The BFI has been a beacon of joy for the past month and a half for many anime fans. Not only has the Southbank cinema delivered two months of numerous screenings of Studio Ghibli’s vast library, but also, whilst Studio Ghibli season is ongoing, it’s bi-yearly Anime Weekend. It ran from 16th to 18th May, boasting three UK premieres, as well as blockbuster films connected with several popular franchises that have made many anime fans today, from One Piece to Evangelion.
Reevo and I once again attended the BFI Anime Weekend, and we happily present to you our thoughts on five films that were screened over the weekend.
Patema lives as part of an underground community and has done so for her entire life. The people are mostly upbeat despite the huge challenges of life below the surface but Patema is desperate for more. Using a torch for light, she wanders the endless dark tunnels and dreams about a life outside and above. When she visits an area that is clearly off-limits she finds a way of accessing a new world, and thus begins an adventure of lost secrets and discovery.
Darkstorm says: Patema Inverted was the perfect film to start off the weekend; it was full of energy and wonder that had the audience fully engrossed from the start. Its opening has a few things in common with Ghibli’s Nausicaa, with the lead female wanting to explore more beyond her world, her gas mask outfit looking very familiar, and regarded as a princess among her small tribe. But it’s when she first encounters Age, the boy who lives on the surface world, that the film dives deep into its unique premise of altering gravity and revels in it.
The sci-fi aspect of Patema Inverted is full to the brim with imagination, there are some fantastic set pieces with clever uses of the camera used to fantastic effect, alternating between the characters’ point of view to build tension, depending on which character was in the greater danger, and it really brought the audience into the messed up gravity world. Though the spectacle was fun to watch, there wasn’t as much depth behind it all. It’s best not to think too much about the science behind the change of gravity as it makes the movie fall apart a bit, and there are numerous occasions where themes or settings are introduced and then dropped when the film felt like it.
The main characters don’t have much personality outside of being cheerful and wanting more out of life, nor do they really have a character arc, but their energy, and the way they bounce off each other whilst tackling gravity, carry the film. They, as well as a handful of side characters, bring out numerous funny moments in the film, however the villain is so bluntly evil and cartoony that he is more of a distraction and wouldn’t be out of place in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Overall the film is a lot of fun, brimming with infectious energy.
Patema Inverted has been licensed by Anime Limited; no release date has been confirmed at the time of writing but you can contribute to the kickstarter project here.
Rebuild of Evangelion 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo
It’s 14 years after the Near Third Impact and the Earth is in turmoil. Shinji hasn’t aged during this time and he appears to be a focus of universal hatred. At NERV headquarters, it becomes clear that not everything is as it seems, and with Shinji rocketing towards emotional turmoil mankind may end up paying the ultimate price.
Darkstorm says: My friend Katy and I saw the first two Evangelion films back at the BFI Anime Weekend four years ago. Back to back, in a huge cinema, packed with fans. It was a fantastic experience for the both of us and we were so excited to head back to the BFI for 3.0. This time turned out to be the same, but a lot more emotionally draining. The film is just as visually disturbing and extraordinary as The End of Evangelion, but there’s a lot more going on outside the gorgeous animation and the years of waiting have not been for nought.
Unlike the first two films, which were drawn from the very familiar territory of the television series, 3.0 is in a completely foreign area. The time jump takes the story into a bold new direction, which understandably raises a lot of questions that sadly are not answered. The new settings such as Misato’s flying ship are given names but no context behind them, the freeze in ages for the children is hastily tossed in and never explained, half the original cast have disappeared, and even the characters that have aged in front of us are mostly relegated to props for the battle scenes (which are admittedly spectacular). It would have helped the narrative and the audience if more time was dedicated at the start to explain the new world, but instead it opens harshly with Asuka recovering Shinji in a visually impressive but confusing scene.
The main focus is on Shinji; his thoughts and feelings about the time jump, and the consequences of his actions from the previous movie. His mental state is stretched to the limit here, but unlike the TV series where his inactivity and depressive state led to fans hating him, his emotions in this film are much more warranted. In this new universe he’s been an active character, trying to save Rei and pilot the Eva but all it’s done is make things worse. And despite hitting rock bottom he STILL has the strength to try and make things right again. His familiar lines of ‘never wanting to pilot the Eva again’ have a lot more emotional depth now. His relationship with Kaworu is also given more layers and screen time, much to the joy of fans. He has some fantastic lines here that do call back to the TV series and provide a small level of comfort to those who may feel unhappy being in a completely new story. Rei plays a part in the grand finale too but it’s Shinji and Kaworu that carry the film, and although you know that it’ll come to a bloody end, it’s still heartbreaking to watch it unfold.
Evangelion 3.0 is a flawed but fiercely executed film, it stays with you long after watching, and will warrant many replays once it’s out on DVD.
Evangelion 3.0 will be released by Manga UK on Monday 25th August 2014.
