Starting the second day with the now twenty eight year old anime film Venus Wars is still a little baffling to me. Perhaps there’s a hidden theme hiding somewhere in its staff. Perhaps Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s (Dirty Pair et. al.) designs… Maybe animation director Toshihiro Kawamoto who also worked on Cowboy Bebop… Or maybe it’s like Jonathan Clements mentioned in his opening notes about Joe Hisaishi who went on to score for Studio Ghibli… Whatever the connection with the rest of the festival, the cinema was full and evidently ready for a dose of lovingly animated 80’s science fiction.
Gyo, Tokyo Fish Attack was not the film I thought that would spring to mind while watching Masaaki Yuasa’s Lu Over The Wall. This is a family friendly film after all about a small mermaid who befriends a sullen boy in a sunless town, bringing joy and music to all she meets.
Hinashi (lit. sunless), the setting for the film, has a literal shadow cast over it by an imposing cliff that separates the town’s waters from the bay, populated by mermen and ship wrecks alike. From these waters springs the titular Lu who is attracted by the music that flows from an unlikely trio, one lost in his own malaise, another struggling with the responsibility of inheriting an empire, and another who just wants to go with the flow.
What if? It’s a question that innumerable other films have explored from Sliding Doors to Groundhog Day and now SHAFT have taken their pop at it with Fireworks. A remake of of a 1993 TV film by Shunji Iwai - best known recently for The Murder Case of Hana and Alice - and not to be mistaken for the 1997 Beat Takeshi film, especially so as this film directed by Akiyuki Shinbo.
The setup is that a group of school children including friends Norimichi and Yuusuke argue over the absurd question of whether fireworks are round like a globe or disc shaped. Amidst this is Nazuna, a quiet but beautiful girl that becomes entangled with both Norimichi and Yuusuke over the winner of a swimming race.
Except it’s not even really day one of the Edinburgh part of the festival which started several days before with a packed screening of the English dub of Your Name and followed by the two Resident Evil CG films and an education day. Day one for me then.
Starting with the first film in the Eureka Seven: Hi Evolution reboot series, from the off it was clear this was not a well regarded film. I had expected the cinema to be packed yet a third of the seats remained empty, and during Jonathan Clements opening remarks, the film was described as being “unfortunately” in competition for a judges’ award.
Watching a film with an audience, regardless of how big or small, changes that film from being consumed, to having it performed. Many films, anime or otherwise, stand well on their own but The Night Is Short, So Walk On Girl is likely at its best projected large in front of an audience.
It is raucous and bawdy and funny and peculiar in all the ways you’ve come to expect from a Masaaki Yuasa production, but it has a verve and energy that can only be amplified in front of a crowd. This is, after all, a film about the long, involved, drunken night out of several university students.