Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival Preview

Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival Banner

The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival is a small event that takes place over the course of a day at Chapter Arts, a small but trendy (read, hipsterish) art house cinema and theatre space tucked away in a borough of Cardiff, South Wales.The festival may be small but thanks to the passion of its founder it is bright and rapidly expanding with an increasingly ambitious line-up of feature-length and short anime films across a number of genres and for a number of ages. A sign of the changes comes in the change of date, instead of the wintry atmosphere of November, this year’s festival takes place in the heat of Spring and in two locations with the sea-side town Aberystwyth joining the action.

I attended last year’s festival where I made the mistake of not pre-booking a ticket and missed the chance to see Makoto Shinkai’s Children Who Chase Lost Voices which was sold out. Instead I had to spend three hours at the cafe bar nursing a couple of coffees before I watched the rather good Berserk Golden Age Arc I: The Egg of the KingI have been following this festival with great interest because the line-up of films programmed picks some of the best of the titles released in Japan and touring the UK.

The festival is less than a fortnight away and the details have been released. Here are the dates and the films on offer.

Cardiff: Chapter Arts, Saturday 7th June 2014

Aberystwyth: Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Saturday 21st June 2014

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Japanese Films at the Leeds International Film Festival 2013 Part 1: Anime

Genki Leeds International Animation Film Festival 2013 Banner

The 27th Leeds International Film Festival takes place from November 06th to the 21st and there is plenty of anime getting screened on the Fanomenon Anime Day on Sunday, November 17th. There are so many Japanese live-action films that they will get a separate post. Here is the selection of anime titles on offer and these are just as great. Just click on the titles to get more information such as times and ticket prices: 

11:00 a.m.

The Garden of Words                     Garden of Words Film Poster          

Running Time: 46 mins

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Writer: Makoto Shinkai

Starring: Kana Hanazawa (Yukino), Miyu Irino (Takao)

Makoto Shinkai’s latest film is typically visually and audibly stunning and is set to get a UK release thanks to Anime Limited. Why wait for the DVD when you can see it at the festival on the big screen.

“We met, for each of us to walk forward.

Takao is a 15-year-old boy with dreams of becoming a professional shoe designer and was skipping high school, sketching shoes in a Japanese garden when he encounters a mysterious older woman, a 27-year-old named Yukino. Without arranging it they end up meeting again and again, but only on rainy days, deepening their relationship and opening up to each other. But the end of the rainy season soon approaches…

 

HAL                                  Hal Film Poster

Running Time: 50 mins

Running Time:

Director: Ryōtarō Makihara

Writer: Izumi Kizara (Screenplay),

Starring: Yōko Hikasa (Kurumi), Yoshimasa Hosoya (Haru), Mamoru Miyano (Ryuu)

This near-future romance is called Hal and it sounds like a romantic Time of Eve with its mixture of androids and falling in love.  It stars the voices of Yōko Hikasa (Saeki in Aku no Hana), Mamoru Miyano and Yoshimasa Hosoya (Level E). The director Ryōtarō Makihara has a lot of experience with TV anime like directing an episode of Tatami Galaxy and MonsterSummer Wars and Le Chevalier D’Eon. Music comes from Michiru Oshima who scored the awesome flamenco inspired Fuse: A Gungirl’s Detective Story and the melancholy Le Chevalier D’Eon. The anime is produced by Wit Studio who are bringing a thrillingly dark title to television screens with Attack on Titan.

 

Kurumi (Hikasa) likes Haru (Hosoya) but their seemingly happy life ends when a plane accident takes Haru from the mortal world. A robot version of Haru, Hal, emerges as a substitute. As the two live together Kurumi gradually opens her memories and mind to him.

Continue reading “Japanese Films at the Leeds International Film Festival 2013 Part 1: Anime”

Scotland Loves Animation 2013 Festival Line-Up

Genki Scotland Loves Animation 2013 Banner

On the day that Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement from the production of feature-length films has been announced, I report about this year’s Scotland Loves Animation takes place in Glasgow (October 11th-13th) and Edinburgh (October 14th-20th). If the former bit of news is sad for the loss tat the film and anime world will suffer then the line-up offers positivity because these titles have so much imagination and originality that, even with the Miyazaki-sized hole in anime, great works will still be made.

