The Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival starts on September 29th at Chapter Arts in Cardiff with the opening ceremony where festival director Eiko Meredith will introduce Wales to a selection of some of the best animated films to come from Japan over the course of the last year.
Indeed, the festival caps what has been a stellar year for anime on the big screen with films such as Your Name and Napping Princess being screened theatrically up and down the UK and there are even more films planned for later in the year. Kotatsu is helping to keep this trend going by bringing together 8 feature films and 14 shorts with 15 Welsh premieres amidst the programme. This year we are hosting the event in the partnership with the Japan Foundation.
Audiences will be thrilled with a selection of stories running from sci-fi to fantasy and the mundane, all told in a variety of styles from a typical slice-of-life anime made special because of its touching story to a weird romance where characters end up in the belly of a whale. The titles we have selected run from the immensely popular and critically acclaimed sci-fi romance Your Name to the touching slice-of-life drama A Silent Voice which examines bullying and forgiveness. For something completely different, we are going retro with a 1970s anime called The Belladonna of Sadness a psycho-sexual mind-trip of a movie with stunning art and a harrowing story. It has toured the international film festival circuit where it has wowed critics but this is the first time it has been screened in Wales.
After hosting two of the Project Itoh films in previous years, Kotatsu brings the trilogy to a close with Genocidal Organ but for something lights and for something for all the family, people can see Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale and Napping Princess. There are many short films on offer from Production I.G and our special guest (more on him below) including Kickheart, one of three films by the director Masaaki Yuasa.
Kotatsu is super excited to be one of the first festivals to show Mind Game and The Night is Short, Walk on Girl, the first of which is rarely shown in cinemas and the second being a recent release in Japan. Audiences will be able to see why anime fans herald him as a great talent as they see romances that involve protagonists experiencing strange and mystical adventures in pursuit of love. See them as they encounter tengu and end up in the belly of a whale through a series of misadventures and misunderstandings all told through unique and lively animation.
We are also excited to be hosting Professor Yuichi Ito of the Tokyo National University of Arts Graduate School. He is a special guest coming all the way from Japan to talk about how he has created many award-winning anime, his ethos, his methods and what he is teaching his students, the future creators of anime. This is a great chance for audiences to interact with an actual animator and learn more about the craft. This programme is supported by The Japan Foundation.
Not only that, we are bringing back the ever-popular market and raffle which will feature special prizes and goods to be bought thanks to Yuichi Ito who is bringing a number of items to Britain and also thanks to our festival staff who scoured the stores of Akihabara and other otaku spots for great gifts for a wide variety of people. There are also plenty of educational activities such as a Calligraphy class and a Manga drawing workshop both of which are hosted by professional artists.