Garden of Words
Makoto Shinkai’s latest film is another cinematic delight; a chance encounter, a forbidden relationship and a beautiful setting. Set in the Kanto region of Japan against the backdrop of the rainy season, we follow young Akizuki who skips school to sit in a public garden and sketch. Over time, he befriends Yuki, an enigmatic, older woman who also seeks the park’s sanctuary, and an unusual relationship begins.
Darkstorm says: The first thing that strikes you is the animation; it’s beyond stunning. In the Anime News Network interview, provided as reading material when entering the cinema, the director says he had wanted to animate modern Tokyo, detailing the daily beautiful scenery, and you can see it. Every shot is wonderfully drawn, and the water imagery is perfection, I had split seconds of forgetting I was watching an anime film, not live action. The film isn’t all visual style however; the story itself is very sweet, simple, and small. The growing relationship between the 15-year-old male student and the 27-year-old woman teacher is handled maturely and thoughtfully. Akisuki’s journey of coming of age and falling in love for the first time is handled very differently to most anime that tackle this kind of story; it’s not romanticised, it’s logical and minimal, but completely relatable. Seeing the two connect and find themselves as well as each other is lovely. It’s also nice to see the boy have an unusual hobby of cobbling shoes, and the scene where he draws a stencil of the teacher’s feet is the right mix of sensual and awe. Despite being 46 minutes long, it felt longer, but in a good way. We went on a journey with these characters and got swept away in the emotion. No scene was wasted or unnecessarily padded. A lovely little piece of film.
Garden of Words is out on DVD and Blu-Ray from Anime Limited.
Kurimi is distraught after her partner Hal dies in a tragic plane accident. An emotionally-developed robot is brought in and adjusted to achieve Hal’s likeness with the purpose of helping her come to terms with her loss. Robot Hal struggles to understand some human emotions, however, as information about Hal and Kurimi’s relationship comes to light.
Darkstorm says:Hal followed straight on from Garden of Words and the two are quite similar in that they’re centred on a couple going through big changes and finding their way in life through their connection. Hal however is a very different kettle of fish; as the relationship starts off very one-sided with Robo Hal trying to help Kurimi with her grief, but as the robot draws Kurimi out of the darkness, a few details from the past slowly creep up on the pair, rounding out their connection and relationship, before it all leads into a twist ending that is handled rather well. The two don’t have many scenes together in the first half, but the multiple flashbacks and Robo Hal’s selfless nature for Kurimi’s happiness did bring a lot of the heart into the film.
However, it’s slightly bogged down by the sci-fi aspect. There are some interesting ideas here and there, and several dark flashbacks to Hal’s past that would have been great if explored further in a longer film. However, because it’s left ambiguous, it sadly becomes wasted padding, and it makes the eventual antagonists of the film rather flat. On the whole it was a good film, nothing outstanding, but enjoyable all the same.
Hal hasn’t been licensed for a UK release as of yet.
Tiger & Bunny: The Rising
A new boss arrives at Apollon Media and fires Kotetsu T Kaburagi (‘Wild Tiger’) and promotes Barnaby Brooks Jr (‘Bunny’) to the First League, assigning him a new partner in the process – Golden Ryan. Our heroes are forced to think on their feet as three super-powered criminals threaten the lives of millions of innocent people. But Kaburagi is sidelined and Brooks has to confront the fact that his new partner may have great powers, but he’s also got a huge ego.
Reevo says: Unlike The Beginning which was a re-cap of the first part of the TV series with some new content added, The Rising takes place after the events of the TV series and is 100% original. This is what I was expecting from a Tiger & Bunny movie, unlike what I got with The Beginning.
First thing to mention is Golden Ryan, who has the superpower of creating a gravity field which, when entered, can stop almost anything, and is revealed early on to be Barnaby’s new partner. I did end up liking him since he shares some of Barnaby’s motivations when he first enters Hero TV. The movie gives him plenty of moments both in the action and comedy departments, he never feels unnecessary, and he makes a good addition to the film as a whole.
As for Kotetsu, he ends up joining the Second League, which consists of rookie superheroes helping stop minor crimes; his arc mostly consists of him being a retired hero but obviously has some key significance in the film.
The movie also brings some new character development, most importantly looking into Fire Emblem’s homosexuality. It’s a pretty sensitive subject that could easily ruin any film but The Rising does a fantastic job in giving Fire Emblem a much needed character arc, plus treating the subject matter maturely makes Fire Emblem a richer character because of it.
Obviously you get to see all the likeable Hero TV superheroes and they all get their moments; the film is full of action and the climax is worth everything by the end, delivering a great balance of plot and action.
The film looks great, there, although is some noticeable bad CGI at times, but Sternbild City has never looked so good, the action is fluid, and character designs are better then ever.
Gripes are few; some characters might have benefited from some more screen time but overall, The Rising is a really fun movie that I can recommend to all Tiger & Bunny fans, and let’s hope there is more material to come in the future.
Tiger & Bunny: The Rising has been licensed by Anime Limited but currently has no DVD release details.