The line-up features a lot of the biggest anime films released in Japan over the last two years. There are some genuinely lovely surprises like Fuse: A Gun Girl’s Detective Story, Garden of Words, and Gusko Budori and some great surprises like Hal and Patema Inverted. Some of these films already have UK distribution deals and some are classics that are getting re-released.

I have already covered a lot of the titles in previews and even reviewed one so here’s the list titles by location then that will be followed by the trailers:

  Continue reading “Scotland Loves Animation 2013 Festival Line-Up”

Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, The Samurai That Night, The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky, Beautiful World Trailers and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Ikaruga IdealThis week I started with a trailer for World War Z which looks like it will be a botched adaptation of the wonderful source novel. I then posted a rather late report about my experiences at the 56th BFI London Film Festival and I posted a review of The Wolf Children on Thursday after watching The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. Here’s a short version of my review of The Wolf Children – one of the best animated films I have ever seen. The reviews for the other films I saw at the festival will appear over the next week before I start off a new season.

What do the Japanese movie charts look like this week?

  1. The Floating Castle
  2. Lesson of the Evil
  3. A Chorus of Angels
  4. Smile Precure!
  5. Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away
  6. Fly with the Gold
  7. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
  8. Paranormal Activity 4
  9. The Expendables 2
  10. Tsunagu

The Floating Castle remains at number one for its second week and Takashi Miike menaces the charts with his latest him, The Lesson of Evil hitting number two after being released last week. Interestingly Tsunagu hangs on in the top ten after six weeks and rakes in the money. I did not think it would have the staying power…

What Japanese films are released today?

Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo                       Evangelion 3 Film Poster

Japanese Title: ヴァンゲリ新 新劇場版:Q Quickening

Romaji: Evangelion Shin Gekijoban: Kyu

Release Date:  17th November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hideaki Anno, Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki, Mahiro Maeda

Writer:  Hideaki Anno

Starring: Megumi Hayashibara, Megumi Ogata, Akira Ishida, Yuko Miyamura, Kotono Mitsuishi, Takehito Koyasu, Fumihiko Tachiki, Yuriko Yamaguchi, Motomu Kiyokawa, Hiro Yuuki, Miki Nagasawa, Maaya Sakamoto

Neon Genesis Evangelion makes an impact on the Japanese charts today! This seminal 90’s anime re-wrote the rules for the mecha genre as it was a post-modern take that combined mecha tropes with crazed religion, science and the twisted imagination and state of near depression of anime veteran Hideaki Anno. With Evangelion he did what Lars von Trier did with Melancholia and gave us a devastating visual view of depression and other psychological maladies. Watching the teen pilots navigate the hell that is adolescence and deal with the psycho-sexual nightmarish monsters and emotionally complex adults was gripping, disturbing but ultimately uplifting (although very apocalyptic).

Hideaki Anno claimed he was not happy with the way the series developed and released a number of films which tried to retell the ending of the show, ending on an even darker note. Since then Evangelion has been a merchandise machine and has retained its popularity which is why Anno has been given a chance to remake the TV series into a number of film which offer what he considers to be his ultimate vision. The first two films in the four-part series have been released in the west to rapturous reviews, this is the third. To celebrate the release of the film, numerous videos have been released including a music video for Hikaru Utada.

While the six-minute preview is not flashy it looks promising. The cast has the familiar seiyuu from the television shows including major stars like the prolific and wonderful voice actress Megumi Hayashibara (Paprika in Paprika – she also turned up in The Wolf Children) who voices Rei Ayanami and Pen Pen, Megumi Ogata who plays Shinji Ikari, Akira Ishida (Keiju Tabuki in Mawaru Penguindrum), Yuko Miyamura (Casca in Berserk – the girl in the training video in Battle Royale), Hiro Yuuki (Takaomi in Mysterious Girlfriend X), Miki Nagasawa (Mutio in Blue Submarine No.6), Maaya Sakamoto (Hitomi in Escaflowne). All of these anime listed I love which is just more reason to love the film.

