Camera Japan 2017 has pulled together some of the best anime films made in the last year with a Ghibli classic thrown in for good measure. It’s a mixture of the biggest box-office earners and all are critical darlings (although I’m not sure about the recently released, Your Voice). Many of these films have become cultural lightning rods for Japanese people and anime fans worldwide as awareness of anime has spread worldwide and really rocketed in the last few years. Indeed, the mainstream critics are taking notice, ensuring that a huge audience are watching these film and distributors are placing them in cinemas for limited runs. The best example is In This Corner of the World which won Best Film at the Japan Academy awards. That too has become a huge hit worldwide and the screenings I attended in both the UK and Japan were packed.
All of these films have become break-out success stories around the world with each one getting a release in territories from Asia to America and I am fortunate enough to work for a film festival where we have programmed all but two. If you get the chance to see them all in one place, do! Camera Japan is the best opportunity to do that in Holland!
Not only do you get feature-film goodness, there are animated shorts which will show the strength of a new generation of Japanese animators.
To get a full overview of the festival, click on this link.
Here’s the low-down on what has been programmed:
Running Time: 110 mins.
Director: Sunao Katabuchi
Writer: Sunao Katabuchi (Screenplay), Fumiyo Kono (Original Creator)
Animation Production: MAPPA
Starring: Rena Nounen (Suzu Urano), Daisuke Ono (Akira), Mayumi Shintani (San), Shigeru Ushiyama (Entaro), Megumi Han (Sumi), Minori Omi (Michiko), Natsuki Inaba (Harumi), Yoshimasa Hosoya (Shuusaku),
Probably the biggest anime not named Your Name, this film took the Animation of the Year award at the 40th annual Japan Academy and I am not surprised since it is a beautiful and stately film about an absent-minded artistic young woman trying to survive the hardship of war. It has also won the Hiroshima Peace Film Award at the Hiroshima International Film Festival in November last year and the film magazine Kinema Jump named it the best Japanese movie of 2016 and it awarded Katabuchi the Best Director Award.
The film was orchestrated by Sunao Katabuchi who directed the awesome Mai Mai Miracle and the TV anime Black Lagoon. It was animated by the studio MAPPA (Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis, Terror in Resonance).
Synopsis: Suzu Urano is a Hiroshima girl from a close-knit family but when she marries a naval officer, she has to move from Hiroshima City to Kure, the city which launched the battleship Yamato and the site of one of Japan’s largest naval bases. As a new housewife, she encounters uncertainty in her new family, her new city, and her new world but she perseveres and finds happiness even as the war grinds on and comes closer to home.
ひるね姫 ～知らないワタシの物語～ 「Hirune Hime: Shiranai Watashi no Monogatari」
Running Time: 110 mins.
Release Date: March 18th, 2017
Director: Kenji Kamiya
Writer: Kenji Kamiya (Screenplay),
Animation Production: Signal.MD
Starring: Mitsuki Takahata (Kokone Morikawa), Arata Furuta (Watanabe), Hideki Takahashi (Isshin Shijima), Shinnosuke Mitsushima (Morio),
Production I.G has been the creative home to director Kenji Kamiyama and he directed the TV anime Eden of the East, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and Moribito – Guardian of the Spirit. Napping Princess is an original anime from Kamiya and it was produced by Signal.MD. a subsidiary studio of Production I.G. The film was screened at the New York Children’s Film Festival and Yubari Fantastic Film Festival. This is the Dutch premiere.
Synopsis: Days before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Kokone, a high school girl who spends more time sleeping than studying, has the same strange dream filled with futuristic warring machines which seem to be connected to her family in some secret way. She will soon uncover the truth after her mechanic father is arrested and she travels to Tokyo and between dreams and reality to rescue him.
きみの声をとどけたい 「Kimi no koe wo todoketai」
Running Time: 94 mins.
