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”

The Garden of Words, Someone’s Gaze, Real, Kinoshita Keisuke Story, Dogs and Cats and Humans Earthquake of Animals 2, Two Years of Cancer and Yoko Enjoys Life, AKIKO Portrait of a Dancer by AKIKO, Kankin Tantei Trailers

Saturday MahouThe week started with the announcement of Hirokazu Koreeda’s win of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his latest film Like Father Like Son. I followed that with news on the BFI Nikkatsu Season and then my take on the very amusing fantasy/comedy anime Hataraku Maou-Sama and I’m writing up my thoughts on Red Data Girl. In terms of films I watched 2LDK and that was it. I really need to review it but finding time is tough. Tonight I am going to watch Kuroneko and tomorrow I will try and watch something else… I can’t decide what but it will probably be anime. Ah, this time next week I’ll be in London watching Japanese films on the big screen at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival! Awesome!

Before we get into the trailers, here’s an image from Takashi Shimizu’s Live Action Kiki’s Delivery Service:

Kiki's Delivery Service Live Action

16-year-old Fūka Koshiba stars as the magical good-natured witch Kiki. This story is based on the book and has no connection to the Ghibli anime according to Anime News Network. The film is directed by horror veteran Takashi Shimizu (Ju-On The Curse 1 & 2) and written by Satoko Okudera (The Wolf Children).

The trailers stretch across May and June with Makoto Shinkai’s latest films getting its release on May 31st and a bunch of live-action titles going on June 01st.

The Garden of Words                               Garden of Words Film Poster

Japanese Title: 言の葉の庭 

Romaji: Kotonoha no Niwa

Release Date: May 31st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 46 mins

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Writer: Makoto Shinkai

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

Makoto Shinkai’s latest film was released yesterday. The anime looks and sounds stunning. The depiction of the world, the rain and the plants, and the highlighting of natural sounds stand out. It looks very immersive. A five minute promo was released quite recently and so here is the trailer and the promo.

“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 named Yukino who is 27. 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…


The Gaze of Another                               The Gaze of Another Film Poster

Japanese Title: だれかのまなざし

Romaji: Dare ka no Manazashi

Release Date: May 31st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 7 mins

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Writer: Makoto Shinkai

Starring: Aya Hirano (Katari),  Satomi Hanamura (Aya Okamura), Shinji OGawa

This short was produced for a home living exposition that took place at the Tokyo International Forums in February. The themes are “the future” and “family ties” and we watch the story of the growth of a family from the point of view of the cat. Seiyuu involved include Satomi Hanamura (Kanae in 5 Centimetres Per Second), Aya Hirano (Kana in Nura Rise of the Yokai Clan) and Shinji Ogawa (Suguru in Roujin Z and Fukushima in Patlabor: The Movie).

June Trailers:

Real                                                                                 Real Film Poster

Japanese Title: リアル 完全なる首長 竜の日

Romaji: Riaru Kanzen’naru Shuchou Ryuu no Hi

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 127 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Screenplay), Rokuro Inui (Original Novel)

Starring: Takeru Sato, Haruka Ayase, Jo Odagiri, Miki Nakatani, Shota Sometani, Keisuke Horibe, Kyoko Koizumi, Keisuke Horibe, Yuki Kan


After my embarrassingly enthusiasm was displayed in a rambling preview I can finally take in the reviews of the films and see if it lives up to y lofty expectations. This is Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s latest film. After helming TV dorama Penance he has gone on to make this big-budget sci-fi thriller. The film is based on the 2011 novel Riaru Kanzen’naru Shuchou Ryuu no Hi, written by Rokuro Inui and it stars a mixture of new and familiar actors like Shota Sometani (Himizu), Haruka Ayase (Ichi), Miki Nakatani (Loft, Zero Focus), Joe Odagiri (Adrift in TokyoMushishi, Retribution and Bright Future) and Kyoko Koizumi, (Survive Style 5+).

Koichi (Sato) and Atsumi (Ayase) are childhood friends who have become lovers. Despite this closeness when Atsumi attempts suicide Koichi is at a loss as to what the reason that drove her to do such a thing could be. Now she is in a coma and Koichi needs to find out the reason. Since Koichi is a neurosurgeon he has access to the latest studies and so he takes part in a medical procedure that will allow him to enter Atsumi’s subconscious through her central nervous system.

