Japanese Films at the 2015 Annecy International Animation Film Festival

Annecy 2015 Banner
Annecy 2015 Banner

The Annecy International Animation Film Festival takes place later this month (from June 15th to the 20th) with a number of anime movies playing at the festival, many of which I have already written about because of the quality of titles. Here’s what will be playing:

Features

There are quite a few features showing in the festival, some of them the biggest and most interesting anime movies that will be released this year. Top of the bill are The Case of Hana & Alice (Hana to Alice Satsujin Jiken), and Miss Hokusai (Sarusuberi -Miss HOKUSAI) both selected for the Official Feature Film Competition.

The Case of Hana & Alice     

Hana and Alice Anime Movie Poster
Hana and Alice Anime Movie Poster

Japanese Title: 花とアリス 殺人事

Romaji: Hana to Alice: Satsujin Jiken

Director: Shunji Iwai

Writer: Shunji Iwai (Screenplay/Original Creator),

Starring: Yu Aoi (Tetsuko Arisugawa), Anne Suzuki (Hana Arai), Ryou Kazuji (Kotaro Yuda – a man who holds the key to the murder mystery), Haru Kuroki (Satomi Hagino-sensei – Hana and Alice’s homeroom teacher), Tae Kimura (Yuki Tsutsumi – the ballet classroom teacher),

Website

Have you watched the live-action Hana and Alice (2004) directed by Shunji Iwai? It’s brilliant. Imagine people’s surprise when he came back to that story and made a prequel telling how the titular Hana and Alice, two girls with an intense friendship at the centre of the story, became friends. Hana to Alice: Satsujin Jiken tells the story of how the girls first met and it is apparently through the world’s smallest murder case. Here is my preview for the film.

 

Miss Hokusai    

Miss Hokusai Film Poster
Miss Hokusai Film Poster

Japanese Title: 百日紅 ~Miss HOKUSAI

Romaji: Sarusuberi ~Miss HOKUSAI

Director: Keiichi Hara

Writer: Miho Maruo (Screenplay), Hinako Sugiura (Original Creator),

Starring: Anne Watanabe (O-Ei), Yutaka Matsushige (Tetsuzo/Katsushika Hokusai), Shion Shimizu (O-Nao), Kumiko Aso (Sayogoromo), Kengo Kora (Utagawa Kuninao),  Gaku Hamada (Zenjiro/Keisai Eisen), Jun Miho (Koto), Michitaka Tsutsui (Katsugoro/Totoya Hokkei), Danshun Tatekawa (Manjido),  

Website

This is based on Hinako Sugiura’s manga Sarusuberi which ran from 1983 to 87). The story is a carefully researched historical tale about the daughter of the legendary Japanese artist Hokusai O-Ei. She is a woman who is talented in her own right and assists her father in his work (and may have painted or at least collaborated with him on his later works) but goes uncredited. I have only seen one of director Keiichi Hara’s films and that was Colorful but based on that one film (which made me cry) I feel confident in saying that he is a good director interested in and capable of bringing intense and profound emotions from little stories. He is very humanistic. His approach will be an interesting one for bringing to life Japan’s most famous artist of the 19th Century and his criminally overlooked daughter. Here’s an interesting interview from the Japan Times. I posted two previews for this film (here’s the link to the last one).

 

The latest film from Mamoru Hosoda, The Boy and the Beast will be featured in the Work in Progress section which will involve the film’s producer Seiji Okuda giving a talk on the film. I am unclear about how much will be shown but Hosoda has shown his films at Annecy before starting with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2007) and Summer Wars (2010).

 

The Boy and the Beast  Bakemono no Ko Anime Image

Japanese Title: バケモノの

Romaji: Bakemono no Ko

Director: Mamoru Hosoda

Writer: Mamoru Hosoda (Screenplay),

Starring: Koji Yakusho (Kumatetsu), Shota Sometani (Kyuuta – Teen), Aoi Miyazaki (Kyuuta – Young), Haru Kuroki (Ichirohiko – Young), Yo Oizumi (Tatara), Lily Franky (Monk Momoaki), Mamoru Miyano (Ichirohiko – Old),

Website

In my preview for this film I highlighted many aspects of the production that were impressive, not least the voice actors for the boy Aoi Miyazaki (Eureka) and Shota Sometani (Himizu) who both worked with Hosoda in The Wolf Children. They are acting alongside Koji Yakusho, (13 Assassins, Licence to Live) who is voicing the beast.

A lonely boy in Tokyo’s Shibuya ward finds that there is another world, the bakemono realm (“Juutengai”). Typically, the human world and Juutengai do not meet but the boy gets lost in the bakemono world and becomes the disciple of a lonely bakemono named Kumatetsu (Yakusho) who takes the boy under his wing and renames him Kyuuta (Miyazaki/Sometani).

 

The new Ghost in the Shell: The Movie, is the latest part of the Ghost in the Shell Arise reboot which has seen the franchise adapted by character designer and chief director Kazuchika Kise. Although many were sceptical about the Ghost in the Shell having enough life left in it for the arise reboot, it seems that this new series has won a lot of fans. Here’s the info:

Ghost in the Shell: New Movie  

Ghost in the Shell 2015 Film Poster
Ghost in the Shell 2015 Film Poster

Japanese Title: 攻殻機動隊 新劇場版

Romaji: Kōkaku Kidōtai Shin Gekijō-ban

Release Date: June 20th, 2015 (Japan)

Running Time: 100 mins.

