By Jeremy Clarke.
Teenage romance, parallel worlds and dysfunctional families are the main ingredients of The Relative Worlds, Yuhei Sakuragi’s uneasy cross between a mawkish teenage romance boy and a sci-fi action picture in the James Cameron mould. The romantic, emotional parts are gentle and almost hesitant. The science fiction, fantasy and action parts are fast, full on and frantic – and indeed in places quite hard to keep up with. The dysfunctional families are more a background plot device than anything else. That said, if you’re prepared to get on its wavelength (or wavelengths, plural) it’s an enjoyable enough romp, with action that looks great on a big screen. Continue Reading
By Andy Hanley.
Reimagining a TV anime series – particularly one that’s well over a decade old – as a series of new films can be a tricky business. Do you retool the story and its depiction to cater to a new generation of fans? Or do you staunchly give the existing fans of the franchise everything that they want, at the risk of alienating new viewers? Or perhaps you do both and run the risk of pleasing nobody at all.
This dilemma is very much at the forefront of Eureka Seven’s journey to the big screen. Having found television success in the mid-2000s, which was followed by an all-new theatrical outing and TV spin-off series that failed to recapture that initial magic, it was back to the cinema director Tomoki Kyoda went for a new trilogy of movies. Subtitled “Hi-Evolution”, its title serves as an acknowledgment of a desire to evolve its already all-encompassing tale of love and growing up in the face of a cataclysmic climate disaster in new directions. Continue Reading
By Shelley Pallis.
Hinako has moved to Chiba to pursue her studies as an oceanographer – she just loves the sea, unaware that Minato and Wasabi on the shoreline have been watching her early morning surfing ventures with wide-eyed amazement. Both of them are trainee firemen, but its Minato who gets the chance to play hero when Hinako’s building catches fire.
The fire-fighter’s life in Japan was largely overlooked in anime ever since Susumu Nishizawa’s forgotten Firefighter Daigo (1999) – that is, until recent months saw Fire Force, Promare (also screening at Scotland Loves Anime), and Ride Your Wave. Here, director Masaaki Yuasa zooms in not only on the logistics and technology of Japanese firemen, but of the intimate relationship they have with water, something which makes the two would-be lovers unexpectedly kindred spirits. It’s water that wins out in the end, with the fire-fighting subplot swiftly side-lined in favour of Hinako and Minato’s burgeoning romance, as she teaches him how to surf, and he repays her by gamely mansplaining about coffee and fried eggs. Continue Reading
By Jonathan Clements.
It is difficult to overstate the impact of the author Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933) on Japanese literature, and anime. He was still in his thirties when he died, a largely unknown poet living in provincial obscurity, and only really read outside local newspapers after the publication of a Complete Works a decade later. In the post-war period, which saw most of the Japanese school curriculum bleached and purged of any authors with wartime associations, Miyazawa’s gentle, pastoral tales, suffused with Buddhist imagery, swiftly took root, becoming the set books of an entire generation of schoolchildren.
Their impact can be felt even as far away as Scotland, where the last ten years at Scotland Loves Anime have seen many allusions to Miyazawa’s work. His allegory of death and the afterlife, Night on the Galactic Railroad, was excerpted in fantasy sequences in the 2014 award-winner Giovanni’s Island, and was plainly a huge influence on Keiichi Hara’s Colorful. Moreover, Miyazawa’s loving depictions of his beloved homeland in Iwate prefecture, all mist-clad mountain forests and wind-blown cliff-tops, would become a major influence on the work of Sachiko Kawashiba, whose Birthday Wonderland is also playing at this year’s festival. Continue Reading
By Andrew Osmond
One of the century’s great philosophers sang that everything you know is wrong, black is white, up is down and short is long. Patema Inverted, by director Yasuhiro Yoshiura, confines itself to Weird Al’s middle axiom, that up is down. The heroine Patema begins in an underground world, falling ‘down’ a chasm to the surface. Once there, she must hang on desperately to anything she can, or plunge into the clouds beneath. A surface dweller appears, and the picture rotates one-eighty degrees to show what he sees; an upside down girl, being yanked up into the sky. “Don’t fall!” she shrieks at him. “Fall where?” he asks reasonably.
It’s a wonderfully fresh starting point for a film, though of course there are precedents. Gravity reminded us there’s no up and down in space. In fantasy cinema, David Bowie strode around an Escheresque castle in Labyrinth (an idea extended in the third Night at the Museum), while Paris rolled up on itself in Inception. A much closer film to Patema was Upside Down. Made around the same time as the anime, this was a French-Canadian live-action film whose leads, played by Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess, are kept apart by competing gravities.
It was close enough to give Yoshiura the heebie-jeebies. “When I was making Patema Inverted, the producer came to me and said there’s a film with the same concept, which was a shock!’ Yoshiura told me. ‘I looked at the poster, then I put it away… I haven’t seen the trailer because I didn’t want to be influenced.” Luckily for Yoshiura, Upside Down was a squib, getting poor reviews and scant distribution.