The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival is a small event that takes place over the course of a day at Chapter Arts, a small but trendy (read, hipsterish) art house cinema and theatre space tucked away in a borough of Cardiff, South Wales.The festival may be small but thanks to the passion of its founder it is bright and rapidly expanding with an increasingly ambitious line-up of feature-length and short anime films across a number of genres and for a number of ages. A sign of the changes comes in the change of date, instead of the wintry atmosphere of November, this year’s festival takes place in the heat of Spring and in two locations with the sea-side town Aberystwyth joining the action.
I attended last year’s festival where I made the mistake of not pre-booking a ticket and missed the chance to see Makoto Shinkai’s Children Who Chase Lost Voices which was sold out. Instead I had to spend three hours at the cafe bar nursing a couple of coffees before I watched the rather good Berserk Golden Age Arc I: The Egg of the King. I have been following this festival with great interest because the line-up of films programmed picks some of the best of the titles released in Japan and touring the UK.
The festival is less than a fortnight away and the details have been released. Here are the dates and the films on offer.
Cardiff: Chapter Arts, Saturday 7th June 2014
Aberystwyth: Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Saturday 21st June 2014
Programme of Events 2014 in Cardiff
Throughout the course of the day, Chapter Arts plays host to more than just films! There will be a raffle which will allow people the chance to win anime and manga. There will also be many local traders selling Japanese and Japanese-inspired wares like The Comic Man who will provide a selection of manga, anime, and magazines. Doujinshi artist Kodawari-Chaya will be on location to sell fan illustration books and manga-inspired artist Turnip Starfish will sell original artworks and drawing materials. Other than anime and manga there will be Super Tomato are a specialist videogame seller with many imports and Yakiniku which sells Korean & Japanese food.
Here’s the list of films and times, the titles are links to the page where you can purchase tickets:
11:00 am Patema Inverted
Japanese Title: サカサマ の パテマ
Romaji: Sakasama no Patema
Running Time: 99 mins
Release Date: November 09th, 2013
Director: Yasuhiro Yoshiura
Writer: Yasuhiro Yoshiura (Screenplay/Original Creator)
Starring: Yukiyo Fujii (Patema), Nobuhiko Okamoto (Age), Shintarou Oohata (Porta), Shinya Fukumatsu (G), Masayuki Katou (Lagos),
Yasuhiro Yoshiura is the director/creator of the wonderful Time of Eve, a futuristic drama about androids in a café and the humans that visit them. It was a whimsical show full of great details and gorgeous animation and do you know what was best of all? The characters were relatable and funny. I watched it multiple times and I adore it. This is his latest film and it looks a treat. It has earned great press from critics so far. Here’s the trailer:
The story takes place in an underground world where the members of a village exist in tunnels and confined spaces and must wear protective clothing. Despite this, these underground people still enjoy life, especially Patema, the princess of her underground village, who loves to explore. Her fascination with exploration leads her to a forbidden area where she meets a boy named Age who operates under different gravitational circumstances. The two may come from very different societies but will face strange situations together!
From 11 am – 4 pm Manga Workshop
Teacher: Lexémon from Turnip Starfish
Age: 11 – 16
£29.50 per person
Bookings via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you as mad about Manga and Anime as we are?! This Manga drawing workshop teaches you how to draw and create characters in the popular Japanese style. You will be taught construction techniques to strengthen your artwork and how to pose your Manga characters. You are also encouraged to bring your own sketchbooks to show Manga Expert Lexémon! She will give you tips and tricks to improve your art.
13:15 Double Bill
By Your Side (Short Film)
Director: Tsuneo Goda
Running Time: 5 mins 46s
This short film was the collaboration between Tsuneo Goda, the creator of Domo and the singer Sade for a project called Zapuni which unites Japanese artists with world-renowned musicians to create and dedicate videos to charities that help children affected by the 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster in Japan with the power of music and visuals.
Japanese Title: カラフル
Release Date: August 21st, 2010
Running Time: 126 mins.
