In contrast to the earlier showing of Summer Wars, the Cowboy Bebop movie was evidently from a traditional film reel rather than high-definition digital – grain and all it seemed somewhat more fitting, especially when the film itself pokes fun at the low quality, black and white westerns of old. Without any fanfare, there was a brief introduction by Andrew Partridge, one of the festival organisers, and then after a brief wait, straight into the feature. The only other element of note was the translation which unfortunately seemed a little slapdash, continually calling “Ed” “Edo” for instance, or completely ignoring the on-screen descriptions of companies such as “Tortoise Cleaning”.
Following up the critically acclaimed and astoundingly brilliant The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was never going to be an easy prospect but with a timbre shift sure to cement Mamoru Hosoda's role as a world-class director, Summer Wars proves to be a worthy successor both creatively and aesthetically. Taking the fluidity Madhouse gifted his previous film with, the animation is dialled up until innumerable characters are all raucously moving at once - breathing, laughing, talking and living on screen. Pomp and flair help avoid the stereotypes that so often go with virtual-world stories and though it still degenerates into a touch typing marathon, the excitable charm it displays throughout elevates it from the standard, tepid blockbuster fare.
Kenji is asked by one of the prettiest girls in school, Natsuki, to help with a summer job; unbeknownst to him however is that her grandmother is soon to be turning ninety and Natsuki has told her family about a fictional fiancé that he must now assume the role of. Travelling out into the countryside around Ueda, he is introduced to the bustling, varied personalities of Natsuki's extended family and the palatial house and grounds that have belonged to the Shinohara clan for generations. In the virtual world of OZ however, a malevolent entity is wreaking untold havoc - shutting down vital utilities and gobbling up user accounts with nobody able to stop it. Inconvenience is only the start when it transpires the entity has a close link with the Shinoharas and it may only be Kenji, Natsuki and other members of the family who can stop real world devastation from occurring.
Photo by xahldera and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0
Taking place in Glasgow in the week leading up to the Glasgow Film Festival, the premiere was preceded by the airing of the first movie in the Rebuild series: Evangelion 1.0. Bookended by an informative talk by Emily Fussell of the BBFC, and an introduction by the effusive Jonathan Clements. Kicking off a series of animated shenanigans dubbed "Scotland Loves Animation" and succeeding the Scottish anime convention "Auchinawa", Scotland and Glasgow in particular is becoming one of the prime places to catch anime and Japanese goings on.
Beginning shortly before half three in the afternoon, tickets had been purchased online for the double bill and sold out in short order. The line for entering the cinema stretched out of the building and it was immediately obvious by the dress of the patrons what they were queuing for. After a short wait and filing into the surprisingly spacious cinema one of the Glasgow Film Theatre, the proceedings were kicked off by Emily Fussell, a media classifier for the BBFC, with a talk focusing on the tribulations in classifying anime for release in the UK.
Five Centimetres Per Second
On first watching Five Centimetres Per Second, the overbearing sadness of Takaki's journey from lovestruck adolescent to downtrodden adult is depressing; the piano music that follows him through the three stories of the film is a heartbeat of yearning for times gone by. Subsequent viewings but build upon this and more than before, the wistful smile in closing moments means more than the emotionally infused montage that preceded it. Makoto Shinkai manages to evoke emotions that are difficult to grasp but more than being a straightforward story, the feeling one leaves the film with is a reflection of themselves more than what the movie has shown.
Split over three sequential stories, they follow Takaki Tohno from his time in elementary school through to adulthood and his relationship with the reticent Akari Shinohara which forms the core narrative of the film. The first story, The Chosen Cherry Blossoms, describes their lives: both constantly moving schools due to their parents, weak bodied but strong minded and inexorably smitten with each other. When Akari moves away, Takaki plans a journey to see her after a series of letters; unfortunately, due in part to the inclement weather, the trip is beset with problems. The second story, Cosmonaut, takes place when Takaki is a teenager and he has once again moved school. The focus is on an otherwise unrelated girl, Kanae Sumida who is infatuated with Takaki but is unable to express her own feelings, not helped by his introverted and sullen nature. The third story, Five Centimetres Per Second, follows Takaki as a young man, now working but unhappy with his situation, not helped by his standoffish relationship with a young woman from his workplace; that is until a fleeting encounter during cherry blossom season with a woman who bears a stark resemblance to Akari.
Ten years of anime. Somewhat fitting to pick the ten shows that personally rank as the best. This is a case of comparing apples to oranges, but some releases transcend their genre and, most of all, this is opinion rather than edict. One cannot of course have seen all that is released within the decade, some will slip through the cracks or just be ignored due to indifference, cynicism or underappreciation.
In the lead up to the new decade a ten article series, in descending numerical order and ranked wholly arbitrarily, will be posted at 20:00 GMT (15:00 EST, 12:00 PST) every day, culminating in the pick of the decade on the 31st December 2009.
Below is a short list harvested from the brilliant AniDB which, if you tweak the search settings correctly, you can peruse as well. To make the list the series, movie or OVA must have been released or started on or after January 1st 2000 and must have completed by 31st December 2009. This is why series such as Bleach and Book of Bantorra are not present.