of 2012, I will pick the Spring season anime I will watch and finish them quickly instead of dragging them out over a year,

Start off easy… The reason why I made this resolution was two-fold:

  1. I write for anime websites and I frequently come across trailers and plot synopses that intrigue me.
  2. I rarely start watching anime at the same time as others so when I visit favourite anime blogs I have to skip most content to avoid spoilers.

So here’s my Winter 2012 picks:

Rinne no Lagrange

Rinne no Largrange is a show that crosses girls and mecha in a collaboration between Production I.G. who are handling the story and Xebec who are producing it. Interestingly the car maker Nissan is providing robot designs.

Kamogawa City lies east of Tokyo next to the sea and this is where a young girl named Madoka lives. She is a proud girl with high spirits who helps people. One day she receives an unusual request, “Can you pilot a robot?” This request leads to a new life where she is part of a trio of mecha pilots defending the city from invaders from space

The production staff includes many industry veterans who have worked on a wide range of shows from Wolf’s Rain and Macross to Princess Jellyfish and Heroic Age. Interesting names include the overall director Tatsuo Satou who worked on Martian Successor Nadesico, while the character designs are by Takushige Norita who worked on Broken Blade and Chizuru Kobayashi who worked on Pandora Hearts. Screenplays were written by a team including Shoutaro Suga (Darker than Black) and Shigeru Morita (Gundam Seed, Blood+).

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Noein: To Your Other Self

It has been a year since I watched the final episode of Noein and I had intended to put this review up sooner but with 2012 hitting and me entering my other (better) self, now seems like the perfect chance to post it.

Noein Promotional Poster At first glance there does not seem to be much that distinguishes Noein from other titles and for me this was a random purchase because the price was cheap. A brief synopsis makes it sound like Evangelion; normal kids battling inter-dimensional beings whilst dealing with emotions. After watching it, I can say that it was a highly enjoyable, memorable ride that mixes that Schrödinger’s Cat multi-verse babble with growing up.

The story is split between two time zones: In the near future, a violent battle takes place between the dimensions La’cryma, protector of humanity, and Shangri-la, a place inhabited by beings bent on annihilating space and time. Standing up against Shangri-la’s aggression is a group of mighty warriors known as the dragon cavalry, super-human beings who are tasked with seeking the one thing that can stop Shangri-la, the dragon torque which sees them travel through time and space in search of it.

Haruka and her Mother in NoeinIn the present, 12 year old Haruka and her group of friends are living in the port city of Hakodate in Hokkaido with little to worry them other than the emotional state of their friend Yuu who is contemplating running away from home and an over-protective mother. Haruka has a crush on Yuu and suggests the two go to Tokyo where her father lives but they encounter one of the dragon cavalry in the form of Karasu (crow). His connection to the two runs deeper than any of them can imagine.

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