Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2015 Line-Up

The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival takes place in Wales later this month in Cardiff and again at the end of October in Aberystwyth. It is the only film event in Wales to show anime on the big screen and takes place over the course of a day in the two locations. The programming team has brought out a selection of classics and some newer titles that show some of the best modern animated films from Japan.

This year’s events once again take place in the Chapter Arts Centre  and the Aberystwyth Arts Centre and there are titles from Madhouse and Production I.G with the psycho-thriller Perfect Blue (directed by the genius auteur Satoshi Kon) and Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, the film which launched studio Gainax, being two highlights.

I’ll be travelling to the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff to see the festival there.

Here’s an article I wrote for Anime UK News which gives the times and dates. Here’s more about the films themselves. To find out when the festival is screening and the prices of tickets, click on the links to the venues (tickets are already on sale at Chapter):

A Letter to Momo (2011)   

A Letter to Momo Poster
A Letter to Momo Poster

ももへの手紙Momo e no Tegami

Running Time: 120 mins

Director/Writer: Hiroyuki Okiura

Starring: Karen Miyama (Momo Miyaura), Yuka (Ikuko Miyaura), Cho (Mame), Toshiyuki Nishida (Iwa), Takeo Ogawa (Koichi),

I first posted about A Letter to Momo back in 2011 (and on Anime UK News) and since then it has floated around different festivals totally because it is a high quality film.

This is the second film from director Hiroyuki Okiura and it was a passion projectA Letter to Momo Film Poster 2 he spent seven years developing following the critically acclaimed sci-fi thriller Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (1999), a magnificent ultra-masculine political tale of life in an alternate world Japan where a right-wing government cracks down on dissent with brutal force.  This is completely different…

A Letter to Momo is a supernatural comedy-drama about a little girl coming to terms with the loss of her father. Audiences will see shades of Studio Ghibli in the painstaking work which has gone into making the beautiful hand-drawn animation produced by Production I.G as well as the story which features a mixture of the realistic and fantastical and a well-written young female protagonist people will be able to relate to.

Following the death of her father a young girl named Momo and her mother Ikuko move from the bustling metropolis of Tokyo to Ikuko’s childhood home on the remote island of Shio. Momo finds it difficult to adjust to the loss of her father and her new surroundings but when she explores the attic of her new big house and finds an antique picture-book with sketches of fantastical creatures strange things happen and she discovers she is sharing a house with three mischievous yokai.

 

Tiger & Bunny: The Rising (2014)   

Tiger and Bunny The Rising Film Poster
Tiger and Bunny The Rising Film Poster

劇場版 TIGER & BUNNY -The Rising- Gekijouban Tiger & Bunny -The Rising- 

Running Time: 108 mins

Director: Yoshitomo Yonetani, Writer: Masafumi Nishida

Starring: Hiroaki Hirata (Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger), Masakazu Morita (Barnaby Brooks, Jr.), Yuuichi Nakamura (Ryan Goldsmith/Golden Ryan), Rina Hidaka (Kaede Kaburagi),

Tiger & Bunny: The Rising is a continuation of the hugely popular TV anime and acts as an epilogue to the series that adds some great character development and melds together 2D and 3D animation in thrilling action sequences.

The heroes of TIGER & BUNNY Kotetsu T. Kaburagi, a.k.a. Wild Tiger, and Barnaby Brooks Jr. resume their careers as heroes fighting crime in HERO TV’s Second League following the events of the Maverick incident but the new owner of Apollon Media, Mark Schneider, splits up their partnership and pairs Barnaby with a new hero, the powerful and egotistical Golden Ryan. The two are sent to investigate a series of events linked to Stern Bild city’s Goddess Legend and discover new super powered NEXTs plotting to destroy everything. Barnaby and Golden Ryan must overcome their differences to save the lives of millions while Kotetsu rediscovers what it means to be a hero.

 

Short Peace (2013)   Short Peace Film Poster

ショート ピーSho-to Pi-su

Running Time: 68 mins

Short Peace is a compilation of four short films written and directed by four different directors each giving their take on the theme of Japan. It’s notable for being the brainchild of Katsuhiro Otomo, the director of the seminal sci-fi title Akira and one of the short films, Possessions, was nominated for the best animated short Oscar. The director of Possessions, Shuehei Morita, went on to direct the TV anime Tokyo Ghoul. Some of these shorts look absolutely fantastic!

