Scotland Loves Anime 2015: Preview
We take a look at some of the highlights of this year's Scotland Loves Anime event, one of the best times of the year for animation fans or those just inclined towards cult-attracting fare from the Far East. There will be monsters
Now in its sixth year, October’s Scotland Loves Anime festival is not just the region’s leading exhibitor of Japanese animation on the big screen (where so much of it begs to be seen, but infrequently is in the UK), but is also now a key time on the film calendar for more offbeat Asian fare of the live-action variety, sandwiched as it is between the big Edinburgh and Glasgow film festivals of June and February. To name one highlight of the last few years, SLA offered the only UK cinema showings of madman maverick Takashi Miike’s Ace Attorney, a bonkers live action adaptation of the popular Phoenix Wright video games. Appropriately enough, given the festival’s widening scope and growing reputation, the 2015 instalment will see it expand beyond its usual homes at Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Filmhouse, with Aberdeen’s Belmont Filmhouse getting its own taste of the animated action.
On the live action front, this year’s SLA boasts the European premiere of a two-part adaptation of one of the hottest Asian imports of late, Attack on Titan (Part 1: GFT, 9 Oct; Filmhouse, 17 Oct; Part 2: dates tbc), as well as the UK premiere of two animated films (Crimson Bow & Arrow, 12 Oct; The Wings of Freedom, 14 Oct; both Filmhouse) based on the property. The wildly popular manga the films are adapted from sees the last remnants of mankind trying to survive, a century on from the emergence of gigantic humanoid creatures that have gone on to devour most of the human race. With four doses of the franchise across the festival, and British anime authority Jonathan Clemens on introduction duty for them, that’s more titans for your buck than you can throw a Sam Worthington at.
Among other highlights based on stuff you may have heard of, even as an anime novice, there’s new films in the Naruto (GFT, 10 Oct; Filmhouse, 16 Oct) and Ghost in the Shell (Filmhouse, 18 Oct) franchises, as well as Dragon Ball Z; Resurrection ‘F’ (GFT, 10 Oct; Filmhouse, 18 Oct), the second new movie in the series after 2013’s Battle of the Gods, which was franchise creator Akira Toriyama’s proper return to his creation after nearly two whole decades. During a limited, single weekend-long theatrical engagement in the US this summer, Resurrection ‘F’ broke records for a Japanese animation on the big screen, out-grossing the total US run of even some Studio Ghibli heavy-hitters. That most of its UK screenings are limited to SLA means a similar feat is probably not going to be achieved here, but this’ll be one of your only chances to see what all the shouty fuss is about.
While familiar characters are to be found for the anime enthusiast elsewhere during the fest, one of the festival’s biggest attractions is the original, critically acclaimed fare it manages to pull, which should appeal to casual animation fans, or just fans of great films in general; in recent years, such original stunners have included the sublime Wolf Children and Giovanni’s Island, as well as Studio Ghibli’s From Up on Poppy Hill. Looking to match them this year is Miss Hokusai (GFT, 10 Oct; Filmhouse, 17 Oct), which technically has its roots on the page in manga form, but doesn’t have an existing moving image take you have to be clued into. Promising a more subtle touch than some of the louder films in the line-up (and no offence intended to those), the praise this portrait of an artist has already accrued worldwide is certainly encouraging, with a review in Variety citing it as “a stellar example of the oft-cited principle that animation is an art form, not a genre.” And if ever there was a single concept an animation-devoted festival would want to get across to audiences, it’s probably that.