Films at the 2015 Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival

2015 marks the fifth year of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival, the only film event in Wales to show anime on the big screen. The festival takes place over the course of a day in Cardiff and Aberystwyth and the programming team aims to screen a wide variety of animated films that encompass mainstream and indie feature films and shorts so audiences can get a taste of the breadth and depth of artistry and subjects that Japanese animation covers.

Last year’s event was jam-packed with sold-out screenings at Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre  and the Aberystwyth Arts Centre with films like Patema Inverted and Colorful providing entertainment on the big screen for a diverse audience. This year’s event looks set to do the same with a line-up of feature films that span the decades and come from various animation studios. Highlights include Perfect Blue, a psycho-thriller about a pop idol and a deadly stalker from Satoshi Kon. This was animated by Madhouse and is widely considered a brilliant film. There is also the family-friendly but melancholy A Letter to Momo, a Production I.G feature about a girl getting over the loss of a loved one with the help of some supernatural friends. The biggest title for long-time anime fans will surely be Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, the film which launched studio Gainax.

Here’s a look at the festival line-up going on the festival website’s programme:

Cardiff: Chapter Arts, Saturday 26th September 2015                                                                                                    

11:00                        A Letter to Momo      120 mins

13:15                        Short Peace    68 mins

                                   Extra Short Films:

                                   Maku    5m 26s

                                   The Night of the Naporitan   6m 18s

                                   The Small Garden   12m 22s

16:00                        Tiger & Bunny: The Rising     108 mins

18:30                        Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise      121 mins

20:45                        Perfect Blue    80 mins

Aberystwyth: Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Saturday 10th October 2015  

10:25                        Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise      121 mins

12:45                        A Letter to Momo      120 mins

15:00                        Tiger & Bunny: The Rising     108 mins

17:05                        Short Peace

                                   Extra Short Films:

                                   Maku    5m 26s

                                   The Night of the Naporitan   6m 18s

                                   The Small Garden   12m 22s

Here’s more about the films themselves. To find out when the festival is screening and the prices of tickets, click on the links to the venues (tickets are already on sale at Chapter):

A Letter to Momo (2011)   

Director: Hiroyuki Okiura

Duration: 120 mins

Chapter Arts Centre Tickets   Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Synopsis: Following the death of her father a young girl named Momo and her mother Ikuko move from the bustling metropolis of Tokyo to Ikuko’s childhood home on the remote island of Shio. Momo finds it difficult to adjust to the loss of her father and her new surroundings but when she explores the attic of her new big house and finds an antique picture-book with sketches of fantastical creatures, strange things happen and she discovers she is sharing a house with three mischievous yokai.

Tiger & Bunny: The Rising (2014)

Director: Yoshitomo Yonetani

Running Time: 108 mins

Chapter Arts Centre Tickets  Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Synopsis: The heroes of TIGER & BUNNY Kotetsu T. Kaburagi, a.k.a. Wild Tiger, and Barnaby Brooks Jr. resume their careers as heroes fighting crime in HERO TV’s Second League following the events of the Maverick incident but the new owner of Apollon Media, Mark Schneider, splits up their partnership and pairs Barnaby with a new hero, the powerful and egotistical Golden Ryan. The two are sent to investigate a series of events linked to Stern Bild city’s Goddess Legend and discover new super-powered NEXTs plotting to destroy everything. Barnaby and Golden Ryan must overcome their differences to save the lives of millions while Kotetsu rediscovers what it means to be a hero.

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (1987)    

Director: Hiroyuki Yamaga

Running Time: 121 mins

Chapter Arts Centre Tickets   Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Synopsis: In a world somewhat similar to our own, two nations are on the verge of war and use their technology for destruction. An amiable dreamer from the Kingdom of Honneamise named Shirotsugh Lhadatt fails to make the grade as a navy pilot and finds himself in the underfunded and unloved Royal Space Force. He is inspired to reach for the stars after a chance encounter with a pacifist but he finds himself in a race against time to leave the Earth and become the first man in space because war looms large and there are those supporting his mission that have an ulterior motive.

Perfect Blue   

Director: Satoshi Kon

Running Time: 80 mins

Chapter Arts Centre Tickets   Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Synopsis: Mima Kirigoe was a member of a successful J-pop idol group named “Cham!” but she turned her back on music to pursue a career as an actress on a television crime drama called “Double Blind.” This decision unleashes the anger of obsessive fans who stalk her online through a website called “Mima’s Room” and their obsessions enter her real life when one stalker named Me-Mania enters the scene and threatens her life. Soon people involved in Mima’s career start showing up dead and Mima looks like the chief suspect. As her life begins to unravel, Mima finds herself in the grip of paranoia and begins to lose track of what is reality and nightmare.

Short Peace (2013)

Duration: 68 mins

Chapter Arts Centre Tickets   Aberystwyth Arts Centre

Short Peace is a compilation of four short films written and directed by four different directors, each giving their take on the theme of Japan:


Director: Shuhei Morita

In 18th Century Japan, a lone traveller deep in the mountains loses his way on a stormy night and chances upon an abandoned shrine which houses otherworldly creatures.


Director: Katsuhiro Otomo

In 18th Century Edo-period Japan, Owaka and Matsukichi long to be together but when Matsukichi becomes a fireman he is disowned by his family and Owaka’s family set up an arranged marriage for her, it seems that fate is against them – but a fire will bring them together.


Director: Hiroaki Ando

A giant red demon appears and attacks an isolated village in a mountainous region of northeast Japan at the end of the 16th century. A young village girl named Kao seeks the help of a mysterious white bear in defending her home.

A Farewell to Weapons

Director: Hajime Katoki

In a war-torn future Tokyo, a platoon of armoured soldiers battles a robotic tank.

Extra Short Films

Before the main feature, there will also be three additional short films that audiences can enjoy:


Director: Yoriko Mizushiri

Duration: 5m 26s

Kyogen Stage/Eye Examination Room/Sushi Bar Counter – “There are two people who face each other in each space. Each pair keeps a few distance between their partners and find some fearful, tender, and comfortable feelings that fascinate them. The feelings are put into practice immediately, and they start groping each feeling. Somehow I try to blend and connect them.” (Source: Yoriko Mizushiri)

The Night of the Naporitan

Director: Yusuke Sakamoto

Duration: 6m 18s

The Naporitan Spaghetti, the main character of the film, is neither Italian nor Japanese cuisine. Having lost his identity, Naporitan Spaghetti embarks on a journey of self-discovery around the world. This is a tragic story of Naporitan Spaghetti who never learnt how to love others. This animated film has been both produced and directed by Yusuke Sakamoto, who also provided the voiceover for Naporitan Spaghetti.

The Small Garden

Director: Shunsuke Saito

Duration: 12m 22s

Did the universe begin with a yin-yang globe or with an egg? The most plausible, science-based insight into the mystery of everything since The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

On top of the films, the Cardiff portion of the festival features the popular family-friendly marketplace with Japanese food and goods, manga drawing workshops and a raffle with great prizes offering further entertainment and goods to take home.

To find out more about the venues where the Kotatsu festival will take place and purchase tickets for any of these films you can head to the venue websites:

Chapter Arts Centre   Aberystwyth Arts Centre

To find out more and stay in contact with the festival, you can use Twitter the Kotatsu Website and the festival’s Facebook page.


I'm a long-time anime and Japanese film and culture fan who has lived in the country and is studying Japanese in an effort to become fluent. I write about films, anime, and work on various things.

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