Director: Keiichi Hara
Writer: Miho Maruo (Screenplay), Eto Mori (Original Creator)
Starring: Kazato Tomizawa (Makoto Kobayashi), Akina Minami (Hiroaki Kuwabara), Kumiko Aso (Makoto’s Mother), Katsumi Takahashi (Makoto’s Father), Aoi Miyazaki (Shoko Sano) Michael (Purapura)
Colorful was at this year’s Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme. It is an award-winning movie adapted from a novel written by Eto Mori. It won the award for Excellent Animation of the Year at the 34th Japan Academy Prize and received the Audience Award and Special Distinction prize at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in 2011.
Synopsis from Anime News Network:
Upon reaching the train station to death, a dejected soul is informed that he is ‘lucky’ and will have another chance at life and is placed in the body of a 14-year-old boy named Makoto Kobayashi, who has just committed suicide. Watched over by a neutral spirit named Purapura, the soul must figure out what his greatest sin and mistake in his former life was before his time limit in Makoto’s body runs out. He also has a number of other lesser duties he must complete, such as understanding what led Makoto to commit suicide in the first place and learning how to enjoy his second chance at life.
16:00-17:49 Patema Inverted (second showing)
18:00 Raffle Prize Draw
18:30 Mai Mai Miracle
Japanese Title: マイマイ新子と千年の魔法
Romaji: Mai Mai Shinko to Sen Nen no Mahou
Release Date: August 15th, 2009 (Japan)
Running Time: 93 mins.
Director: Sunao Katabuchi
Writer: Nobuko Takagi (Autobiography), Sunao Katabuchi (Screenplay)
Starring: Mayuko Fukuda (Shinko Aoki), Nako Mizusawa (Kiiko Shimazu), Ei Morisako (Nagiko Kiyohara), Tamaki Matsumoto (Mitsuko Aoki), Keiichi Noda (Koutarou Aoki), Manami Honjou (Nagako Aoki), Eiji Takemoto (Tousuke Aoki)
Mai Mai Miracle was the third film I saw at the 2013 Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme and it was the first anime to have been screened at the festival. It had a massively successful Kickstarter campaign for an English language release and it also ended up being one of two anime movies that I regarded as being the best I saw last year (if that counts for anything).
Shinko, is a third grade elementary school student with a magically active imagination. She spends a lot of her time listening to her grandfather’s history lessons, imagining what her town was like 1,000 years earlier. One day, a sad and sombre girl called Kiiko transfers to Shinko’s school from Tokyo. A strong friendship soon grows between the two girls as Shinko helps Kiiko come out of her shell and deal with her loss – all thanks to their adventures, both imagined and real.
20:30 Evangelion 3.0
Japanese Title: エヴァンゲリヲン新 新劇場版:Q Quickening
Romaji: Evangelion Shin Gekijoban: Kyu
Release Date: 17th November 2012 (Japan)
Running Time: N/A
Director: Hideaki Anno, Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki, Mahiro Maeda
Writer: Hideaki Anno
Starring: Megumi Hayashibara, Megumi Ogata, Akira Ishida, Yuko Miyamura, Kotono Mitsuishi, Takehito Koyasu, Fumihiko Tachiki, Yuriko Yamaguchi, Motomu Kiyokawa, Hiro Yuuki, Miki Nagasawa, Maaya Sakamoto
The rebuild of Neon Genesis Evangelion continues in its updating of the seminal 90’s TV anime which re-wrote the rules for the mecha genre as it was a post-modern take that combined mecha tropes with crazed religion, science and damaged characters. All of this was cooked up by the twisted imagination of Hideaki Anno who was reportedly in a state of near depression while making the show. With Evangelion he did what Lars von Trier did with Melancholia and gave us a devastating visual view of depression and other psychological maladies. Watching the teen pilots navigate the hell that is adolescence and deal with the psycho-sexual nightmarish monsters and emotionally complex adults was gripping, disturbing but ultimately uplifting (although very apocalyptic).
Hideaki Anno claimed he was not happy with the way the series developed and is now releasing a number of films which tried to retell the ending of the show but on a bigger scale and as originally envisioned. This is the third in the four-part series to have been released.
Programme of Events 2014 in Aberystwyth
The line-up for Aberystwyth is almost the same as Cardiff but Colorful will not be screened. Despite this, there are many great titles to watch!
12:00 Patema Inverted
14:30 Double Bill By Your Side (Short Film)
Mai Mai Miracle
17:45 Evangelion 3.0