KOTATSU JAPANESE ANIMATION FESTIVAL 2016
Chapter – 24th & 25th September 2016
Box Office: +44 (0)29 2030 4400 email: email@example.com
Aberystwyth Arts Centre – 15th October 2016
Box Office: 01970 62 32 32 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Largest Festival of Japanese Animation in Wales Announces Dates, Locations and Select Confirmed Films for 6th Annual Instalment
The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival returns to Wales for its sixth year. Events kick off in Cardiff at Chapter Arts on September 24th before moving to Aberystwyth. Audiences at each venue will be able to enjoy a programme made up of the latest and very best in anime both mainstream and independent as well as a plethora of cultural activities related to Japan. This year’s line-up of films proves once again that Japan is the home to some of the best animation in the world and Japanese artists continue to make daring and experimental works that go beyond 3D CGI Hollywood movies.
With two venues holding the event there are different programmes available. This one covers Chapter Arts which takes place over two days and features workshops, musical performances and a marketplace.
10:30 AM Miss Hokusai
Japan/2015/90 mins/PG. Dir: Keiichi Hara. With Anne Watanabe, Yutaka Matsushige, Shion Shimizu.
There are several feature films announced so far with Keiichi Hara (Colorful) providing the festival with a strong opening film, Miss Hokusai, an award-winning anime that has featured at many international film festivals. Audiences will be treated to great historical accuracy as they are taken back to 19th Century Japan to get a glimpse of the life of the daughter of Katsushika Hokusai as she trains to be an artist and experiences life in a gorgeously recreated historical setting.
O-Ei is the third daughter of Katsushika Hokusai, the most sought after artist in Japan and the man who would inspire the French Impressionists. O-Ei helps her father with his art and very often she paints instead of him when not making art of her own. This is the untold story of O-Ei, a free-spirited woman overshadowed by her larger-than-life father, who tries to perfect her own art in Edo period Japan, a place which is teeming with peasants, samurai, merchants, nobles, artists, courtesans, and perhaps even supernatural things.
12:50 The Murder Case of Hana & Alice
Japan/2014/110 mins/PG. Dir: Shunji Iwai. With: Yu Aoi, Anne Suzuki, Ryou Kazuji.
The next film is a thoroughly contemporary tale of two girls bonding over the world’s smallest murder case. Newly arrived in small-town suburbia with her divorced mother, school girl Tetsuko Arisugawa (‘Alice’ for short) finds herself the victim of bullying by her classmates and seeks solace through dance. She soon learns of an urban myth about a mysteriously vanished former student called Yuda (Japanese for ‘Judas’) who was allegedly murdered by four of his classmates. Hana, a reclusive girl who lives in a house next door, seems to hold the key to the mystery, and together the pair soon embark on a wild and unpredictable series of suburban escapades.
The Murder Case of Hana and Alice is the prequel movie to the much beloved coming-of-age live-action drama Hana and Alice. Written and directed by Shunji Iwai, one of the most gifted directors working in contemporary Japanese cinema, this animated film was shot with the original actors but with rotoscoping utilised to ensure that movements and looks are fluid and original which makes the comedy and the touching relationship between the two titular girls feel so lifelike and charming.
A children’s workshop run by the artist Asuka Bochenska Tanaka which is dedicated to teaching the art of drawing manga will take place allowing kids the chance to create their own comic books and get closer to the art form they love.
Japanese musician Kina Miyamoto will play a special concert combining a special short film and her piano composition.
18:20 Genius Party
Japan/2007/124 mins/PG/Dir: Shoji Kawamori, Shinichiro Watanabe, Masaaki Yuasa. With: Rinko Kikuchi, Tomoko Kaneda, Yuya Yagira.
Genius Party is a diverse anthology of visually spectacular films from some of the leading names in contemporary Japanese animation like Masaaki Yuasa (Ping-Pong: The Animation, The Tatami Galaxy) and Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo). With multiple talents with strong visions and tales as diverse as a girl who summons a boy to her dimension making her own explode, the existential drama of a salaryman trapped in an endless cycle of work, and a boy who finds a device who can make his own drawings come to life just in time for an alien invasion.
There will be a number of short films from independent and student animators that will showcase the inventiveness and originality that thrive in Japan. Oldman and Youngman, SPOON, I Wanna be Your Friend will be screened around the film Genius Party which is itself an anthology film made up of many shorts from creative talents.
