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.
Going on, Jonathan mentioned some of the director's, Yoshiaki Kawajiri's, influences which include Mission Impossible explaining some of the anachronistic speech. Created in the twilight of animation on cels, one of Yoshiaki's signature styles involves a stillness followed by a sudden burst of action. This was, Jonathan explained, inspired by work done by Chuck Jones for the animation Rikki-Tikki-Tavi during research for which, a snake unexpectedly leapt at the camera covering an impressive eight feet in two frames of film.
Another interesting point with regards the animation was that of so called “transmitted light”, when a backlight is allowed to shine through the cell, most commonly used for jet engines or the glowing eyes of a robot; in Ninja Scroll however it is used for the entire sky of some scenes creating an oppressive and unyielding atmosphere.
This was the first time I had seen the film all the way through, having caught varying snippets of it on television over the years. Seen through a modern lens, the film is obnoxiously misogynistic, perhaps accurate for the indistinct historical time period, but if it weren't for the hilariously deadpan voice acting and cavalier attitude to... everything, this would be an awkward watch. The scattershot audience seemed to enjoy it though, whether out of nostalgia or otherwise is impossible to say.
Shortly following Ninja Scroll was the Anime Mirai (Anime Future) collection of short films which sported an almost identical introduction as its showing in Glasgow, with the added tidbit that the shorts had been specifically subtitled for SLA – an achievement in itself. As for the film's reception, once again the Production I.G. short L'il Spider Girl stole the show with some letting out an audible gasp at the twist.
The finale of the day and of the festival was Mamoru Hosoda's Wolf Children: Ame and Yuki which saw Jonathan's last introduction for time being. Mentioning Mamoru Hosoda getting back the “dream team” of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time including his screenwriting co-conspirator Satoko Okudera, character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto as well as many more. Like Summer Wars which was inspired by Mamoru's experience being an only child thrust into the extended family of his fiancée, Wolf Children comes from his experience of many of his friends becoming pregnant all around the same time. Dealing with themes such as nature versus nurture as well as acceptance of within a community and of oneself, Jonathan left with a brief namedrop of this blog (a completely unexpected experience I now wish I hadn't been tipsy for, I sincerely hope I didn't act like a lout) and let festival organiser, Andrew Partridge, take the stage. Thanking all the staff of the Edinburgh Filmhouse including the ushers and projectionist as well as numerous other people who had made the Scotland Loves Anime festival such a success, all that was left was for him to thank us for coming, to look forward to next year's festival and to enjoy the film.
Clocking in at a meaty two hours, the film seemed to be praised by almost everyone who saw it and it marked a sublime end to what has been a superb two weekends (and a bit more) of modern, quirky but always enthralling anime. A huge thanks to everyone who made this possible including the organisers, guests and everyone in between, long may SLA continue!