Anime Mirai literally means “Future Anime”. The idea of this project is simple: to offer the opportunity to train new talent on the job, as they work on one of four short films that are collected and released as “Anime Mirai”. The Anime Mirai project has a 38 million yen budget (approximately £294,000) provided by the Japan Animation Creators Association (JaniCA), which is split between the four shorts. The screening we attended at Scotland Loves Anime was the project’s 2012 edition, its second run.
The first short was Hiroshi Kawamata’s ‘Juju the Weightless Dugong’, which tells the story of an imaginative girl whose father constantly has to work on weekends, postponing their trip to the sea. The animation is simple and colourful, the plot is straightforward, yet well rounded and elegantly executed, but the icing on this cake is the characterisation, which is smoothly done and manages to make you care about the characters in such a short time. 7 out of 10.
The second short was Shinpei Miyashita’s ‘Pretending not to see’, which is the story of a schoolboy who witnesses a classmate being bullied out of school and learns that pretending not to see is as bad as the bullying itself. The art style of this one is unique, although I must admit it wasn’t impressive and it even felt a little oppressive which, considering the theme, might have been an artistic decision. 6 out of 10.
It was followed by Toshihisa Kaiya’s ‘Li’l Spider Girl’ which is the short with the best art in the whole series, especially the fight sequence at the beginning. The plot follows an antiquarian who breaks the seal of the titular Spider Girl, who seems to be the sweetest thing in the world, except that the price to keep her may be a little high. Overall, this is the piece with the best art and some mean fight scene animation at the beginning. The end of the short reserves a ‘WTF’ moment, which some people actually did say out loud as we watched it in the cinema. 7 out of 10.
And to complete the series, we watched Kazuhide Tomonaga’s ‘Buta’. Buta is a broke rounin, who accepts a job to pay for his tavern bill, only to find himself dragged off to a pirate ship where a fox kid is being held prisoner and the captain is looking for treasure from a map he stole from the kid. Buta is then tricked into helping the kid escape and that’s how the adventure begins. Buta is also the most ambitious of the lot, as it ends with a ‘To be continued…’ The animation is reminiscent of Ghibli, particularly of Porco Rosso and Pom Poko. The character designs are well varied and although childish and simple, the plot of Buta is a lot of fun, making this my favourite of this series of shorts. 8 out of 10.
Recommended age rating: Not rated – Recommended U