The Samurai That Night                                    The Samurai That Night Movie Poster

Japanese Title: その よる の 侍

Romaji: Sono Yoru no Samurai

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Masaaki Akahori

Writer: Masaaki Akahori

Starring: Masato Sakai, Takayuki Yamada, Hirofumi Arai, Gou Ayano, Maki Sakai, Tomorowo Taguchi, Haruka Kinami, Tsutomu Takahashi, Mitsuki Tanimura, Sakura Ando, Denden

Stage actor Masaaki Akahori makes his debut film by adapting one of his plays for the screen. It screened at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. The trailer looks good and it stars familiar names like Sakura Ando (Our Homeland, Love Exposure, For Love’s Sake), Denden (Cure, Cold Fish, Himizu), Hirofumi Arai (Blazing Famiglia, Helter Skelter), Takayuki Yamada (Thirteen Assassins, The Cat Returns, The Seaside Motel), Gou Ayano (Gantz, A Man with Style) and Masato Sakai who stars in Key of Life and I will have a review of that film ready for Monday!

Kenichi Nakamura (Masato Sakai) is the manager of a small ironworks who lost his wife (Maki Sakai) in a hit-and-run incident five years ago. Since then his life has become mundane. After the loutish driver Kijima (Yamada) who committed the crime is released from prison he receives threatening letters daily which state that both he and the anonymous writer will die on the anniversary of the incident. Kenichi’s friends and relatives try to stop him from embarking on his path of revenge but he is determined to avenge his wife.

 

The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky                     The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky Movie Poster

Japanese Title: ふがいない 僕 は 空 を 見た

Romaji: Fugainai Boku wa Sora wo Mita

Release Date: 17th November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 142 mins.

Director: Yuki Tanada

Writer: Kosuke Mukai, Misumi Kubo (Novel)

Starring: Tomoko Tabata, Kento Nagayama, Masataka Kubota, Mieko Harada, Takahiro Miura, Miharu Tanaka Takashi Yamanaka

The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky is based on a novel written by Misumi Kubo. It played at this year’s Toronto Film Festival and from this trailer and a review on the Japan Times it looks quite dramatic. It stars the beautiful Tomoko Tabata (Blood and Bones,The Hidden Blade), the handsome Kento Nagayama (Crime or Punishment?!?), the young Masataka Kubota (13 Assassins), Takahiro Miura (Tokyo Playboy Club), and Mieko Harada (Helter Skelter). This looks like a good realist drama.

Anzu (Tabata) is a depressed housewife who lives with a nagging mother-in-law and indifferent husband. When she attends an anime convention in cosplay she meets a teenager named Takumi (Nagayama). The two start an affair at Anzu’s home. At this point, those already in Takumi’s life go through emotional upheaval of their own as a classmate (Tanaka) confesses her love for him and his friend Fukuda (Kubota) finds himself at the mercy of a loan shark who has come to collect his mother’s debts. This is just the start of the emotional turmoil for all characters involved.

 

Beautiful World                                Beautiful World Film Poster

Japanese Title:任侠 ヘルパー

Romaji: Ninkyo Herupa-

Release Date: 17th November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 134 mins.

Director: Hiroshi Nishitani

Writer: N/A

Starring: Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, Narumi Yasuda, Teruyuki Kagawa, Meisa Kuroki, Rei Akimoto, Ayane Omori, Kaho, Shunsuke Kazama, Ryudo Uzaki, Tetta Sugimoto, Masaaki Sakai

When I saw the title Beautiful World I immediately thought of Kino’s Journey and I smiled… Then I read the details and my heart broke a little bit. Alas, this has no connection to the wonderful anime. This is a drama set in the real world and it is directed by Hiroshi Nishitani who has had a varied career but his most interesting film, for me, is Suspect X based on the decent crime thriller The Devotion of Suspect X written by Keigo Higashino. For Beautiful World, he adapts a TV series which stars SMAP member Tsuyoshi Kusanagi who was last seen on the big screen in Dearest. Tsuyoshi is supported by Teruyuki Kagawa (Key of Life, Tokyo Sonata), Narumi Yasuda (Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time), Kaho (Funky Forest: The First Contact), Meisa Kuroki (Who’s Camus Anyway, Vexille), Shunsuke Kazama (From Up on Poppy Hill), and Tetta Sugimoto (Outrage, Departures). The trailer seems to be leaning towards the sentimental but Tsuyoshi looks like he might be capable of giving a great performance.