Possessions              Tsukumo Key Image

九十Tsukumu

Director/Writer: Shuhei Morita

Starring: Takeshi Kusao (Kaeru Hebisakka), Aoi Yuuki (Komachi Sorimono), Kouichi Yamadera (Frog),

In 18th Century Japan, a lone traveller deep in the mountains loses his way on a stormy night and chances upon an abandoned shrine which houses otherworldly creatures.

Combustible

火要Hi no youjin

Director/Writer: Katsuhiro Otomo

Starring: Masakazu Morita (Matsuyoshi), Saori Hayami (Owaka),

In 18th Century Edo-period Japan, Owaka and Matsukichi long to be together but when Matsukichi becomes a fireman he is disowned by his family and Owaka’s family set up an arranged marriage for her, it seems that fate is against them but a fire will bring them together.

Gambo   Gambo Short Peace Image

Director: Hiroaki Ando, Writer: Katsuhito Ishii, Kensuke Yamamoto

Starring: Mutsumi Tamura (Kao), Daisuke Namikawa (Nigenji),

A giant red demon appears and attacks an isolated village in a mountainous region of northeast Japan at the end of the 16th century. A young village girl named Kao seeks the help of a mysterious white bear in defending her home.

A Farewell to Weapons

武器よさらBuki yo Saraba

Director/writer: Hajime Katoki

Starring: Issei Futamata (Marl), Tomoyuki Dan (Rohm). Ryotaro Okiayu (Junky), Akio Otsuka (Jin), Shigeru Ushiyama (Gimlet)

In a war-torn future Tokyo, a platoon of armoured soldiers battles a robotic tank.

 

Extra Short Films

Before the main feature, there will also be three additional short films that have been at film festivals around the world like Annecy:

 

Maku   

Director: Yoriko Mizushiri

Duration: 5m 26s

Kyogen Stage/Eye Examination Room/Sushi Bar Counter – There are two people who face each other in each space. Each pair keeps a few distance between their partners and find some fearful, tender, and comfortable feelings that fascinate them. The feelings are put into practice immediately, and they start groping each feeling.

 

The Night of the Naporitan

Director: Yusuke Sakamoto

Duration: 6m 18s

The Naporitan Spaghetti, the main character of the film, is neither Italian nor Japanese cuisine. Having lost his identity, Naporitan Spaghetti embarks on a journey of self-discovery around the world. This is a tragic story of Naporitan Spaghetti who never learnt how to love others. This animated film has been both produced and directed by Yusuke Sakamoto, who also provided the voiceover for Naporitan Spaghetti.

 

The Small Garden

Director: Shunsuke Saito

Duration: 12m 22s

Did the universe begin with a yin-yang globe or with an egg? The most plausible, science-based insight into the mystery of everything since The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

 

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (1987)    Royal Space Force The Wings of Honneamise 王立宇宙軍 オネアミスの翼 Film Poster

王立宇宙軍オネアミスの翼Ouritsu Uchuugun – Oneamisu no Tsubasa

Running Time: 121 mins

Director/Writer: Hiroyuki Yamaga

Starring: Leo Morimoto (Shirotsugh Lhadatt), Mitsuki Yayoi (Riguinni Nonderaiko), Bin Shimada (Yanalan), Aya Murata (Manna Nonderaiko), Hiroshi Izawa (Darigan), Hirotaka Suzuki), Kazuyuki Sogabe (Marty), Yoshito Yasuhara (Nekkerout),

I’m really in this festival to see The Wings of Honneamise. It is magnificent and many long-time anime fans hold this up as a great watch. Not everybody felt that way when it was first released.

The Wings of Honneamise was the first commercial movie project created by legendary anime studio Gainax and features early work by director Hideaki Anno and character designer Yohiyuki Sadamoto who both went on to find fame with Evangelion. Initially a large commercial flop it has gone on to achieve cult status and is now regarded as a classic. It is one of my top three anime of all time and I have multiple copies of the film. It is a profound and moving tale of human endeavour and belief in trying for a better future all told through some sterling character development. The soundtrack by Ryuichi Sakamoto (which I also have) is a mixture of traditional Japanese instruments, piano pieces, and synthesizers but despite being dated it remains one of the best I have heard and I still play tracks from it.