20:50 Psycho-Pass The Movie
Japan/2015/120 mins/15/Dir: Katsuyuki Motohiro, Naoyoshi Shiotani. With: Kana Hanazawa, Ayane Sakura, Tomokazu Seki.
The first day ends with Psycho-Pass the Movie, directed by Katsuyuki Motohiro and Naoyoshi Shiotani and animated by Production I.G. It is the continuation of their massively popular sci-fi tale of a world where people are highly regulated by a computer system which constantly monitors their psychological states. Expect great action and heavy philosophising in the vein of Philip K. Dick in this exciting sci-fi action tale.
The year is 2116 and Japan has become the safest country on the planet due to the Sibyl System, technology which monitors the mental stability of every citizen who is registered. The Japanese government wants to export the Sibyl System throughout the world but terrorists slip into Japan to halt these plans and attack from within. Akane Tsunemori, a leading police officer must stop the violence before it topples the country.
11:00 Anthem of the Heart
Japan/2016/119 mins/PG. Dir: Tatsuyuki Nagai. With: Inori Minase, Kouki Uchiyama, Sora Amamiya.
The second day begins with Anthem of the Heart, a touching drama directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai and written by Mari Okada, two people who specialise in dramas. In this sensitively crafted tale a young girl named Jun must overcome a childhood trauma that has literally locked away her voice and work together with fellow students to make a school play. Things will be difficult since each student has problems of their own but perhaps these difficulties will aid Jun in growing as a person. Audiences get to watch what happens in this movingly told and beautiful-looking film which has charmed many people worldwide.
Jun was once a happy girl but her family broke up after she carelessly uttered some words and she believed she was to blame. After that incident the ‘egg fairy’ appeared in front of her and sealed away her ability to talk in order to stop her from hurting anybody else. Since this traumatic experience, Jun only communicates through e-mail messages on her phone. She has reached the second year of high school like this but things change when Jun is appointed to play the main lead in a musical whose cast all suffer emotional trauma like Jun. Friendship creates bonds and Jun may find her voice again.
The artist Asuka Bochenska Tanaka will run a workshop dedicated to teaching the art of drawing manga to children. This will allow kids the chance to create their own comic books and get closer to one of the art forms they love.
The festival then ends with a one-two punch from two of the sci-fi infused tales of Project Itoh. Empire of Corpses and Harmony form two-thirds of an ambitious triptych of novels that the writer Satoshi Itoh crafted just before his tragic death at the age of 34 due to cancer, something that informed his writing.
Japan/2015/120 mins/12a. Dir: Michael Arias, Takashi Nakamura. With: Miyuki Sawashiro, Akio Ohtsuka, Reina Ueda.
Following a massive nuclear war humanity has rebuilt itself and utopia has finally been achieved thanks to medical nanotechnology and government surveillance but this perfect world of totalitarian kindness and super-medicine has its enemies. Tuan Kirie once tried to commit suicide to escape this new society but now she is a disaffected agent for the World Health Organization trying to escape her doubts through work but she is forced to face her past as she tracks a terrorist who may be a friend who she thought was dead. With deep philosophical themes and gorgeous imagery there is plenty for audiences to analyse and enjoy.
17:45 Empire of Corpses
Japan/2015/120 mins/15/Dir: Ryuotarou Makihara. With Yoshimasa Hosoya, Akio Ohtsuka, Kana Hanazawa.
It is the 19th Century and “corpse reanimation technology” has revolutionised the British Empire but trouble is brewing as foreign empires seek to surpass this science. Brilliant medical student John Watson is recruited by the British government to search for the legendary writings of Victor Frankenstein which allegedly detail the technology behind a more sophisticated reanimated corpse – the original – that could speak and even had free will. Accompanied by Friday, a corpse which records all his activities, Watson will go on a globe-trotting mission, fighting foreign agents for those papers.
Empire of Corpses is a rip-roaring alternate history adventure made up of equal parts horror and action, this is a fine ending to a festival with many different contrasting stories and styles.
Running alongside the film screenings are a series of Japanese-themed events such as a special music performance and a Japanese market place which sells things such as food, model kits, video games and manga. Just before the final film screening the results of the annual raffle will be announced with prizes such as film flyers signed by Michihiko Suwa, the producer of the extremely popular Detective Conan anime series, on offer.
For further information contact: