The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival takes place in Wales later this month in Cardiff and again at the end of October in Aberystwyth. It is the only film event in Wales to show anime on the big screen and takes place over the course of a day in the two locations. The programming team has brought out a selection of classics and some newer titles that show some of the best modern animated films from Japan.
This year’s events once again take place in the Chapter Arts Centre and the Aberystwyth Arts Centre and there are titles from Madhouse and Production I.G with the psycho-thriller Perfect Blue (directed by the genius auteur Satoshi Kon) and Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, the film which launched studio Gainax, being two highlights.
I think it’s fair to say that for any anime fan who has seen Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise it marks them. In a good way obviously because it becomes a ur-text of the anime medium – Studio Gainax at their most ambitious and best, taking a huge budget and crafting a film crammed full of alternative-reality/sci-fi quality goodness.
It takes place in a world like our own but not, a highly stylised yet somehow familiar place it is peopled with humans and not blow-up dolls.
The main character is one of the most fascinating in anime, a disenchanted, indifferent melancholic who couldn’t make it in the air-force and finds himself stuck in a clapped out space program that people find laughable and the government finds an embarrassment. He becomes driven to redeem himself after a chance encounter with a deeply religious woman and by the end, he achieves a form of enlightenment. It’s not just a personal story as we get to see the nitty-gritty of government machinations and war, the pressures, friendships and threats that the lead finds and after becoming familiar with the guys running the space program, you feel these people are real individuals with conflicting ideals who don’t realise they are pawns in a bigger game of war.
Ultimately it’s a celebration of the human spirit and friendship and it’s one of the most beautiful and detailed anime I have ever seen. Furthermore, it’s soundtrack was composed by legendary composer Ryuichi Sakamoto (Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, Tony Takitani, The Last Emperor). His music is in this AMV which acts as a summary for the movie.
Between Ryuichi Sakamoto’s awesome soundtrack and the beauty of the anime, this AMV reminds me of the first time I watched it – I still get chills up and down my spine.
If you haven’t seen the anime then watch it. If you have, enjoy the AMV and relive some memories.