Japanese Films at Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2018

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The Annecy International Animation Film Festival is back from June 11th to the 16th and it’s packed with anime feature films, TV anime, and conferences. The Japanese presence is heavy this year and everything looks high quality from the student works to the feature films from the likes of Naoka Yamada (A Silent Voice) and Mamoru Hosoda (The Wolf Children)! Netflix has a presence here thanks to their positive contribution to anime and it’s an exciting TV anime. The student works look equally enticing with one from Tokyo University of the Arts. I feel glad to see so much diversity in content and approach!

Here are the titles:

There are a number of films screening both in and out of competition

Mirai of the Future    Mirai of the Future Film Poster

未来のミライ Mirai no Mirai

Running Time: 100 mins.

Release Date: July 20th, 2018

Director:  Mamoru Hosoda

Writer: Mamoru Hosoda (Screenplay/Original Work)

Starring: Haru Kuroki (Mirai-chan), Moka Kamishiraishi (Kun-chan), Gen Hoshino (Father), Koji Yakusho (Father), Kumiko Aso (Mother), Mitsuo Yoshihara (Mysterious Man), Yoshiko Miyazaki (Grandmother)

Animation Production: Studio Chizu

Website ANN MAL

Mamoru Hosoda’s new Mirai no Mirai (Mirai of the Future) is said to be closer to the human drama of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Wolf Children rather than the more action-packed Summer Wars and The Boy and the Beast. It is reportedly based on Hosoda’s own experiences of being a father in a family where a newborn took the attention of the parents away from the elder sibling and the emotions that radiated from that feeling.

This will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival before Annecy.

Synopsis: A family living in a small house in a corner of a Yokohama dotes on a spoiled four-year-old boy named Kun-chan. When he gets a little sister named Mirai, he feels that his new sister stole his parents’ love from him. Jealousy and resentment well up until he meets an older version of Mirai, who has come from the future and takes him on an adventure.

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms

さよならの朝に約束の花をかざろう Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana wo KazarouLet's Decorate the Promised Flowers in the Farewell Morning Film Poster

Running Time: 115 mins.

Release Date: February 24th, 2018

Director: Mari Okada

Writer: Mari Okada (Screenplay),

Starring: Manaka Iwami (Maquia), Miyu Irino (Ariel), Misaki Kuno (Medmel), Tomokazu Sugita (Izol), Hiroaki Hirata (Barlow), Yoko Hikasa (Dita), Rina Satou (Mido),

Animation Production: P.A. Works

Website ANN MAL

The film is the directorial debut of anime screenwriter Mari Okada (Anthem of the Heart, The Dark Maidens) and it was animated at P.A. Works. It appeared at the recent Glasgow Film Festival and Japan Film Festival Ireland and it will get a home format release in the UK courtesy of Anime Limited who are handling it at Annecy.

Synopsis: Maquia, comes from the elfin lolf race. They stop ageing in their mid teens. She isn’t as brave as Leilia, the most beautiful girl in her clan and the person she idolises. Although her days are peaceful she feels lonely, maybe because she has no parents and Leila has attracted the attention of Clear, the boy Maquia has secret feelings for. When an army of dragon-riding bandits invades seeking the legendary women who stop ageing, Maquia is able to escape, but she loses her friends and her home. Wandering alone in the forests of the outside world, a place she was warned to avoid, she finds Erial, a baby boy who has lost his parents. Unable to leave him behind, she adopts him, initially untroubled by the fact he will age like a human while she won’t…

Liz to Aoitori    Liz to Aoitori Film Poster

リズと青い鳥 Liz to Aoitori

Running Time: 110 mins.

Release Date: April 21st, 2018

Director:  Naoko Yamada

Writer: Reiko Yoshida (Script),

Starring: Atsumi Tanezaki (Mizore Yoroizuka), Nao Toyama (Nozomi Kasaki), Ayaka Asai (Hazuki Kato), Chika Anzai (Reina Kosaka), Yuri Yamaoka (Yuuko Yoshikawa), Moe Toyota (Sapphire “Midori” Kawashima), Shiori Sugiura (Ririka Kenzaki),

Animation Production: Kyoto Animation

Website ANN MAL

Synopsis: Mizore Yoroizuka and Nozomi Kasaki are best friends who are both in their school’s brass band club. Mizore plays the oboe and Nozomi plays the flute. Despite being in the final year of high school, they are so very happy–until the club begins to practice songs inspired by the fairy tale Liz und ein Blauer Vogel (Liz and the Blue Bird). Immersed in this story, they begin to realise that there may be no such thing as being together forever.

Okko’s Inn

若おかみは小学生! Waka Okami wa Shōgakusei!

