Ancien and the Magic Tablet: Radical Dreamers


hisui_icon_4040_round As I have mentioned several times on the blog and podcast we have been getting anime movies in English far sooner than we have in the past. In the age of streaming in English, an hour after a TV show comes out in Japan movies and OVA are much easier to forget. When a movie comes out a year after the fanfare has died out in Japan it can be easy for it to get lost in the shuffle. Now titles that are part of big franchises or are from certainly noted directors are remembered but everything else depends on marketing. I mean how many people remember that Harmony existed or that The Empire of Corpses got an English release? Now let’s be honest. Not every film would be memorable if it got a simultaneous release. Some mediocre and rotten films were made to be forgotten. But there has been a distinct move with the help of new distribution methods like Fathom Events that make it much simpler to help the great films that would find a wider audience if they come here sooner.

That said the release of Ancien and the Magic Tablet is sort of crazy. It played at the New York International Children’s Film Festival the day after it was released in Japan. When we got Your Name as quickly as we did I was impressed. The fact that Kenji Kamiyama was doing the Q&A in New York not long after the Japanese debut is impressive if somewhat masochistic. I hardly expect such an amazing turns around on a regular basis but it is amazing when it happens. (If they want to do such things with the Heaven’s Feels movies I won’t complain.)

One of the major benefits of the near simultaneous screenings is that I went into Ancien and the Magic Tablet with almost no expectations or preconceived notions. I only really saw the little picture on the NYICFF website and nothing else. I knew it was directed by Kenji Kamiyama but I did not even read the synopsis. I wanted to experience it as pure as possible. Considering how bombarded you can be with trailers, previews, spoilers, and interviews you often have to take a very conscious effort to go into a movie fresh so I decided that I would take the opportunity when it was presented to me on a silver platter.

Continue reading

The Garden of Words: Let Us All Avoid the Anime Foot Fetishist Rabbit Hole

hisui_icon_4040_round I would have normally titled this Only Happy When It Rains but you can’t understand the deep dark journey we went on for a bit after this movie. I needed to use the title to provide a warning for those who might otherwise inadvertently follow in our footsteps after reading this post. Just know that the Internet is rich with veins of content for those who wish to mix their love of Japanese cartoons and tootsies. Unless that is your preference merely know that it exists and then move on.

As I was writing the Your Name review I realized that The Garden of Words was still a major oversight the filmography of Makoto Shinkai. It is in an interesting position in his repertoire. It is shorter than his full-length films but longer than his short works. It is distinctly longer than his Voices of a Distant Star debut short film but also far shorter than 5 Centimeters Per Second which is his shortest full-length film. It does seem to be in an unusual position between short and full-length film. I discovered that Shinkai did not originally plan to have this play in theaters. It was originally just supposed to be distributed on the Internet but then got upgraded to run in theaters. That explains its more unusual 46 minutes run time.

That made me wonder if The Garden of Words would feel more like a short that got fluffed up to its current run time, a theatrical piece that was cut to 46 minutes, or would it be written to fit that time frame.

narutaki_icon_4040_round I always enjoy Makoto Shinkai’s stories, so when Al brought to my attention that we still hadn’t watched The Garden of Words I was shocked by the oversight. I was excited to return to Mr. Shinkai’s short stories with a loving attention to detail.

Continue reading

Your Name. Here

hisui_icon_4040_round Makoto Shinkai is a fairly well-known anime director. He has enough name recognition that people outside of the anime community actually know his name. His films regularly appear at film festivals and win a good deal of awards. He even gets the always sort of awkward next Miyazaki title along with Mamoru Hosoda. Overall a fairly enviable career. That said I think his films have always been a hair’s breadth away from being super successful. As I have mentioned they win awards and critical praise but they always seem more art house darlings than blockbusters. But all of that changed last year. Your Name was the fourth highest-grossing film of all time in Japan and the highest-grossing anime film worldwide. In fact, this little joke from the recent Fate/Grand Order short pretty much says it all:

To sum up the scene Your Name is just the go-to reference when you want to talk about financially and critically successful anime.

So with several other anime and manga making reference to the movie, and it generally just getting praise left and right, I really felt a NEED to see this movie. When I was able to see it at the New York International Children’s Film Festival I knew I had to go. Would this be the next 5 Centimeters Per Second or more like the new Children Who Chase Lost Voices?

Continue reading