The Sundays of prior Scotland Loves Anime events are typically slower paced affairs: the competition films have been aired, the jury has deliberated and now it’s time for films and shorts that may not always be premieres, but definitely warrant your attention.
Kicking off the day with the third and final instalment of Kizumonogatari certainly bucks that trend, excluded from competition for being a franchise film but no less visceral for it. Ostensibly Akiyuki Shinbo’s second film in the festival, Jonathan Clements’ introduction shed some light on the “Chief Director” position that many productions now have, effectively big names attached to a project, often without the onerous burden of working on it. Suffice it to say, a lot of the directorial duties may have fallen to Tatsuya Oishi, though you wouldn’t know it once Kizumonogatari Part 3: Reiketsu started. If you’ve made it to this last entry in the film series, you know what you’re getting yourself into: hard colour cuts, circuitous point making and slapstick dismemberments.
Following that and rounding out the festival’s spotlight on the director was a screening of Masaaki Yuasa’s directorial debut, Mind Game, which thanks to All The Anime’s Kickstarter is able to be released on home video in the UK. Being familiar with the director’s other works means watching the genesis of his signature traits was brilliant, but nothing can quite prepare you for the film's art punch. Lurching deliriously from angular, geometric faces to swirling maelstroms of colour is all par for the course for a story that goes to more places, both literal and figurative, than should coherently be possible.
The penultimate film of the day filled another slot in the Madhouse studio focus with Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and due to other circumstances, I unfortunately didn’t manage to see. If memory serves the film has a strange kind of poise to it, mostly thanks to Yoshitaka Amano’s character designs; but being a Madhouse movie means that some usual suspects pop up in the credits, including Masao Maruyama as producer and Yoshiaki Kawajiri as director.
That pair were also on the staff in the final film of the day and the festival, Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis. While perhaps not as lavish as the 1927 original, the production still teems with life and detail between the harsh art-deco lines of the ziggurat to the grungy, rust-coated gratings of Zone 2, even more so when projected from a gorgeously grainy 35mm print of the film. A rarity these days and even more so for anime as festival director Andrew Partridge let us know during his closing remarks prior to the film.
The 2017 festival apparently hadn’t reached the attendance numbers of 2016, buoyed as it was by stand out successes like Your Name and A Silent Voice packed into the schedule, but it had by most accounts been a stronger than average showing with this now being the 8th SLA. So with a thanks to the jury, the cinema staff and everyone for attending, Metropolis started. Echoing those sentiments, as always, many thanks for everyone involved in putting on another sterling festival; it was heartening to see so many people raise their hands for the question of whether you had attended three or more festivals. Always a highlight of the year, now all that’s left is to count the days until the schedule for the 2018 is released.