When he arrives she asks him to find a picture of a plesiosaur she drew as a child. It is the key to a suppressed memory connected to a childhood trauma. Finding this picture will allow Koichi to truly get close to knowing his love.


Road of the Beginning (Literal Title) / Kinoshita Keisuke Story (Working Title)                                                                 

Japanese Title: はじまり の みち    Kinoshita Keisuke Story Film Poster

Romaji: Hajimari no Michi

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 96 mins.

Director: Keiichi Hara

Writer: Keiichi Hara (Screenplay),

Starring: Ryo Kase, Yuko Tanaka, Aoi Miyazaki, Gaku Hamada, Ren Osugi, Mari Hamada, Yusuke Santamaria, Ken Mitsuishi Shigeru Saiki, Itsuki Sagara, Mayu Matsuoka, Shoko Fujimura

This film is made to commemorate the 100th year anniversary of Keisuke Kinoshita’s birth and it follows his early life from his days as a lively youth to his entry into Shochiku movie studio. The trailer is pretty earnest and some of the themes seem to be the loyalty of a son to his mother and the mother’s belief in him. Wipe away the tears and you will see that footage from Kinoshita’s films has been interwoven into the new film. Aoi Miyazaki leading those children along the riverbank  is a clear nod to Twenty-Four Eyes.

Keisuke Kinoshita was a contemporary of Kurosawa, Ozu and Mizoguchi and yet he is Keisuke Kinoshitapretty unknown to a lot of cinephiles in the west. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration because his films Twenty-Four Eyes and The Ballad of Narayama are available in the west and pretty famous but a lot of his other titles are only now getting screened at recent film festivals like Berlin and Venice. To be quite frank his work is unknown to me but from  writing up about him I can see how he is important since a lot of those titles sound different to the films of Ozu, presenting interesting new stories that must have challenged the views of audiences of the time. Wikipedia makes him sound like he has an interesting visual style as well:

He refused to be bound by genre, technique or dogma. He excelled in almost every genre, comedy, tragedy, social dramas, period films. He shot all films on location or in a one-house set. He pursued severe photographic realism with the long take, long-shot method, and he has gone equally far toward stylization with fast cutting, intricate wipes, tilted cameras and even medieval scroll-painting and Kabuki stage technique.

Well the cast involved are suitably skilled with Ryo Kase (Outrage) taking the role of the director, Yuko Tanaka (The Milkwoman) playing his mother. Other actors include Gaku Hamada (Foreign Duck, Potechi), Aoi Miyazaki (The Great Passage), Ken Mitsuishi (Noriko’s Dinner Table), Itsuki Sagara (Goodybye Debussy), Mayu Matsuoka (The Kirishima Thing) and Ren Osugi (Exte).

It is directed and written by Keiichi Hara who has a background in anime and helmed the film Colorful.

Dogs and Cats and Humans Earthquake of Animals 2          Dogs and Cats and Humans Earthquake of Animals 2 Film Poster

Japanese Title: 犬と猫と人間と2 動物たちの大震災

Romaji: Inu to Neko to Ningen to 2 Doubutsu-tachi no Daishinai

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 104 mins.

Director: Daiyu Shishido

Writer: N/A

Starring: N/A

Prepare to cry. This documentary depicts the stories of cats and dogs and their owners who were all affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. We watch the fortunes of a family of stray cats, dog owners who lost their pets during the tsunami, the hardships of farmers and their livestock in the Fukushima area. It’s not all grim though because pets and owners are reunited.

Two Years of Cancer and Yoko Enjoys Life,          Inochi o Tanoshimu Yoko to Gan no 2-nenkan film Poster

Japanese Title: いのち を 楽しむ 容子 戸がん 2 年間

Romaji: Inochi o Tanoshimu Yoko to Gan no 2-nenkan

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 102 mins.

Director: Akira Matsubara, Yumi Sasaki

Writer: N/A

Starring: N/A

Awful translation work again because there’s nothing enjoyable about something like cancer but that does appear to be the title.

Inochi wo Tanoshimu = I enjoy life

Yoko to Gan no 2-nenkan = Yoko and 2 Years of Cancer

The documentary follows Yoko Watanabe who was diagnosed with breast cancer at te age of 40 and died at the age of 58. More specifically it catches the last two years of her life where she went without taking any form of surgery or medication and just had the support of her doctor, family and friends.

