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Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival presents: Japanese Animated Shorts at Cardiff International Animation Festival 2018

Lady Nosferatu Film Image

On Saturday April 21st and Sunday April 22nd, staff from Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival will be at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff to present a series of short film screenings from Japan as part of the Cardiff International Animation Festival (CIAF). These are from a special programme of animated graduate films from Japan’s top National art University, Tokyo National University of Arts Graduate School and Kotatsu was able to get these thanks to Professor Yuichi Ito who oversees the course and came to last year’s Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival.

The stories are some of the best to have been produced by graduates from the university and this is a rare chance to see the likes of them outside of the London International Animated Film Festival and Japan. Here are more details on the CIAF page and a Geidai page set up to showcase some of the content.

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Mari Okada Visits the UK in April: Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin on Saturday 14th April and the Prince Charles Cinema in London on Monday 16th April

Okada Mari Image
Image from: https://woman.infoseek.co.jp/news/entertainment/dmenueiga_1103087

In big news for UK anime fans, veteran writer Mari Okada will attend two screenings of her film Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms in April. This is a film which she wrote and directed and it is getting two special screenings ahead of a cinema release in the UK and Ireland on June 27th. Indeed, it’s her debut as a director and Okada will do a live Q&A session at both screenings so go on down to the screenings to find out how it was made and, just as importantly, to make the very talented Mari Okada feel welcome in the UK!

Here are the details:

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Sword of the Stranger ストレンヂア -無皇刃譚- Dir: Masahiro Ando (2007)

Sword of the Stranger    Sword of the Stranger Film Poster

ストレンヂア -無皇刃譚- Mukou Hadan

Running Time: 82 mins.

Release Date: September 29th, 2007

Director:  Masahiro Ando

Writer: Fumihiko Takayama (Screenplay),

Starring: Tomoya Nagase (Nanashi), Yuri Chinen (Kotarou), Atsushi Ii (Bailuan), Kouichi Yamadera (Luolan Rarou), Junko Minagawa (Mu-You),

Animation Production: STUDIO BONES

Website MAL ANN

Sword of the Stranger is an incredible action spectacle built around a good old fashioned chambara story brought to life with a flair and dedication to the details of the era and the characters in it through an incredible anime aesthetic that accentuates the physical world, a place of movement, passion, lies, loyalty, and action!

The story kicks off in Sengoku era Japan with intrigue and excitement as the first thing we see is a temple set ablaze and a boy named Kotaro (Yuri Chinen) and his loyal dog Tobimaru fleeing the scene. He is being pursued by the royal army of China’s Ming Dynasty. They have been hunting him for over a year and the net is closing as the boy and his dog run through the bleak wintry countryside and along the coast of the small state of Akaike. When Tobimaru is injured in an ambush, Kotaro reluctantly recruits a mysterious, nameless samurai as his bodyguard with the promise of payment. However, “No-name” (Tomoya Nagase) has a guilty past and his own inner demons to battle, all of which comes out in the open in an epic chase narrative. 

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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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