Running Time: 120 mins.

Release Date: N/A

Director:  Kitaro Kosaka

Writer: Reiko Yoshida (Script), Asami, Hiroko Reijou (Original Creator)

Starring: Seiran Kobayashi (Oriko “Okko” Seki), Etsuko Kozakura (Suzuki), Nana Mizuki Kaji (Matsuko Akino), Satsumi Matsuda (Makoto “Uri-bō” Tachiuri),

Animation Production: Madhouse

Website ANN

Synopsis: “Okko” is a girl who has lost her parents in a traffic accident. Since she is in the sixth grade of elementary school, she moves to her grandmother’s hot spring inn “Haru no Ya” (Spring House) where she begins training to take over running the establishment. She finds it tough at first but discovers she can see ghosts and soon begins to enjoy herself with the help of the ghost “Uri-bō” and other mysterious friends.

Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters I & II    Godzilla Planet of the Monsters Film Poster

GODZILLA –怪獣惑星 Godzilla: Kaijuu Wakusei

Running Time: 89 mins.

Release Date: November 17th, 2017

Director:  Hiroyuki Seshita, Kobun Shizuno

Writer: Gen Urobuchi (Screenplay), Koi (Script/Original Creator)

Starring: Mamoru Miyano (Haruo Sakaki), Kana Hanazawa (Yuko Tani), Daisuke Ono (Eliott Leland), Junichi Suwabe (Mulu-Elu Dolu-do), Yuuki Kaji (Adam Bindewald), Tomokazu Sugita (Martin Lazzari), Kenyuu Horiuchi (Omberto Mori),

Animation Production: Polygon Pictures

Website MAL ANN

The new Godzilla anime film trilogy, Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (Godzilla: Kaiju Wakusei) launched on Netflix last year but only the first two instalments will be screened at Annecy. They showed up as a work in progress at last year’s Annecy. The directors are Kobun Shizuno (director of some Detective Conan movies) and Hiroyuki Seshita (Knights of Sidonia). Godzilla Anime Visual

Synopsis: The last summer of the 20th Century. That day, the human beings learn that they are not the only ruler of the planet Earth. Giant living creatures known as Kaiju appear and humanity is almost wiped out. Chief amongst these new creatures is Godzilla who reigns over everything. A select few people are chosen by an A.I. to escape the planet in the year 2048 and so they travel aboard the spaceship Aratrum to Tau Cetus e, a planet 11.9 light-years away. The new environment is tough and a selection of the emigrants want to return to Earth to fight the monsters. They are led by Haruo who saw his own parents killed by Godzilla. When they return to Earth, they find that the ecosystem has changed and that Godzilla still rules…

Annecy Classics has a number of great anime!

Millennium Actress 

千年女優Sennen JoyuuMillennium Actress Film Poster 2

Release Date: September 14th, 2002

Running Time: 83 mins.

Director: Satoshi Kon

Writer: Satoshi Kon (Screenplay),

Studio: Madhouse

Starring: Fumiko Orikasa (Chiyoko Fujiwara), Shouzou Iizuka (Genya Tacibana), Masaya Onosaka (Kyouji Ida), Kouichi Yamadera (Man of the Key),


Every so often, I occasionally wonder what Satoshi Kon would be making if he were still alive now.

Synopsis: In a very obvious homage to the very real actors Hideko Takamine and Setsuko Hara, Satoshi Kon builds a story around the fictional Chiyoko Fujiwara, an icon of 1950s cinema. When the film starts. she has retired and is living in seclusion but when she is visited by a devoted fan wanting to make a documentary about her career, they plunge back into her past and  we hop between events in her real and her on-screen life in roles in a variety of genres from samurai epics to kaiju eiga and romances that were filmed in different time-periods. This is a celebration of Japanese cinema and a magical anime!

30 years after it was first release, Totoro has become a worldwide phenomena and people can attend an Outdoor Screening at Annecy as well as the classics screening.

My Neighbor Totoro    My Neighbor Totoro Film Poster

となりのトトロ Tonari no Totoro

Running Time: 86 mins.

Release Date: April 16th, 1988

Director:  Hayao Miyazaki

Writer: Hayao Miyazaki (Script),

Starring: Noriko Hidaka (Satsuki), Chika Sakamoto (Mei), Shigesato Itoi (Tatsuo Kusakabe), Sumi Shimamoto (Yasuko Kusakabe), Hitoshi Takagi (Totoro),

Animation Production: Studio Ghibli


Synopsis: In 1950s Japan, two girls named Satsuki and Mei are relocated to the countryside by their father Tatsuo to be closer to their mother who is hospitalized due to long-term illness. As the girls grow acquainted with rural life, Mei encounters a small, bunny-like creature in the yard one day. Chasing it into the forest, she finds “Totoro”—a giant, mystical forest spirit whom she soon befriends. Before long, Satsuki too meets Totoro, and the two girls suddenly find their lives filled with magical adventures in nature and fantastical creatures of the woods.

