It’s the welcome time of year when the wonderful Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival returns to Aberystwyth Arts Centre. This year is particularly special, as the festival now expands to two days of programming at the cinema, offering even more chances to see a diverse range of animated films from Japan, including the latest film from Mamoru Hosoda.
“a serious drama about children and childhood, that neither panders nor patronises the young audience it might be most appealing to”
Starting with a recent classic, Studio Ghibli’s When Marnie Was There, the festival showcases both the gentle side of anime and the action-orientated. When Marnie Was There is a drama of childhood adventure, which follows Anna Sasaki, who has recently moved to a seaside town. There she meets the mysterious Marnie, whose secrets will change her life forever. It’s classic late-era Ghibli, a serious drama about children and childhood, that neither panders nor patronises the young audience it might be most appealing to. It also marks the final film from Studio Ghibli, until Hayao Miyazaki’s recently announced How Do You Live?, set for release in 2020.
This is followed by Lu Over the Wall, the latest hit film from Masaaki Yuasa, director of Mind Game and recent smash series Devilman Crybaby. With shades of Ponyo, Lu Over the Wall concerns a boy’s chance meeting with a girl who’s part-ningyo, a type of mermaid. Rounding up the first day of the festival will be the 2012 sci-fi film Psychic School Wars, based on the 1973 novel, in which the new boy at school turns out to be there to take over the other pupils – and it’s up to Seki, the only one resistant to the psychic powers, to save them.
Day two of the festival starts with Mirai, the brand new film from Mamoru Hosoda, director of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and The Boy and the Beast. The film premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews, and recounts the story of a little boy who meets a teenaged version of his baby sister, and through his adventures with this older version of her, he learns how to live with a sibling.
Following Mirai is the romantic drama Fireworks, and by drastic contrast, Attack on Titan: Roar of Awakening, the film recap version of the second season of the popular sci-fi horror franchise, wherein a group of young survivors must do battle with the giant titans all while discovering new secrets and lies amongst themselves.
Audience members can delve in for a weekend of animation or pick and choose the titles that most appeal to them – the best thing about a festival format. As always there’ll also be the chance to win some exciting raffle prizes, including goods from the creators of beloved character Domo-kun, so anime fans will truly be in for a treat.
Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival
When Marnie Was There (U), Lu Over The Wall (PG), Psychic School Wars (12), Mirai (PG), Fireworks (12A), Attack on Titan: Roar of Awakening (15)