The final day of Scotland Loves Anime touched on the entire spectrum of releases with the early 90's classic Ninja Scroll – remastered in high definition but with the original Manga Entertainment English dub – a look into the junior animators of today with the Anime Mirai collection of short films and an already established master at work with Wolf Children: Ame and Yuki (which I mistakenly referred to as the European premiere, the honour of which goes to the BFI screening last week).
Beginning deep into the afternoon with Ninja Scroll, the introduction by Jonathan Clements covered the film's context, namely as an homage to the ninja novels of Futaro Yamada which were written in the 50's and 60's when any mention of samurai or imperialism in a post-war Japan was forbidden, hence ninja. Madhouse decided that the novels relied too heavily and prior knowledge of Japanese lore and set out to create a film that invoked but wasn't at the behest of history. This was Ninja Scroll, somewhat ironically popular almost everywhere except Japan.
The fifth day of Scotland Loves Anime held such delights as the European premiere of the second Berserk movie: Battle for Doldrey, the international premiere (that's even before general release in Japan) of Nerawareta Gakuen as well as a repeat of last week's European premiere of Blood-C: The Last Dark.
The Berserk movie was once again graced by guests Naoyuki Onda and Fuko Noda who provided a brief Q&A session after the film which, despite a persistent issue with the synchronisation of the subtitles with the audio, was everything a Berserk film needed to be. Cleaving closely to the story set out by the manga but making some smart decisions on what to include and what to omit for a feature-length production.
It's fitting that in his introduction at the world premiere of Nerawareta Gakuen (literally: School In Peril, official: Psychic School Wars), Jonathan Clements mentioned that whenever The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is remade, so too is Nerawareta Gakuen. It's easy to see why: it has the same overall genre of a campus love comedy with strands of science fiction bubbling beneath it that makes the stories so endearing. Here though the time travel is a little woolier, the story a little more meandering and the visuals a whole lot more colourful.
skirts and stained glass windows, sunsets and sad songs
Were you to take the skies of a Makoto Shinkai work and push them through a high-powered kaleidoscope, you would be some of the way towards imagining how colourful and visually arresting the entire production is. This is not to say it is universally beautiful, although there is sublime artistry in every scene, but the lack of restraint is at times wearisome, dulling the eyes. What could be better than a classroom bathed in the evening sun? One with stained glass windows! And bubbles! All lovingly rendered and fully animated.
Blood-C had a an inauspicious start. Schoolgirl, dark secret, monster of the week, yada-yada. The Blood franchise itself has never been overly inspiring with the original movie a notable exception but the subsequent fifty episode TV series (Blood+) and various multimedia spin-offs remained largely forgettable. It seemed that even with CLAMP's golden touch on character designs and story could not save Blood-C from malignment or misunderstandings.
The Last Dark has its work cut out for it then: try and sate the thin end of the wedge of those who grew to like the series, or try and attract an audience that might not otherwise entertain the franchise any more. For a while at least, the movie seems to satisfy both.
Starting off the second, Edinburgh, weekend of Scotland Loves Anime were two repeats from the Glasgow weekend. The first, After School Midnighters, followed shortly afterwards by Berserk: Egg of the King (official translation: Egg of the Supreme Ruler). The most exciting feature of the latter was the presence of character designer and chief animation director Naoyuki Onda as well as one of the producers, Fuko Noda.
The evening begun with an introduction by the festival organiser Andrew Partridge who took a quick show of hands as to who was new to the now yearly SLA event, to which about a third of the cinema raised their hands. Jonathan Clements then followed up, introducing After School Midnighters and largely covering what had been said in Glasgow last weekend: created by T-Joy who own entertainment complexes across Asia and are funding films largely to fill these complexes; the director Hitoshi Takekiyo originally created a five minute short which was without dialogue and involved inanimate objects coming to life – namely Dracula, a ninja, Jesus Christ and an anatomical model – the latter of which makes it into the movie.