Chief Director: Kazuchika Kise, Director: Kazuya Nomura

Writer: Tow Ubukata (Screenplay),

Starring: Maaya Sakamoto (Motoko Kusanagi), Kenichirou Matsuda (Batou), Ikkyuu Juku (Daisuke Aramaki), Tarusuke Shingaki (Togusa),

The first trailer features a potted history of the GitS franchise with new footage at the end.

Story:

March 2029, the first minister gets assassinated and Motoko Kusanagi’s former manager is one of the collateral victims. After assembling a team with Batō,Togusa and others, Kusanagi starts an investigation.

The second trailer features the new film. Fans should be at ease because it looks like the franchise is in safe hands with Production I.G bringing this to life under the direction of Kazuchika Kise, the guy behind the Arise reboot plus a Production I.G vet with work on all of the Ghost in the Shell movies and other titles like City Hunter, Goku II: Midnight Eye, Giovanni’s Island and Patlabor. The director is another interesting chap. Kazuya Nomura has directed episodes of incredible anime like Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, Dennou Coil and was involved in Ghost Hound and Mind Game. The script comes from Tow Ubukata who has written good cyberpunk titles like Mardock Scramble.

All the voice actors are returning to their roles and the visuals on the reboot look great.

The Out of Competition section features Stand by Me Doraemon, the latest in the massive franchise that spans decades and at least 35 titles with another due this year. Here are the details:

 

Stand By Me Doraemon   

Stand By Me Doraemon Film Poster
Stand By Me Doraemon Film Poster

Japanese Title: STAND BY ME ドラえも

Romaji: Stand By Me Doraemon

Director: Ryuichi Yagi, Takashi Yamazaki

Writer: Takashi Yamazaki (Screenplay)

Starring: Megumi Oohara (Nobita), Wasabi Mizuta (Doraemon), Yumi Kakazu (Shizuka), Tomokazu Seki (Suneo), Subaru Kimura (Gian),

Website

The film is directed by Takashi Yamazaki (Space Battleship Yamato) and Ryuichi Yagi.

A clumsy boy named Nobita lived Tokyo with a cat robot named Doraemon who come from the future. The cat is an amazing creation with all sorts of secret gadgets and the ability to travel through time which explains how he got back to the past. Why has the cat travelled back in time? Nobita’s descendant, Sewashi claims that his family is suffering from the debts Nobita made and so in order to change this disastrous future, he sent Doraemon back to act as Nobita’s caretaker to bring happiness to his future. Can he do it?

 

Shorts

Japan has a strong showing in the short animation section with some weird titles like Yusuke Sakamoto’s The Night of the Naporitan (6 mins.), a tragic story about “Spaghetti who never learned to love others.” Also competing in the short films category and is experienced animator Mirai Mizue who has teamed up with Yukie Nakauchi to make Shugo Tokumaru Poker (3 mins), a music video about a baby bird which flies around the world to transform.

The Night of the Naporitan
The Night of the Naporitan

There are three Japanese student films at this year’s Graduation Films category. They are Sayaka Kihata’s I Can’t Breathe (6 mins) a ghoulish-sounding tale about a boy who drowns his friend done in the interesting technique of powder animation, Sawako Kabuki’s Master Blaster (04 mins), the story of a girl who would like to hide in her sweeetheart’s anus (I’m not making this up) and sounds similar to another animation short named Anal Juice (I’m not making it up, honest) which was at last year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, and Shishi Yamazaki’s Tsukiyo & Opal (3 mins) about a person on the edge of sleep who becomes one with the universe.

The Lost Breakfast (6 mins) a short about a man who has turned his morning wash into a ceremony and that is by Q-RAIS and is screened out of competition.

The Lost Breakfast
The Lost Breakfast

Television

There’s no TV anime per se but audience members will get a dose of Masaaki Yuasa when they watch his “Food Chain” episode of Adventure Time which is in the TV Films category and Making Of category. Masaaki Yuasa needs no introduction but if you really don’t know who he is, he is famous for Ping Pong The Animation, Space Dandy, and The Tatami Galaxy and Mind Game, four of the best anime to be screened on TV in recent years. I saw a clip from Food Chain and it was okay (I’ve never watched Adventure Time, to be honest). Yuasa and Eunyoung Choi, his protégé and frequent collaborator (see their work together on Space Dandy), are listed as guest speakers.

And that’s it for the Japanese part of the festival (unless I missed something). Looks like a good line-up!

Hana and Alice Anime Movie Image

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5 thoughts on “Japanese Films at the 2015 Annecy International Animation Film Festival

  1. Kihata’s can’t breathe sounds really intriguing. Every one of these films I’ve been wanting to see! Hosoda is really gaining momentum with his works, quite the rival to Makoto Shinkai. I just recently saw Yuasa’s adventure time episode and it was pretty good for a kid’s show. Animation was great. Did you know Choi and Yuasa along with a few international animators formed a new animation studio last year? It’s called Science Saru. I’m curious what they will make if anything this year.

    1. It’s a great line-up of films, all the classy features we’ll see released this year. I watched a section of Yuasa’s Adventure Time episode and while it was amusing I don’t think I’ll bite with that series.

      I follow Science Saru on Tumblr, funnily enough.

    1. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and The Wolf Children are classics as far as I’m concerned but I’ve never been too fussed on Summer Wars. I hope his latest is a good one!

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