Sci-Fi London Anime All-Nighter 2011

Posted by DiGiKerot in Free Talk, Random Stuff at May 30, 2011 on 9:02 pm

I think I’m going to be sounding like a broken record here, reiterating something that I’ve said in a previous post, but there’s nothing like being stuck on a train for three hours to focus ones mind towards writing something up one has been meaning to for a while. Funnily, in this case, I’m writing up something that involved my last three hour train ride somewhere, but on that occasion I didn’t drag my laptop with me – oddly enough, I figured being sat-up all night wouldn’t result in a productive state of mind.

Well, okay, that wasn’t necessarily funny.

Anyway, at the beginning of May, around the bank holiday weekend (or the Royal Wedding this year, for a reference point that might have a smidgen more relevant for the non-UK crowd. Clearly the actual date would be better, but that’d involve opening a calendar), the Sci-Fi London festival occurs, sporting a bunch of events and movie screenings. Part of that for a while now has been an all-night Anime movie marathon.

This years anime all-nighter, typically being the first I’ve bothered to attend (it’s not exactly in my neck of the woods, as the three-hour train ride should, one imagines, indicate) was perhaps a little less interesting than some have been. Last year, whilst the audience had to suffer through a Bleach movie, they were also treated to an early screening of Redline, Unlimited Blade Works and Musashi (the Mamoru Oshii one) – you know, stuff which at the time either hadn’t even been released in Japan on disk-media, or weren’t near release outside Japan. This year, on the other hand, most the stuff has either been released in the US already, or was near release over here.

To be fair, part of the reason for this is that they decided to lead off with a screening of Akira, as this year sees Manga Entertainment UKs 20th Anniversary. I can’t really say I can complain about that – whilst I’ve certainly seen Akira on more than a few occasions, it’s not something I’ve ever managed to see on the big screen. It’s kind of a shame that whatever they were doing in the projection process was resulting in some oddities with the video – I’m sure it was at least a step-up from the twenty year-old film print they screened back in Edinburgh last year, but it didn’t really look as good as the Blu-Ray master they were using should have. Disappointing, but Akira is still a pretty great movie with spectacular animation, and that Hypersonic sound (lol) was still magnificent pumped through a cinemas sound system.

Akira was followed up by a double-bill of Air Communication and The King of Eden. Air Communication, for those who haven’t heard of it, is a re-cap movie for the Eden of the East TV show. It’s alright, as far as re-cap movies go, by which I mean it’s actually a pretty coherent movie. I’m kind of surprised at how much they could actually cut out from that show and still have it make sense, given that I thought it was pretty tight series in the pacing sense, but they do plug the gaps with copious amounts of added narration from the whole cast. It does get a little grating in places (particularly when they start saying inane things over the more-interesting actual dialogue), but it’s frequent attempts at adding humour work for the most part, at least for those who’re already familiar with the TV show.

The problem is, it’s quite long, and then was followed immediately by King of Eden. I wouldn’t say that King of Eden was bad, as such, but it’s a very bloated-feeling movie. It’s hard not to come out of the movie thinking that, had this content have been part of the TV run, it’d have been over with in just two episodes. I’d cut it a bit more slack, and I’ll probably think better of it when I get to see it again (and I’m hoping to have the Blu-Ray by the time I get to posting this), but three hours of Eden of the East, particularly when being watched after three in the morning, is just too much in one go. I kind of feel it was a mistake in the scheduling, but I do appreciate why it was done – you can’t really expect the whole audience to be familiar enough with Eden of the East to be able to follow King of Eden without a primer, but at the same time, it’s not like Air Communication on it’s own would be much of a draw to the audience – I admit, a large part of the reason I drug myself to the event was to see King of Eden in a theatre.

What definitely was a mistake in the scheduling was TO, a CG Sci-Fi production from the folks behind, err, Appleseed. TO isn’t the kind of thing that you should be showing people at six in the morning. It has a very 70’s British SF feel to it, with more than an added touch of The Outer Limits, and it’s very, very dry, self-serious and melodramatic. It’s also kind of bad, or at least that’s the perception that I got at the time (as I’ve previously said, it’s not exactly the best circumstances in which to fairly judge a movie). Saying that, if the movie starting with an extended credit sequence that highlighted it’s all-star voice cast more than it’s production crew (Aya Hirano is totally doing her Haruhi-voice here) wasn’t a bad enough sign, the fact that the production proper essentially starts with an almost carbon copy of one of the most famous shots in SF movie history certainly is.

Which is a large part of the problem – you’ve definitely seen everything it has to offer before, be it in other movies, or a half-dozen different episodes of Star Trek. There’s no flamboyance to the direction either – infact, I spent most of the movie in hysterics at how obvious they were being about where things were going, or at how transparent the shots and editing they no-doubt thought were really clever were. It was familiar to the point of hilarity.

Which is where half of the audience were with the movie – well, the half which hadn’t fallen asleep by the time it started. A chunk of the audience were bored out of their minds with it, whilst the rest just gave up all pretence of being good cinema goers (or were in delirious hysterics through a combination of lack of sleep and free Mountain Dew) and openly mocked it aloud. Indeed, when the first half ended (on a moment which caused pretty much everyone paying attention to cry out in disbelief at the ridiculousness) only to reveal it was a two-parter, an odd mixture of groaning and applause spread throughout the auditorium.

Still, they did close off the night with a screening of REDLINE… which started after the all-nighter was advertised to finish. Yup, the whole thing overrun significantly. Not that I mind seeing REDLINE again in the slightest, although it did make me panic somewhat about my ability to catch my train. I realise that everyone is probably fed-up with hearing about it at this point, but I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of the movie. I mean, this is the third time I’ve seen REDLINE now, and it still felt like it flew by, with never a boring moment. It’s out on BR in Japan in August and the UK in September – those who complain that the anime industry isn’t producing anything for them these days really need to buy this to be able to continue complaining without being hypocritical (not that being hypocritical ever stopped anyone, myself included, doing anything).

And… there’s not really much more to say about the event. Being the antisocial sort, the only interaction I performed (aside from the numerous 3DS streetpass hits I got) was when someone questioned me as to where I got my awesome Patlabor movie Hyper-OS T-shirt from (which is great – I’ve worn that to a few events now and I’ve always been disappointed that no-one has asked me about it).

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