Kankin Tantei                         Kankin Tantei Film Poster

Japanese Title: 監禁探偵

Romaji: Kankin Tantei

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 103 mins.

Director: Takuro Oikawa

Writer: Takuro Oikawa (Screenplay), Takemaru Abiko (Manga)

Starring: Takahiro Miura, Natsuna Watanabe, Shoko Tsuda, Masahiro Komoto 

Kankin Tantei = Confinement detective. Confinement and detective work? Sounds sexy. Or problematic. Being confined would be problematic. Not that I would complain if it involved Natsuna Watanabe… Anyway, moving on before I embarrass myself further… Takuro Oikawa, director of suspense thriller Shuffle is on hand to make this locked room mystery come to life. The premise is intriguing and the trailer is promising and it stars two fine young actors in the form of Takahiro Miura (Cold Bloom, Ninja Kids!!!) and Natsuna Watanabe (Gantz).

A woman has been stabbed to death  in an apartment and all clues point to Ryota (Miura). He is suspected to be the killer by Akane (Watanbe) who just happened to be at the murder scene but Ryota claims he is innocent and imprisons her so he can think about what happened and prove his innocence. Definitely the actions of an innocent man! Akane offers to help him.


AKIKO Portrait of a Dancer by AKIKO,                               A Portrait of Akiko Film Poster

Japanese Title: してAKIKO… AKIKO あるダンサーの肖像

Romaji: Shite AKIKO wa… AKIKO ARU DANSA- no Shouzou

Release Date: June 01st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: 120 mins.

Director: Suiko Haneda

Writer: N/A

Starring: Akiko Kanda

Akiko Kanda was a major award winning figure in the modern dance movement in Japan at her death due to cancer at the age of 75 in September 2011. She had a film made about her in 1985 when she was in her 40’s and this is the follow-up made when she was in her 70’s. We see her hospitalised after a dance recital in 2010 and her recovery and attempt at dancing again.

The Garden of Words Anime Film Trailer

The Garden of Words                  Garden of Words Film Poster             

Japanese Title: 言の葉の庭 

Romaji: Kotonoha no Niwa

Release Date: May 31st, 2013 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Writer: Makoto Shinkai

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

Did the end of 5 Centimeters Per Second leave you teary-eyed? Was The Place Promised in Our Early Days emotionally rough? Brace yourself for more sadness fuel as Makoto Shinkai is back!

Anime production company CoMix Wave Films posted the first trailer for acclaimed director Makoto Shinkai’s newest film The Garden of Words (Kotonoha no Niwa) on Wednesday and fan reaction was quick (check out Anime UK News for an interview with Makoto Shinkai where he answsered one of my questions. We love his work over there!).

“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 named Yukino who is 27. 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…

Hmm… Another visually gorgeous film about loneliness then. The trailer is gorgeous and I like the music a lot. Even the theme song by Motohiro Hata (Kids on the Slope). The audio and visuals evokes a feeling of emotional intensity but maybe that’s trace memory in me from Shinkai’s other films… Who are the staff and seiyuu?

Shinkai is famous for his mastery of telling melancholy stories of love and separation and has gained a lot of respect for creating a lot of his early titles almost single-handedly. This one is a little different. We know that it is directed and written by Makoto Shinkai over at CoMix Wave Films and he is aided by Kenichi Tsuchiya who takes charge of character design and animation direction. This looks to be Tsuchiya’s biggest role yet. Art designer Hiroshi Takiguchi is a little more experienced having worked on the background art one the excellent films Mai Mai Miracle and Sword of the Stranger.

Kana Hanazawa takes the female lead as Yukino. She has appeared in a lot of titles I like including Bakemonogatari/Nisemonogatari (Nadeko Sengoku), Occult Academy (Kozue Naruse), Haganai (Kobato Hasegawa) and Psycho-Pass (Akane Tsunemori). The male lead is performed by Miyu Irino who voiced Shin in Shinkai’s last film Children Who Chase Lost Voices, Akira Tsubaki in Mysterious Girlfriend X (yes, I watched that and regretted wasting my time…) and he put in a good performance as Seigen Hayami in Un-Go.

Anyway, the film gets its theatrical release on May 31st and it is getting a manga adaptation courtesy of Midori Motohashi in Kodansha’s Monthly Afternoon magazine starting in April. For a more in-depth look at the trailer, visit Otherwhere!