Kotatsu Japanese Animation Film Festival 2018
So I work as a writer for the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival and it’s going to launch soon. More than 10 feature films have been programmed to present the wide variety of stories and styles in Japanese animation. This year, we welcome two guests from Japan who will treat audiences to special events.
The festival gets off to a start on September 28 at 14:00 at Chapter Arts, Cardiff, with a screening of the Masaaki Yuasa’s latest film Lu Over the Wall.
夜明け告げるルーのうた 「Yoake Tsugeru Lu no Uta」
Running Time: 112 mins.
Release Date: May 19th, 2017
Director: Masaaki Yuasa
Writer: Masaaki Yuasa, Reiko Yoshida (Screenplay)
Animation Production: Science SARU
Starring: Kanon Tani (Lu), Shota Shimoda (Kai), Akira Emoto (Grandfather), Minako Kotobuki (Yuuho), Shinichi Shinohara (Lu’s father), Souma Saitou (Kunio),
Lu Over the Wall was huge last year where it picked up awards including at Annecy, where it took the “Cristal for a Feature Film”. It was directed by Masaaki Yuasa with a script written by Reiko Yoshida, a woman who has written many different anime such as A Silent Voice, Yowamushi Pedal, and Shirobako. It was produced by Yuasa’s protege (and a highly talented animator) Eun young Choi, and animated by Science SARU and these folks are the geniuses behind Mind Game, Ping Pong: The Animation, and The Tatami Galaxy amongst other great artistic titles.
It has the look of the 2009 Ghibli film Ponyo if I were to make a glib comparison but the animation and style are pure Science SARU, a studio finally picking up fans in the mainstream. The film has been picked up for UK distribution by Anime Limited.
Synopsis: Middle school student Kai finds himself forced to move from Tokyo to the declining fishing town of Hinashi to live with his father and grandfather following his parents’ divorce. For a kid from the big metropolis, there’s little for him to do besides composing music and sharing it on the Internet. One day his classmates Kunio and Yuuho invite him to join their band, and when he reluctantly accompanies them to practice on Mermaid Island, the three of them meet a mermaid named Lu. Through meeting her and playing music, Kai is slowly able to open up about his emotions but calamity soon strikes the town and he must find a way to avert it with his new-found friends and community!
With a perfect combination of fantastic animation and a sublime story full of magical characters and great music, the film is perfect for the family.
The day continues with screenings of Momotaro – Sacred Sailors, a rare chance for audiences in Wales to see how anime was used for propaganda in World War II. The evening arrives with a screening of the emotionally powerful drama, Fireworks, which takes us into an intense relationship between teenagers during a memorable summer. With characters voiced by the hottest talent in live-action Japanese cinema and with a script based on the work of Shunji Iwai, this will prove to be an emotional show-stopper. The day then ends with Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, a modern horror classic from Madhouse.
A diverse festival programme will await the audience on Saturday, September 29 along with the Japanese marketplace and a selection of wonderful events with special guests:
After a successful Q&A last year graciously conducted by Professor Yuichi Ito, Kotatsu is excited to announce we have two award-winning animators making a trip to Wales when Tsuneo Goda and Hirokazu Minegishi will present a master-class and conduct workshops and an autograph signing session. This is a very rare and unique opportunity to learn more about the craft of stop-motion animation from the creators of the highly popular Domo-kun which was aired by Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) and Nickelodeon in 2007, and Komaneko: The Curious Cat. They will bring beautiful, expressive models and a wealth of experience and advice and will interact with audience members in what is sure to be a fun and informative event open to the whole family.
We have three films directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Mary and the Witch’s Flower and, two made at Studio Ghibli, When Marnie Was There and Arrietty programmed to help celebrate cultural and artistic ties between Britain and Japan in the year of British animation as part of Anim18, a celebration of British animation.
When one thinks of Ghibli, strong female characters come to mind and Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms provides that with a tale of pure love in trying circumstances as an elfin teenage girl who doesn’t age takes care of a human boy who does. This fantasy tale comes from Mari Okada, a veteran writer who used her skills to direct what many consider one of the finest animated movies of 2018.
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
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
The film will be the directorial debut of anime screenwriter Mari Okada (The Anthem of the Heart, The Dark Maidens) and it will be animated at P.A. Works.