Former gangster Hikoichi (Kusanagi) is trying to live a straight life and takes up work at a convenience store. One day an old man named Yuzo (Sakai) robs the store but when the police arrest Yuzo they also arrest Hikoichi. Yuzo tells him that when he is in trouble he should see a man named Asahina (Uzaki). When Hikoichi is released from prison he travels to Taikai city to meet Asahina where a local government official named Teruo Yashiro (Kagawa) is running a welfare project that will cause problems for a community. The paths of these men will collide as Hikoichi comes to the aid of the community. 

Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo Theatrical Trailer

Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo              Evangelion 3 Film Poster

Japanese Title: ヴァンゲリ新 新劇場版:Q Quickening

Romaji: Evangelion Shin Gekijoban: Kyu

Release Date:  17th November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hideaki Anno, Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki, Mahiro Maeda

Writer:  Hideaki Anno

Starring: Megumi Hayashibara, Megumi Ogata, Akira Ishida, Yuko Miyamura, Kotono Mitsuishi, Takehito Koyasu, Fumihiko Tachiki, Yuriko Yamaguchi, Motomu Kiyokawa, Hiro Yuuki, Miki Nagasawa, Maaya Sakamoto

Less than a week after I posted the web trailer for Evangelion 3.0, a full theatrical trailer is released. That is probably because the film is set to impact Japanese cinemas in two weeks. In any case this is the third of a four part re-telling of Hideaki Anno’s retelling of his classic anime series.  He is using a bigger budget and the skills of Studio Khara to craft what looks to be a suitably epic film!

The cast has the familiar seiyuu from the television shows including major stars like the prolific and wonderful VA Megumi Hayashibara (Pai in 3×3 Eyes, Nuku Nuku in the guilty pleasure Cat Girl Nuku Nuku and Paprika in Paprika – she also turned up in a small role in The Wolf Children) who voices Rei Ayanami and Pen Pen. Other names include Megumi Ogata who plays Shinji Ikari, Akira Ishida (Keiju Tabuki in Mawaru Penguindrum), Yuko Miyamura (Casca in Berserk – interestingly she was the girl in the training video in Battle Royale), Hiro Yuuki (Takaomi in Mysterious Girlfriend X), Miki Nagasawa (Mutio in Blue Submarine No.6), Maaya Sakamoto (Hitomi in Escaflowne). Quite an illustrious cast.

Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo Trailer

Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo                                                Evangelion 3 Film Poster

Japanese Title: ヴァンゲリ新 新劇場版:Q Quickening

Romaji: Evangelion Shin Gekijoban: Kyu

Release Date:  17th November 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Hideaki Anno, Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki, Mahiro Maeda

Writer:  Hideaki Anno

Starring: Megumi Hayashibara, Megumi Ogata, Akira Ishida, Yuko Miyamura, Kotono Mitsuishi, Takehito Koyasu, Fumihiko Tachiki, Yuriko Yamaguchi, Motomu Kiyokawa, Hiro Yuuki, Miki Nagasawa, Maaya Sakamoto

Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of those anime series that marks everyone who watches it. This 90’s anime is smart, intelligent, imaginative, emotionally devastating and uplifting and visually stunning. It was a post-modern take on the mecha genre that combined mecha tropes with crazed religion, science and the twisted imagination and state of near depression of anime veteran Hideaki Anno.

It certainly marked me. I remember being glued to the television on Saturday mornings and being blown away. I remember being gripped all the way to the end and having my favourite characters. I remember the anger I felt when Asuka suffered her fate (as I mentioned in my anime heroines series last year) and welling up with emotions when the series came to the end and Shinji… well, I won’t spoil it. I was moved to tears and if you have yet to see the series, watch it because you will be too.

Then Anno claimed he was not happy with the way the series developed and released a number of films which tried to retell the ending of the show. I have yet to see them but from what I have heard I am glad I have not. Anyway, Evangelion has become quite the money spinner as numerous manga, action figures, models and other cash-ins like pachinko machines and gatchapon testament so it was inevitable that there would be new films on the classic franchise. This film is the third of four which, Anno claims, is how he originally envisioned Evangelion being if it had the time and budget to develop back when the TV show first aired. It looks stunning.