In a world somewhat similar to our own, two nations are on the verge of war and use their technology for destruction. An amiable dreamer from the Kingdom of Honneamise named Shirotsugh Lhadatt fails to make the grade as a navy pilot and finds himself in the underfunded and unloved Royal Space Force. He is inspired to reach for the stars after a chance encounter with a pacifist but he finds himself in a race against time to leave the Earth and become the first man in space because war looms large and there are those supporting his mission that have an ulterior motive.

 

Perfect Blue (1997)      Perfect Blue Film Poster

パーフェクトブルーPa-fekutoburu-

Running Time: 80 mins

Director: Satoshi Kon, Writer: Sadayuki Murai

Starring: Junko Iwao (Mima Kirigoe), Rica Matsumoto (Rumi), Shinpachi Tsuji (Tadokoro), Me-Mania (Masaaki Okura), Shiho Niiyama (Rei),

This is the debut film of Satoshi Kon, a man who would push the boundaries of anime with dark psychological stories such as Millennium Actress (2001), Paranoia Agent (2004), and Paprika (2006). Satoshi Kon’s works are the type that many anime fans hold up to show how mature the medium is and it’s easy to see why because he uses animation to make a twisting and devious story hacking into a character’s fractured psyche as she battles to establish what is reality and a nightmare. The story comes off as something Brian DePalma might make only it’s much more high quality and it supposedly served as an inspiration to the film Black Swan.

Mima Kirigoe was a member of a successful J-pop idol group named “Cham!” but she turned her back on music to pursue a career as an actress on a television crime drama called “Double Blind.” This decision unleashes the anger of obsessive fans who stalk her online through a website called “Mima’s Room” and their obsessions enter her real life when one stalker named Me-Mania enters the scene and threatens her life. Soon people involved in Mima’s career start showing up dead and Mima looks like the chief suspect. As her life begins to unravel, Mima finds herself in the grip of paranoia begins to lose track of what is reality and nightmare

It’s also gratifying to see that the Cardiff portion of the festival features the return of the popular family-friendly marketplace with Japanese food and goods and the raffle with great prizes such as a subscription to Neo magazine.

To find out more and stay in contact with the festival, you can use Twitter the Kotatsu Website and the festival’s Facebook page.

11 thoughts on “Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2015 Line-Up

  1. Looks like a great festival.

    RE: Perfect Blue. I always see these comparisons to Black Swan, but I’m not sure I see it.
    Mostly because I like Perfect Blue 1000 x more. It was my fav by Kon.

    1. It’s a great line-up of films and in a nice venue with lots of kids running around… I’ll have to pick my seat in a quiet area!

      Perfect Blue is brilliant but I have to leave early to catch my train but I’ll be able to see the legendary, the brilliant, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise!

  2. I am really amazed that “Letter To Momo” is still without an official UK DVD/BD release. It’s got all the whimsical ingredients of Ghibli and Makoto Shinkai so should be a hit with anime fans, unless it is a licensing issue.

    “Hotori no mori e” is another one long overdue a release here too.

    1. I think that A Letter to Momo is perfect for Anime Limited and since they recently licensed Fuse: A Gun Girl’s Detective Story, which was made near enough at the same time, there’s hope that this one can be picked up.

  3. All of these are top notch! I even wrote a review on the short peace film collection on my blog. Perfect Blue is one of Kon’s best works. Letter to Momo really pulls at the heart and introduces some very cool supernatural tones to a simple story. I wish more anime could receive attention in a theatre setting. My Space Dandy marathon was a success– always great to hear how people interact with Japanese anime in a large setting like that. Working with Aniplex on Mushishi Zoku Shou and a Baccanno! Theatre screening!🙂

    1. I’ve seen a two of these titles and own three but this is the first time I will see it at a cinema and I’m very excited – especially Honneamise.

      Glad to hear that your Space Dandy screening went well! Maybe for Baccano! you could do a 1920’s themed party with the cinema done up like a speakeasy.Baccano! will be a lot of fun – that soundtrack!

    1. The festival was awesome, thanks. I spent time with a friend enjoying great anime. A Letter to Momo and Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise looked incredible on the big screen and hearing the soundtrack created by Ryuichi Sakamoto was brilliant. Kotatsu is such a great event!

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