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.
a stronger than average showing with this now being the 8th SLA
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.
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.
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.
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.