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Japanese Animation at the London International Animation Festival 2017

The 14th London International Animation Festival (LIAF 17) returns to the Barbican from 1st-10th December and there are 200 animated shorts and features slated to appear as well as a lot of guests who will take part in Q&As and presentations. There is a focus on the on-screen representation of women and the usual high-quality and diverse selection of films which show the various media used in making the many different films.

As the organisers have written on their site,

This year’s uncompromising programme promises to inspire, delight and challenge the notion that animation is merely for the 3D-CGI blockbuster genre or cute cartoons for kids. Independent animation is an art form that continues to thrive and develop as a breathtaking medley of styles, materials, techniques and production – including hand drawn, paint on glass, collage, sculpture, cut outs, puppets, abstract, sand/salt, the interesting developments in CGI – all of which can be seen at LIAF 2017.

Here’s what’s on offer:

Gokurosama Image

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The Night is Short, Walk on Girl 夜は短し歩けよ乙女 2017 Director: Masaaki Yuasa

The Night is Short, Walk on Girl

夜は短し歩けよ乙女 「Yoru wa Mijikashi Aruke yo Otome

Release date: April 07th, 2017    The Night is Short, Walk on Girl Film Poster

Running Time: 93 mins.

Director: Masaaki Yuasa

Writer: Masaaki Yuasa, Reiko Yoshida (Screenplay) Tomihiko Morimi (Original Novel),

Animation Production: Science SARU

Starring: Kana Hanazawa (Kurokami no Otome), Gen Hoshino (Senpai), Kazuya Nakai (Seitarou Higuchi), Yuuko Kaida (Ryouko Hanuki), Nobuyuki Hiyama (Johnny), Aoi Yuuki (Princess Daruma), Junichi Suwabe (Nise Jougasaki),

MAL     IMDB    Website

The Night is Short, Walk on Girl is the latest film from anime auteur Masaaki Yuasa and his studio Science Saru. One of two award-winning movies he has released in 2017 (the other being Lu Over the Wall which took top prize at Annecy), this film is the very definition of the word exuberant in terms of story and style and should cement Yuasa as one of the best anime directors around.

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Mind Game マインド・ゲーム  (2004) Dir: Masaaki Yuasa

Mind Game

マインド・ゲーム 「Maindo Ge-mu    
Mind Game Film Poster
Release Date:
August 07th, 2004

Running Time: 104 mins.

Director: Masaaki Yuasa

Writer: Masaaki Yuasa (Screenplay), Robin Nishi (Original Manga),

Animation Production: Studio 4°C

Starring: Sayaka Maeda (Myon), Koji Imada (Nishi), Seiko Takuma (Yan), Jouji Shimaki (Yakuza Boss), Takahashi Fujii (Ji-san),

MAL      IMDB

Mind Game is God-tier filmmaking. It is incredible. It is inventive. It is inspirational. It is imaginative. Its visual and aural aspects are deliberately crude yet beautiful. Its story is intricate yet delivered in a madcap way that you may miss the genius plot device behind the whole narrative and the basis of a whole host of directorial tricks. Its animation is full of life itself. Indeed, Mind Game IS life itself!

I have started with this hyperbole because the experience of seeing it in a cinema is life-affirming. It reminds me of why I fell in love with anime and how full of joy life is.

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Japanese Films at the London East Asian Film Festival 2017

The 2017 edition of the London East Asia Film Festival takes place from October 19th to the 29th. This is the second year of the festival and it features a great selection of films from Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, and Japan. The Japanese selection features some films fresh from Cannes, Camera Japan, Kotatsu, and other festivals and there are two new titles for me to write about, one live-action film and one anime.

London East Asia Film Festival 2017 Poster

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Camera Japan 2017 Preview: Anime

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:

Hirune Hime Film Image 1

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A Preview of Camera Japan 2017

Camera Japan Logo

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

Feature Films  |  Anime and Short Anime Films |  Documentaries

Special Screenings and Short Films   |   Workshops and Events

Check back over the week to read more!

So, what’s happening? Camera Japan starts off with a special event in Rotterdam on the 15th September at an artistic venue known as WORM. The event consists of a film screening and music. The film getting screened is Gui aiueo:S A Stone from Another Mountain to Polish Your Own Stone, an experimental black-and-white documentary film about a band travelling Japan and exploring different sounds and this is followed by a concert by Krautrock band Minami Deutsch who hail from Tokyo and sound like Kraftwerk.

