One More 'Toon: Scotland Loves Anime 2023 preview

Annual celebration of Japanese animation Scotland Loves Anime returns with a diverse programme offering something for everyone

Feature by Zoe Crombie | 27 Oct 2023
  • Scotland Loves Anime

Anime fans are once again in for a treat, with Scotland Loves Anime returning this month. A celebration of Japanese animation, the festival runs at Glasgow Film Theatre from 2 to 5 November before moving to Edinburgh’s Cameo, where it runs from 6 to 12 November. It’s an event made for anime fans by anime fans, with some of the most knowledgeable anime experts in the UK playing a role in bringing together the festival’s wide-ranging programme.

Plenty of new anime films that made their Japanese debut earlier this year are arriving on the western scene via Scotland Loves Anime, with some making their UK or European debuts. It's a diverse selection. A highlight of these brand-new works looks to be Yuzuru Tachikawa’s Blue Giant (4 Nov, GFT; 11 Nov, Cameo), a coming-of-age tale that follows a jazz saxophonist determined to be the very best. There's also Gold Kingdom and Water Kingdom (5 Nov, GFT; 10 Nov, Cameo), the long-awaited adaptation of the epic romance manga, which should be perfect for viewers who enjoyed Makoto Shinkai’s Suzume from earlier this year. And whisky fans should get a kick out of Komada – A Whisky Family (4 Nov, GFT; 11 Nov, Cameo), a heartfelt ode to the traditions of making the golden spirit, grounded in processes passed down between generations. In short, there’s truly something for everyone here.

Two of the festival’s quirkiest titles are The Concierge (5 Nov, GFT; 11 Nov, Cameo), a vibrant offering from Ghibli animator Yoshimi Itazu about a department store catering to the consumer tastes of animals, and Lonely Castle in the Mirror (4 Nov, GFT; 11 Nov, Cameo), a fairytale mystery blending western folklore with Japanese imagery about a castle and a terrifying wolf. These are the kinds of spectacularly unusual stories that you only see in the form of Japanese animation, and having the rare chance to celebrate them on the big screen in Scotland each year with like-minded people is a fantastic opportunity.

The lineup isn’t just brand-new releases, either. Scotland Loves Anime are giving audiences plenty of chances to catch some true classics, whether you’re watching them for the first time or taking the chance to see them on the big screen where their meticulous visuals belong. Two noughties gems are having a deserved moment in the sun: Mamoru Oshii’s violent techno-thriller Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (6 Nov, GFT; 9 Nov, Cameo) and Satoshi Kon’s visually formidable fever dream Paprika (7 Nov, Cameo). Slightly less intense are Rintarou’s Galaxy Express 999 and Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis, but both are big on the kinds of 20th-century anime visuals fans have come to love. Tezuka mega fans have an extra reason to celebrate, as Scotland Loves Anime are showing the new Phoenix: Reminiscence of Flower (5 Nov, GFT; 12 Nov, Cameo) – like Metropolis, it's based on one of the classic comics from the 'Godfather of Manga'. There’s also a major movie in the programme celebrating its birthday: Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (8 Nov, Cameo), which turns 25 this year, and is well worth a watch on the big screen for fans of the show.

Looking for something more off the wall and unexpected? Two transnational treats are likely to appeal: Michael Arias’ Tekkonkinkreet (10 Nov, Cameo) is a bizarre, aesthetically unorthodox adventure from Studio 4°C, the company behind Masaaki Yuasa’s explosive Mind Game among many others. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a familiar world given the anime treatment, The Animatrix (2 Nov, GFT; 12 Nov, Cameo) is a beloved anthology that gathered some of anime’s most prodigious talents to take on the universe of the Wachowskis' The Matrix. If you've never seen The Matrix, though, fear not; The Animatrix can be appreciated without knowing the ins and outs of Neo and friends.

Many of these screenings are accompanied by an introduction from Dr Jonathan Clements, a bona fide expert on the cultural phenomenon of anime, who has written numerous books on the topic, including the essential Anime: A History. Even if you’re an enthusiastic anime viewer and know your Otomo from your Oshii, these talks are sure to give you some food for thought on the films you’re about to see, as well as some new facts you may not have known about the background of the movies and their creators.

As the UK’s largest and oldest anime festival, Scotland Loves Anime is the best place to catch new releases and beloved classics alike, and the programming remains as idiosyncratic and imaginative as ever in this 2023 edition. 

Scotland Love Anime, Glasgow Film Theatre, 2-5 Nov; Cameo Cinema, Edinburgh, 6-12 Nov; full programme at