I always end up thinking “Anime” instead of “Animation” but then I just noticed this K-ON poster is written the same too! I guess “Anime” does mean animation in French but I still prefer it means Japanese animation when used in English.
So this year’s Scotland Loves Animation 2012, the movies were…
Glasgow Film Theatre
I decided to go see “Nerawareta Gakuen (AKA NeraGaku, Psychic Academy)” knowing little about it other than the students are trying to fend their school from invasion. The art also looked quite good. This is based on a 1971 novel which has been remade into different medias just like “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time“. First time I dropped by Edinburgh Film House. Very busy and quite modern compared to GFT but, I think I prefer GFT’s art deco hallway more. It’s also not as busy ^^;
Interestingly enough, tickets for NeraGaku sold out two days before the screening and so did Wolf Children not long afterwards. Shows how much more exposure Anime is getting these days thanks to affordable broadband internet. Oh, I still remember the video tape and 56kbps days… But anyway.
This movie doesn’t screen until November 11th in Japan so just like the Momo’s Letter movie, the West gets the premiere first… That said, I enjoyed the Momo movie more.
So a mysterious good looking transfer student, Ryoichi Kyogoku arrives in Kamakura. He possesses the power of telepathy and using it, he starts to take over the school and everyone starts to act differently. Only Kenji Seki isn’t affected and the “battle” begins to take the school back.
The movie begins with the school banning mobile phones and students not being too happy about it. They won’t be able to use Twitter or check their e-mail/SMS after all. Idea about the ban is they’re a distraction in class of course and really isn’t a necessity although people feel uncomfortable without one because of loneliness. This works out as a great opportunity for Ryoichi who is trying to awaken as many people with psychic powers as he can so that they can read each other’s mind and avoid the war that destroys earth in the future, forcing them move to the moon.
This is probably the second Anime (after Blackrock Shooter) where I heard Supercell, the “singing” Vocaloid software being used to produce the theme song “Giniro Hikousen”. Voice synthesis has come such a long way it almost sounds natural. And for you AKB48 fans out there, this is where Mayu Watanabe continues her voice acting career as Kenji’s childhood friend, Natsuki.
I think it’s a “chick flick” because the pacing is very slow and spends most of the time focusing on the love relationship between the characters. Everything else was very cliched – jokes you’ve seen plenty of times in Anime (and male/female fan service). It picks up very late into the movie. Trying to mix psychic powers and time travel just doesn’t work… One is more a supernatural theme while the other is science fiction. I hardly knew what was going on most of the time. The other thing was the art Sunrise Studio 8 (Kyokaisen Horizon, Accel World) used too much lens glare effect which ruined a lot of the beautiful artwork which could have made up for it a bit. Lens flare can create some nice dramatic effects but they seemed to use it everywhere here.
There is an extra scene after the credits so don’t miss it if you like happy endings… And Pokemon.
Interestingly enough, if Wikipedia is anything to go by, it’s quite different from the original. The novel actually centres around Kenji’s grandfather, Kouji Seki who also appears in the Anime – as a cameo I assume. A girl Michiru takes over the Student Council and changes the way the school works – which happens half way through the movie but… In the novel, Kouji and friends go to cramming classes to train their psychic powers before confronting Kyogoku who, should be the father of the Ryouji that appears by time travel in the Anime.
In a way, you could say this is more of a sequel. Kouji does ask Kyogoku to tell his father to give up trying to take over the past. You also didn’t have mobile phones and Twitter back then which was why the whole setting has moved onto the next generation for this remake.
In the end, it’s a horribly directed movie that doesn’t follow. You’re not going to miss out not watching this.
Wolf Children: Ame and Yuki
From the producer of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2010) and Summer Wars, Ōkami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki is, as the title suggests, about children who are half human and shows the difficulty and perseverance their human mother Hana has raising them. Quite touching if you like watching kids run around and going on to face their problems such as seeing the doctor or vet, raising them as wolves or human, how to conceal their identity.
Premiered in Japan in July 21st. Interestingly enough, Jonathan Clements mentioned the date on the guy’s license happened to coincide with the tsunami in March 11th but wasn’t done on purpose. It so happens that Japan’s driving licenses expire a month after your birthday – unlike the UK where it’s always 10 years after renewal. The idea of calling the children “Yuki (Snow)” and “Ame (Rain)” is that they’re both made of water but you see how they change through time.
Instead of wasting screen time setting up the whole atmosphere, the movie dives straight into showing the relationship between Hana and Ookami in university (where Ookami was just sneaking in), fairly swiftly moving onto the bringing up of the children. Then see how they part ways deciding whether to be human or wolf. It kind of reminds me of Ghibli’s Totoro when the children moves into the rural countryside and also Summer Wars where all the villagers come together to help Her out. It’s dramatic in a way but at the same time not quite… The directing is delivered in a very calm, steady pace so there aren’t many surprises. It prepares you well beforehand.
Art wise, I think it’s the same as previous works. Supposedly the movie was produced in 3D before 2D was added in – I’m presuming the 2D characters. The projection was flickering pretty badly but eyes adjusted after a while. If I was sitting further away it might have looked better.
Comments – Spoilers! Highlight to view.
Quite awkward when they showed a wolf in bed with Hana although a lot of people were laughing. I don’t think I felt anything when his body (in wolf form) is found in a river and she helplessly watches it being thrown and crushed in the garbage truck. Maybe because the scenes of their relationship was too short or it was an animal being shown…
The part where Yuki realised she was like a tomboy at school was understandable but the tough part was when she felt cornered and bared her claws (literally). On the other hand, it was obvious the moment you saw grown up Ame that he would reside in the forest like his father. I guess that’s why he’s “rain”, constantly moving whereas “snow” lies dormant.
Although all three movies by Mamoru Hosoda are on different premises, I still enjoyed TokiKake most so far. Maybe because I prefer sci-fi stories.