The main body of the festival then starts with the Rotterdam run which will take place from 21st– 24th September at LantarenVenster and this is where the bulk of the films and events will be hosted. The festival then moves to Amsterdam from 29th September 01st October and there will be lots to see. I have added annotations to show what is being screened where. It’s needed because there is so much on offer.

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Kotatsu Japanese Animation Film Festival 2017 Preview

The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival is back this Autumn and like in previous years (2016, 2015, 2014) I’m working for and covering it! Here’s information on this year’s event!The Night is Short, Walk on Girl Film Image

Chapter – September 29th – October 1st, 2017

Aberystwyth Arts Centre – October 28th, 2017

The Largest Festival of Japanese Animation in Wales Announces Dates, Locations and Films for 2017

The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival returns to Wales for another edition in 2017 with audiences able to enjoy a whole host of Welsh premieres, a Japanese marketplace, and a Q&A and special film screening hosted by an important figure from the Japanese animation industry.

The festival begins in Cardiff at Chapter Arts on the evening of Friday, September 29th with a screening of Masaaki Yuasa’s film The Night is Short, Walk on Girl (2017), a charming romantic romp featuring a love-sick student chasing a girl through the streets of Kyoto, encountering magic and weird situations as he does so. Festival head, Eiko Ishii Meredith will be on hand to host the opening ceremony and a party to celebrate the start of the festival which will last until October 01st and include a diverse array of films from near-future tales Napping Princess (2017) to the internationally famous mega-hit Your Name (2016). The Cardiff portion of the festival ends with a screening of another Yuasa film, the much-requested Mind Game (2004), a film definitely sure to please fans of surreal and adventurous animation. This is the perfect chance for people to see it on the big-screen since it is rarely screened. A selection of these films will then be screened at the Aberystywth Arts Centre on October 28th as Kotatsu helps to widen access to Japanese animated films to audiences in different locations.

We are also very excited to welcome a very special guest to Wales, Professor Yuichi Ito. He is an award-winning animator who works in television and film as well as teaching at Tokyo National University of Arts. He will be travelling from Japan to Europe where he will present films and a Q&A to the public. He has graciously chosen Kotatsu (September 30th) as one of his two UK dates the other will be at the Encounters Film Festival in Bristol on September 22nd.

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The 1983 Anime Adaptation of “Barefoot Gen” will be Screened at the Japanese Embassy on July 25th

The Japanese Embassy in London will screen the anime adaption of Barefoot Gen which was released in 1983. I have not seen the film or read the manga but I have visited Hiroshima and it is a wonderful city. The museum dedicated to the atomic bombing is full of heartbreaking exhibits. While I don’t discuss politics here, I think that nuclear weapons are evil and any nation that has a stockpile should decommission them. If anybody disagrees, perhaps seeing this film and seeing people who have suffered the consequences of their use might change their minds.

The event is free to attend but anyone interested in being part of the audience must book in advance to secure a place.

Here’s the information:

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The Satoshi Kon Film “Millennium Actress” will be screened at the Barbican on July 03rd

The Barbican is running a season with a fantastic title, Cinema Matters: Bigger than Life and it’s all about how cinema has changed the world and the stars on the big screen who become legends. Think about the mega-stars of Japanese film history and you will come up with Toshiro Mifune and Setsuko Hara, both of whom worked with the great directors of the Golden Age in many classics and both of whom, some might say, were profoundly Japanese in their behaviour and emblematic of their nation’s ideals on masculinity and femininity.

The two might be highly important in the way the wider world views Japan but only Setsuko Hara got an anime movie more or less made about her and that movie will be screened at the Barbican. It’s the Satoshi Kon classic Millennium Actress and it will be screened on July 03rd at 20:45.

Here are the details:

Millenium Actress Film Image

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Anime Wins Big at the Annecy International Film Festival 2017

The Annecy International Film Festival is one of the biggest animated film festival in the world and anime have taken top awards in this year’s edition. The “Cristal for a Feature Film” award went to Masaaki (Mind Game, Tatami Galaxi, Ping Pong the Animation) Yuasa’s Lu Over the Wall.

Lu Over the Wall Annecy

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