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Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2018 Review Round-Up: Mamoru Hosoda’s “Mirai”

Mamoru Hosoda’s new Mirai no Mirai (Mirai of the Future) was screened at Cannes in the Directors’ Fortnight section and it took a while for a bunch of reviews to be published online but they are there to be discovered and they are all full of praise for the film.

Mirai

Mirai of the Future Film Image

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

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.

As previously written, great plaudits for the film. Universal praise. A lot of focus is placed on Hosoda’s own experiences of being a father in a family where a newborn girl took the attention of the parents away from the elder sibling, a boy, and this dose of reality gives the story its hearty content.  

…Hosoda turns life lessons into an exuberant and enriching story full of intriguing ideas…

…From the very start Hosoda nails the chaos and pure joy of family life.” Katherine McLaughlinSciFiNow

Films based on families are what Hosoda tends to do and he tends to mix human drama with the fantastical to make it palatable. There were unconventional families showing the dedication and beauty of personal connections in Wolf Children, Summer Wars, and The Boy and the Beast. The film is closer to The Girl Who Leapt Through Time since it has time-travel with a coming-of-age story and we have time-travel again with all the familiar themes.

Once Hosoda’s fantastical premise kicks in, Mirai unfolds into an episodic, almost plotless story of a child finding their place in the world, and discovering the responsibilities and relationships that help make up their developing identity.” Michael Leader – Little White Lies

The story sounds simple enough and easy to dive into, much like Hosoda’s other films. The real richness comes from the characters and family dynamics.

The film gets praise for its character design/animation as well as the design of locations such as the house. It shows the care and attention that Hosoda typically puts into his films. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars really capture the imagination with their locations which are so rich with details, well, I have tried on a number of occasions hunting down an old post from a blogger which went into detail about specific rooms and the symbolism of decorations.

“…the character design walks the line with grace between big-eyed anime cutesiness and closely observed realism, capturing with insightful wit the way dogs and kids move and wiggle, especially given the fact that they have different centers of gravity compared to adults. There are also some finely timed slapstick moments, and altogether, the story lasts a comparatively sprightly and pleasant 98 minutes, displaying a brevity that would serve more cartoons from the region well.” Leslie FelperinThe Hollywood Reporter

This film is going to be good!

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Anime Weekender at the BFI Southbank in London in May

The BFI Southbank in London is running another “Anime Weekender” event in May with three days featuring some of the most recent anime releases. The tickets for the Weekender are on sale so just scroll down to see what is on offer. Dates and times have been put in as well as links to each film which will allow you to book tickets so just click on the titles.

Here’s what’s on offer:

In This Corner of the World Film Image

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Japanese Films at Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2018

Annecy 2018 Banner

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:

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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:

Continue reading “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”

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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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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