Scotland Loves Anime 2012 – Weekend the First, Day The First

Posted by DiGiKerot in Events at October 16, 2012 on 6:02 pm

Yes, it’s that time of year once again where I decamp up to Scotland for two weekends in a row to watch a whole bunch of anime in the cinema. Oh, what a difficult life I lead.

Not that this year’s event actually started with an anime screening – rather, they went with the live-action version of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, quite possibly a wise move given it sold out in advance of the screening. The movie was directed by somewhat infamous director Takashi Miike, who seems to throw together half a dozen movies a year, and has gone from making crazy low-budget movies to equally crazy movies but with a higher budget.

Not that I’ve seen many of them, beyond 13 Assassins from a couple of years back (which is a very entertaining Seven Samurai-esque affair, if a little slow in the middle). 13 Assassins wasn’t really channelling the craziness that Miike is known for, though. Ace Attorney, however, most certainly was.

As a movie, it’s a pretty straight adaptation of the first game in terms of the overall plot, though obviously it has to run through things at one heck of a pace – the game is a fairly lengthy affair which is essentially a visual novel with a little point-and-click adventure stapled onto it. The movie itself isn’t exactly short – it’s a a smidgen over a healthy two hours in length – but it does have to sacrifice a significant chunk of characterisation (at least for Maya) and most of the games investigation sequences in order to meet it’s running length.

What you get instead is a whole bunch of crazy courthouse scenes. They manage to keep things pretty visually interesting for something which takes place primarily in the same place – all the evidence and court files are presented using a ludicrously complex looking holographic projection device which grows out of the ceiling, allowing the lawyers in attendance to literally throw their evidence at each other. There’s a pretty hilarious gag regarding that in the movies flashback sequences as well.

Then there’s the audience. Even for the main characters, they’ve been incredibly faithful in dressing the principal actors up to look as close to the game characters as possible, realism be damned. The audience in the courthouse, however, seems to change pretty much every time they appear on camera, and display no regard to sensible or consistent clothing. In one show, half of them may be dressed as maids, another might see them donning crazy wigs which may not even cover their regular hair correctly, or oversized hair ribbons. It’s kind of indicative of the attention to detail the movie puts into it’s weirder elements.

That said, I’m not really sure how much there is to appeal to people who haven’t played the game previously – it’s a very humorous and charming recap of the series for the initiated, but I do wonder if the unfamiliar will just feel like they’re being left out of a big in-joke, particularly given it’s perhaps a touch over-long. Also to that end, it was also the token movie which has some really peculiar subtitles pf the season – perhaps understandably, they’ve chosen to mirror the games as closely as possible, but given they renamed all the characters for outside Japan in order to try and maintain as much of the sense of humour as they could, it means that you are rather slapped in the face with a huge dose of cognitive dissonance. It’s rather unfortunate a rock-and-hard-place situation, though, as most people would be going into this movie with prior knowledge of the games via their English incarnations, and would likely be equally annoyed at (or at least thrown by) having to keep track of another set of names altogether.

But, hey, I’m a tolerant guy who is fairly familiar with the Ace Attorney franchise, so for me, it was one of the definite highlights of the weekend.

Which is also something I could say about the second film of the seasons first day – Gyo, or as it’s monikered over here, Tokyo Fish Attack – but I would be saying it was a “highlight” in an entirely different sense. Based on an old Junji Ito manga, it was released in Japan as part of ufotable’s short-lived Anime Bunko project intended to let less experienced animators make product which wasn’t necessarily going to be possible on TV or theatrically, alongside Yuri Seijin Naoko-san and Minori Scramble.

Whilst those two were pretty well received (if not exactly best selling), however, Gyo is probably indicative of why the Anime Bunko project was pretty shortlived – it was kind of remarkably terrible. Large parts of the audience quickly burst into fits of riotous laughter at what was supposed to ostensibly be a horror piece, but as a work it didn’t really show enough self-awareness to be taken as a deliberately comedic or parody piece instead. It was merely really, really stupid. Whilst I kind of enjoyed the movie as something to mock, and for the goofy jokes it provided for the rest of the weekend, it’s not something I’d ever recommend anyone watching unless they are very, very drunk.

Or if they have a thing for bulbous green women spewing gas from every orifice. If that’s the case, then Gyo may well be the movie for you!

Leave a Comment