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…
The day then ends with a screening of the live-action adaptation of the super-popular manga Tokyo Ghoul in our traditional horror/mature slot. Sui Ishida’s dark-horror manga is brought to life with CG and features some top-class actors bringing the characters to life in a tale full of horror and action that is sure to sate the appetites of fans of the franchise.
The final day of the Kotatsu festival in Cardiff on September 30 opens with When Marnie Was There and then Hirokazu Minegishi and Tsuneo Goda will be conducting stop-motion animation demonstrations and a workshop to show people how they animate their films. These events will be followed by Q&A sessions.
The films continue with Psychic School Wars, a beautifully animated adaptation of a well-known Japanese sci-fi tale that is sure to delight a wide audience.
ねらわれた学園 「Nerawareta Gakuen」
Release Date: October 19th, 2012 (Japan)
Running Time: 106 mins
Director: Ryousuke Nakamura
Writer: Taku Mayumura (Original Story), Yuko Naito, Ryosuke Nakamura (Screenplay)
Starring: Mayu Watanabe, Yuutaro Honjou, Kana Hanazawa, Daisuke Ono
Synopsis: It is spring and another new school year and another school for 8th grade junior high school student Ryoichi Kyogoku (Ono) who has recently moved to Kamakura. Things might be boring but Kyogoku is a telepath and has been ordered by his father to use this ability to scan other people’s minds and take over the school.
Being good looking and charismatic, he wins major popularity at the school which allows him to initiate his plans. He secretly manipulates his followers and pushes aside anyone who gets in his way but there is one student who seems unaffected – Seki. Does Seki have what it takes to save everyone?
The day closes with a screening of the immensely popular Attack on Titan: The Roar of Awakening, which takes audiences back into the thrilling and gruelling fight for humanity’s survival in a world full of man-eating giants.
劇場版 進撃の巨人 覚醒の咆哮 「Shingeki no Kyojin Movie 3: Kakusei no Houkou」
Running Time: 120 mins.
Release Date: January 13th, 2018
Chief Director: Tetsuru Araki, Director: Masashi Koizuka,
Writer: Hiroshi Seko, Yasuko Kobayashi, (Screenplay), Hajime Isayama (Original Creator)
Starring: Yuuki Kaji (Eren Jaeger), Yui Ishikawa (Mikasa Ackerman), Marina Inoue (Armin Arlelt), Hiroshi Kamiya (Levi), Daisuke Ono (Erwin Smith),
Animation Production: Wit Studio
I used to be a huge fan of this show. I read the manga, a light novel or two, and watched the anime. Now, I barely watch anime at all… This is a compilation film consisting of episodes from the second season.
Synopsis from My Anime List: Eren Yeager and others of the 104th Training Corps have just begun to become full members of the Survey Corps. As they ready themselves to face the Titans once again, their preparations are interrupted by the invasion of Wall Rose—but all is not as it seems as more mysteries are unravelled. As the Survey Corps races to save the wall, they uncover more about the invading Titans and the dark secrets of their own members.
Running alongside the film screenings and the animation workshops will be a series of Japanese-themed events and a Japanese marketplace which sells things such as food, model kits, video games and manga and other goods from Japan.
We also have festival raffle to win lots of prizes such as signed goods from Tsuneo Goda and Hirokazu Minegishi and Aardman.
The festival launches in the beautiful coastal town of Aberystwyth at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Saturday, October 20 at 10:00, with a screening of the Studio Ghibli When Marnie Was There. This will be followed by the family film Lu Over the Wall at 12:30 before the cinematic delights finish with a 15:00 screening of Psychic School Wars.
The Kotatsu raffle will be held throughout Saturday with goods from Japan on offer to people who take part.
Sunday, October 21 opens with Mamoru Hosoda’s latest eagerly-anticipated title, Mirai, which is a magical tale of the time-travelling antics.
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
Probably film of the week by a long-shot. The reviews from this year’s Cannes film festival paint this to be a home-run for Mamoru Hosoda.
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.
The film got its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and will be screened at the BFI London Film Festival and Kotatsu is proud to be bringing it to Wales when it screens in Aberystwyth at 13:45.
The next film to follow is the emotionally powerful drama, Fireworks at 15:35, and the final day of Kotatsu 2018 closes with Attack on Titan: The Roar of Awakening.