I’m off to the Edinburgh leg of the annual Scotland Loves Anime this week and the festival is important enough to me to drag me out of my self-imposed writing moratorium. So a look back as to why, and some thoughts on the significance of the festival as a whole.
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.
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.
The brief question and answer session after the screening of the K-On movie yesterday was preceded by the announcement that a further, dedicated event would take place the next day. Free but ticketed, it was an unmissable opportunity to get an insight into what K-On was like to develop as well as working for one of the premier animation studios, Kyoto Animation.
Starting off with a message from Andrew Partridge, the festival organiser, that there should be no recording of any kind: video, audio or photographic. This reinforced yesterdays message passed down from the production company and with news that it would be enforced this time around, the message was loud and clear. (This means except for authorised stills if they are ever released, no photos on this post)
The final day of the Scotland Loves Animation festival started off with the first Tiger and Bunny movie at half past noon, however a special ticketed question and answer session with the K-On director, Naoko Yamada, had been organised for 1pm. It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up so I'm entirely unaware as to how Tiger and Bunny: The Beginning turned out.
For the session itself, due to the size and detail there's a full post on an intriguing insight into Kyoto Animation, anime in general and Naoko's working life.
The second event of the day was not a single film at all, but four shorts under the Anime Mirai (Anime Future) banner. From up-and-coming animators and as a show-reel for animation studios, the Anime Mirai project was started in 2010 and sees money from the Japanese government distributed to companies in order to train the next generation of young animators.