Release date: August 25th, 2017
Director: Naoyuki Itou
Writer: Manabu Ishikawa (Screenplay)
Animation Production: Madhouse
Starring: Mina Katahira (Nagisa Yukiai), Suzuki Mimori (Shion Yazawa), Yuki Tanaka (Kaede Tatsunokuchi), Mitsuho Kambe (Ayame Nakahara), Misako Iino (Yuu Hamasuka)
Not to be confused with Your Name this is a recently released anime from Madhouse, the guys behind the works of Satoshi Kon and many other classic anime. This looks like a typical teen drama with a supernatural twist so not a million miles away from Makoto Shinkai’s works. Kudos to the festival organisers for picking an unexpected title! This is the Dutch premiere.
Synopsis: Impatient high school student Nagisa isn’t really sure about what she wants to be when she grows older. But then one day she wanders into an abandoned radio station and jokingly she pretends to be a DJ. To her surprise her voice is broadcasted to an unexpected audience. Could her grandmother’s stories about spirits that dwell in words really be true?
聲の形 「Koe no Katachi」
Running Time: 129 mins.
Director: Naoko Yamada
Writer: Reiko Yoshida (Screenplay), Yoshitoki Ooima (Original Manga)
Animation Production: Kyoto Animation
Starring: Miyu Irino (Shouya Ishida/Mayu Matsuoka), Saori Hayami (Shouko Nishimiya), Aoi Yuuki (Yuzuru Nishimiya),
The film comes from Kyoto Animation, the studio behind super-hits such as the swimming anime Free! and the mystery series Hyouka. It was directed by Naoko Yamada, a veteran of the studio and one of the most promising directors in the anime world. This is the Dutch premiere.
Synopsis: When Shoko, a young deaf student, transfers to a new elementary school she is bullied by Shoya for her hearing impairment. The class soon turns on Shoya for his lack of compassion and he finds himself ostracised. This experience leaves a mark on Shoya who is tormented by his past behaviour long after school and so he decides he must see Shoko once more to atone for his sins.
もののけ姫 「Mononoke Hime」
Running Time: 134 mins.
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki (Screenplay),
Animation Production: Studio Ghibli
Starring: Yuriko Ishida (San), Youji Matsuda (Ashitaka), Akihiro Miwa (Moro), Yuko Tanaka (Eboshi Gozen), Kaoru Kobayashi (Bou Jiko),
Princess Mononoke is one of Studio Ghibli’s most beloved films thanks to its strong central female protagonist and its rich story which weaves environmentalism and spirituality into an action-packed adventure. It’s in the festival because it is set in the ancient forests of Yakushima, a stunning island off the southeast coast of Kyushu. I cannot recommend this one enough. Any Ghibli film in a cinema is a great time out but this one is just epic! Just look at that poster! It’s awesome, just like the film! Go see it on the big screen!
Synopsis: A village is attacked by a fierce boar which is possessed by a demon. The young prince Ashitaka valiantly defends his people by killing the beast but he ends up cursed. Said curse will slowly drain his life away unless he gets a cure so Ashitaka travels westward and encounters the people of Tatara, the Iron Town, where he finds himself embroiled in a fierce conflict between Lady Eboshi who is cutting down a nearby forest, and Princess San, who aims to defend the sacred spirits of the forest from humans.
Short Animation Selection var. directors (Japan 2016, ca. 90 min.)
A selection of contemporary artistic and experimental short animation films, directed by both exciting newcomers and experienced veterans. The selected films differ greatly in style and substance, and offer you a chance to discover what the future of Japanese anime has in store.
Tama Art University – Best Of var. directors (Japan 2016, ca. 110 min.)
A selection of the best animated graduation films from Tama Art University, a private art university in Tokyo. It is known as one of the best art schools in the country.
Part of the Kids Day programme.
Camera Japan 2017 starts in just under a months time in Rotterdam and Amsterdam and there is plenty to dig into so having the festival programme is a must. You can also read about the various films and events here on this site where I will have this guide complete with addresses and links to other, more detailed posts covering