A Preview of Nippon Connection 2021: Animation

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Nippon Animation

Nippon Connection (June 01st – 06th) is running online for its 2021 edition. This year’s selection of animated films is small but contains some good titles. It’s difficult to programme an online festival because some film distributors/reps require theatrical distribution so a big hit like the Demon Slayer movie is unlikely. It has also been a slow year for mainstream Japanese animation compared to the 2016-2019 period. Check out the films released every weekend and you fill only find a handful of original titles that stand out amidst re-cuts and continuations of TV anime and re-releases of modern classics. It’s a small pool to choose from.

On the other hand, universities are producing highly talented animators and, as always, Nippon Connection have this covered. I’ve seen quite a few as part of my work on an animation festival so I can recommend these programmes. All are region-locked.

This post summarises all of the anime and animation that will be available to view. It’s the follow-up and last of the Nippon Connection highlight posts, following a look at Nippon Visions, Nippon Cinema, and Nippon Docs.

To find out more about the films, click on the titles.

Here are the films:

On-Gaku: Our Sound   On-gaku Our Sound Film Poster

音楽  Ongaku

Release Date: January 11th, 2020

Duration: 68 mins.

Director: Kenji Iwaisawa

Writer: Hiroyuki Ohashi (Screenplay), 

Starring: Kami Hiraiwa (Morita), Shintaro Sakamoto (Kenji), Ren Komai (Aya), Naoto Takenaka (Oba), Tateto Serizawa (Asakura), Tomoya Meno (Ota),

Animation Production: N/A

Website ANN MAL

This anime is based on the manga by Hiroyuki Ohashi. It has won praise where it has been screened and it won Best Feature Film at the Ottawa International Animation Festival.

Synopsis: One summer’s day, three outsider high school students who haven’t touched an instrument in their lives decide to form a band to express their teenage angst and impress girls. Does it matter that Kenji and his friends have never played an instrument before? Of course not – he’s got a guitar at home and his friends have a bass and drums in theirs so in the true spirit of punk, with blind confidence and absolutely minimal effort they start to make friends and influence people.

Seven Days War   Seven Days War Film Poster

ぼくらの7日間戦争  Bokura no Nanokakan Sensou

Release Date: December 13th, 2019

Duration: 88 mins.

Director: Yuuta Murano

Writer: Ichiro Okouchi (Script), Osamu Souda (Original Creator),

Starring: Kyoko Yoshine (Aya Chiyono), Takumi Kitamura (Mamoru Suzuhara), Haruka Michii (Saki Akutsu), Makoto Koichi (Malet), Megumi Han (Kaori Yamazaki),

Animation Production: Ajia-Do

Website ANN MAL

Synopsis: It is almost time for the summer holiday but the entire male student body of one class from a junior high school disappear early as they put into action a rebellion against adults. With the help of female students, they launch operations from their base in an abandoned factory in a protest against adults and their hypocrisy and corruption and their actions thrill society even as they cause chaos for the iniquitous status quo.


Sumikkogurashii: Good to Be in the CornerSumikko Gurashi Tobidasu Ehon to Himitsu no Ko Film Poster

映画 すみっコぐらし とびだす絵本とひみつのコ  Sumikko Gurashi: Tobidasu Ehon to Himitsu no Ko

Release Date: November 08th, 2019

Duration: 65 mins.

Director: Mankyuu

Writer: Takashi Sumita (Script/Series Composition), San-X (Original Creator)

Starring: Narrators – Yoshihiko Inohara, Manami Nanjo

Animation Production: Fanworks

Website ANN MAL

Synopsis: The slightly negative characters who like to hide away from sight are back as Shirokuma, a polar bear who is sensitive to cold, Penguin?, a penguin suffering an existential crisis. Tonkatsu, a piece of uneaten pork cutlet, Neko, a shy cat; and Tokage, the last dinosaur find themselves on the big screen.

Tokyo University Of The Arts: Animation Shorts

This is a selection of the best graduation films from the classes of 2020 and 2021. You are guaranteed high-quality animation from the students.

Our Little Pond (Dir: Namiko Ishidate, 15 Min. 2021, English subtitles)
A Break In The Clouds (Dir: Anna Takagi, 7 Min. 2021)
Wandala! (Dir: Akimi Miyamoto, 6 Min. 2021, English subtitles)
Small Life (Dir: Yueqi Wu, 5 Min. 2021, English subtitles)
Empty Hands (Dir: Emari Okayama, 7 Min. 2020, English subtitles)
I Am A Motif (Dir: Sijia Luo, 8 Min. 2020, English subtitles
The Big Tree In Front Of The House (Dir: Yinan Liu, 6 Min. 2020, English subtitles)
Our House / Notre maison (Dir: Caori Murata, 3 Min. 2020, English subtitles)
Strawberry Candy (Dir: Nianze Li, 7 Min. 2020, English subtitles)
Boy With Child (Dir: Yoshiro Kawakami, 10 Min. 2020, English subtitles)

Alteration Finds

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, this selection of animated shorts was curated by Dr. Catherine Munroe Hotes (Nishitakaeiga) to help viewers break out of lockdown apathy. A few of these are award-winners, there are also an international and world premiere. Having seen CastleLeaking Life, Mubi, and The Balloon Catcher, I would surmise that the programme has a range of works starting with fairy tale-like stories to challenging abstract works that move away from narrative and into pure art.

Castle (Dir: Ryotaro Miyajima, 5 Min. 2019)
Leaking Life (Dir: Shunsaku Hayashi, 5 Min. 2019)
Difference And Repetition And Coffee (Dir: Masa Kudo, 15 Min. 2020)
The Balloon Catcher (Dir: Isaku Kaneko, 6 Min. 2020)
Locomotor (Dir: Isaku Kaneko, 3 Min. 2019)
Mubi (Dir: Tomoe Obayashi 6 Min. 2019, English subtitles)
The Living Wall (Dir: Keita Kurosaka 6 Min. 2020)
parallax (Dir: Hayato Nove, 33 Min. 2021)

More information is available on the festival homepage: NipponConnection.com

3 thoughts on “A Preview of Nippon Connection 2021: Animation

  1. RE: ” three outsider high school students who haven’t touched an instrument in their lives decide to form a band to express their teenage angst and impress girls.”

    Yeah I can relate. I tried to put together a 1980s synth pop band specializing in Frank Sinatra swing tunes (maybe a liile derivitive of the Pet Shop Boys). Kind of semiserious, but fun song, made funnier by the juxtaposition of the songs performed that way.

    I had the pop sensibilities … I had the hair … I had the attitude … the ideas …
    … unfortunately … NO TALENT.

    1. You don’t need talent, just buckets of charisma!

      Funny you should mention synth pop since I watched a video on Depeche Mode this morning. Were you a fan?

      Back in the 80s, making a band was the sure-fire way to get a girl/guy. Nobody does that these days.

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