Japanese Films at the 2016 Annecy International Film Festival

This year’s Annecy International Animation Film Festival takes place from June 13th to the 18th and the event sees a global collection of artists and animators attend the prestigious event to showcase their works, give talks and take part in other industry events. You can’t talk animation without including Japan and this year there is a varied list of titles.

Here’s what’s on:

The Anthem of the Heart   

The Anthem of the Heart Film Poster
The Anthem of the Heart Film Poster

心が叫びたがってるんだ。「Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterun Da.

Release Date: September 19th, 2015

Running Time: 88 mins.

Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai

Writer: Mari Okada (Script),

Starring: Inori Minase (Jun Naruse), Kouki Uchiyama (Takumi Sakagami), Sora Amamiya (Natsuki Nido), Yoshimasa Hosoya (Daiki Tazaki),

Website     ANN

Tatsuyuki Nagai is a director and Mari Okada is a writer who specialise in telling dramatic stories in anime. Their greatest collaboration is arguably anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day but this, their latest work together, looks good.

Synopsis from the official English-language website: Jun is a girl whose words have been sealed away. She was once a happy girl, but because of a [certain thing] she said when she was very young, her family was torn apart. One day, the egg fairy appeared in front of her and sealed away her ability to talk in order to stop her from hurting anybody else. Since this traumatic experience, Jun lives in the shadows away from the limelight. But, one day she is nominated to become an executive member of the “community outreach council.” On top of that, Jun is also appointed to play the main lead in their musical…


Belladonna of Sadness       Belladonna of Sadness Film Poster

哀しみのベラドンナ  Kanashimi no Beradonna

Release Date: June 30th, 1973

Running Time: 89 mins.

Director: Eiichi Yamamoto, 

Writer: Jules Michelet (Original Novel) Eiichi Yamamoto, Yoshiyuki Fukuda (Script)

Starring: Aiko Nagayama, Katsutaka Ito, Tatsuya Nakadai, Chinatsu Nakayama,

This is an animation dating back from 1973 and it has returned to the world having undergone a 4K restoration based on the original negatives. It is an erotic anime, the third and last of the adult-oriented Animerama trilogy produced by the “Godfather of Manga” Osamu Tezuka. The film was directed by his long-time collaborator Eiichi Yamamoto (Astro Boy). It is based on the book Satanism and Witchcraft by French writer Jules Michelet and it features a psychedelic rock soundtrack.

Synopsis: Young and innocent Jeanne is ravaged by the local lord and makes a pact with the Devil himself. The Devil–voiced by legendary actor Tatsuya Nakadai (RanThe Human Condition)–appears in phallic forms and, through Jeanne, incites the village into a sexual frenzy.


The Boy and the Beast    

The Boy and the Beast Film Poster
The Boy and the Beast Film Poster

バケモノの子 Bakemono no Ko

Release Date: July 11th, 2015 (Japan)

Running Time: 128 mins.

Director: Mamoru Hosoda

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   IMDB    ANN    MAL

Mamoru Hosoda’s latest film is a continuation of his series of stories that mix fantasy and reality and if you are a fan of Hosoda’s previous works like The Wolf ChildrenSummer Wars, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time I think it would be safe to say that this one is worth watching what with the excellent animation, voice actors, and more.

Synopsis: After his mother’s death, Ren decides not to live with his guardians but fend for himself in the streets of Tokyo. There, he meets the powerful warrior Kumatetsu, and retreats into the world of beasts. Being one of two contenders to become the new Beast Lord of the realm, Kumatetsu must train an apprentice before earning the title. He chooses Ren as his disciple and changes the boy’s name to Kyuta.


Gamba: Gamba to Nakama-tachi        

Gamba Gamba to Nakama-tachi Film Poster
Gamba Gamba to Nakama-tachi Film Poster

GAMBA ガンバと仲間たち「Gamba: Gamba to Nakama-tachi

Release Date: October 10th, 2015

Running Time: 92 mins.

Chief Director: Yoichi Ogawa, Director: Tomohiro Kawamura, Yoshihiro Komori

Writer: Ryota Kosawa (Screenplay), Atsuo Saito (Original Creator),

Starring: Yuki Kaji (Gamba), Sayaka Kanda (Tideway),

Website     ANN      MAL

Synopsis from MAL: Gamba, a town mouse with a brave, adventurous spirit decides to go on an adventure to discover the ocean. On his way, he meets a troubled child mouse, Chuta. He says his family and other mice have been killed by a clan of weasels living on a nearby island. Chuta asks a group of ship mice, the bravest of their kind, for help, but when they find out that the villain behind this event is the terrifying weasel-leader Noroi, they give up on helping Chuta. However seeing the hopeless Chuta, Gamba promises him to save the island, his family and the other mice. Gamba and his friends team up to go on their adventure to defeat the evil Noroi and his clan.


The Focus on Territories programme has a Focus on Tokyo section where “which will feature talented representatives from the Tokyo animation industry, selected by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.”

Koji Fukada, a director famous for live-action films like Au revoir l’ete (2013) made the anime La Grenadière (2006, 48 mins.) and that will be screened at this year’s Annecy. Fukada has his latest live-action film premiering at Cannes this week.

Japan has a healthy system of creating animators and you can see graduation works from the latest crop of young animators. These include Natsu no megami no kuchi no naka (Dir: Liu Xinin) and the story is a simple one: The beach of a Chinese resort is packed. People are enjoying the summer holidays. An abrupt thundershower makes them run around in a flurry.

Nanimo-minakuteii (Nothing You Need to See) (Dir: Keigo Ito) is a little weirder since it features a young man turning his face inside out… And then there is Feed (Dir: Eri Okazaki) which is about: Two enormous creatures count down the end of a day, food is served as it was the day before. Children feed their goat as usual, feeling uneasy about their own daily life.

Other anime can be found in places like Commissioned Films in Competition 1 where Ez3Kiel “L’Œil du cyclone” (Dir: Masanobu Hiraoka) is playing. This is a music video which can be found online:

There’s also the music video for Sasanomaly “The Synesthesia Ghost” (Dir: Atsushi Makino):

There’s a Japanese entry in TV Films in Competition 4 called Super Short Comics “Into the Pocket” (5 mins. Dir: Keisuke Matsumoto). There are shorts like Suijungenten (Dir: Ryo Orikasa) in the Short Film Competition. Yoshiro Ishihara (1915–1977), who burst upon the scene of Japanese modern poetry in the mid-1950s, is now remembered as a “poet of silence.” He said, “A poem is an impulse to resist writing.” This film is an attempt to seek out the landscape from his poem. There is also “Parade” de Satie (Dir: Koji Yamamura).

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