Gauche the Cellist   Gauche the Cellist Film Poster

セロ弾きのゴーシュ Serohiki no Go-shu

Running Time: 63 mins.

Release Date: January 23rd, 1982

Director:  Isao Takahata

Writer: Isao Takahata (Script), Kenji Miyazawa (Original Novel)

Starring: Hideki Sasaki (Gauche), Fuyumi Shiraishi (Cat), Masashi Amenomori (Conductor), Junji Chiba (First Cellist), Atsuko Mine (Orchestra Musician),

Animation Production: Studio Ghibli


Gauche the Cellist Film Image

Synopsis: Gauche is a cellist in a small town orchestra. Alas, he’s not very good and with a big concert on the horizon, the conductor is getting frustrated. Gauche retreats to his house at the edge of a forest and over the next few nights he tries to practice but he’s always interrupted by various animals. A cat, a bird, a raccoon, and a mouse all show up with musical requests much to Gauche’s annoyance but what he doesn’t realise is that these requests are actually teaching him to become a better cellist…

B: The Beginning   B The Beginning Key Image

セロ弾きのゴーシュ Serohiki no Go-shu

Running Time: 27 mins.

Release Date: March 02nd, 2018

Director:  Kazuto Nakazawa, Yoshiki Yamakawa

Writer: Katsuya Ishida (Script), Kazuto Nakazawa (Original Creator)

Starring: Hiroaki Hirata (Keith Kazama Flick), Asami Seto (Lily Hoshino), Yuuki Kaji (Koku), Satomi Satou (Yuna), Toshiyuki Morikawa (Gilbert Ross),

Animation Production: Production I.G

Website ANN MAL 

The TV Films category features the Production I.G anime, B: The Beginning, a crime drama that looks really good on the basis of the trailer. It looks a lot like Psycho-Pass and that’s no bad thing! The first episode of a 12-episode run which was launched on Netflix in March is getting screened.

Synopsis: The nation of Cremona is located on an archipelago and run by a hi-tech system of computers. Despite the futuristic look of the place, supernatural things occur and nobody knows this better than Keith, a legendary investigator for the police. He is plagued by a ghost from the past while looking into a mysterious criminal organisation and trying to capture the serial killer, Killer B who is responsible for a horrific string of crimes.

Satie’s Parade (14 min) is a 2D hand-drawn animation from the award-winning Koji Yamamura, a professor at Tokyo University of the Arts. He mixes quotes taken from French composer Erik Satie’s essays on the music he composed for the 1916 ballet Parade. It can be found in the Classical (Music and Animated Movies) section/ Here’s a trailer:

Kaiju Shinwa (Quest of the Battling Gods) is a 13 minute 2D computer animated film from Yosuke Tani, a student at Tokyo University of the Arts – Graduate School of New Media. It’s a story about two Gods engaged in “a magnificent battle that transcends worlds, time and parallel universes.”

Over in the Short Film Competition 5 section we have Hunter, an eight-minute short directed by Ryoji Yamada. It concerns a hunter looking for “gossip”. Intriguing!

There are two Japanese shorts in the Midnight Specials section

Bloody Date (Original 2006 / Remake 2010, 5 mins.) MAL Director Takeno Nagao uses claymation to tell the story of a young couple attacked by an axe-wielding maniac. There’s a whole YouTube channel dedicated to Nagao’s horror-influenced output.

Negative Space (France 2017 Dirs: Ru Kawahata and Max Porter, 5 min) is from a team based in America, Tiny Inventions in the Baltimore. It is based on the poem by Ron Koertge and shows a young man and his relationship with his father who is constantly travelling. Ru Kawahata is one of the two directors and his experiences helped create the highly detailed puppets and hand-crafted sets used to tell this tale. Here’s a trailer:


Also in town for the Works in Progress section are director Seiji Kishi and writer Makoto Uezu along with the producer Yuji Higa from the studio Lerche. They are talking about their forthcoming TV anime Radiant. This is based on a French comic book by Tony Valente which is being published in Japan (source).

Radiant Anime Image

The story is about a young sorcerer’s apprentice named Seth and his group of friends, all of whom are searching for the source of an outbreak of monsters called “nemesis”. Apparently something called radiant might be that very source…

Past coverage:

Annecy International Animation Festival 2015

Annecy International Animation Festival 2016

Annecy International Animation Festival 2017

Anime wins awards at Annecy 2017

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