The final day of the Glasgow wing of this years Scotland Loves Anime event started off with a screening of the first Tiger and Bunny movie. Which, of course, I skipped. Nothing against Tiger and Bunny, mind you, more that I’d thankfully seen the movie back when it screened in London, and I say “thankfully” as the screening clashed with a QA session with K-On! director Naoko Yamada which was starting but a half-hour later. I’d probably have been annoyed if I hadn’t seen Tiger and Bunny previously, but as it is, I guess the scheduling may have been a move to throttle down the number of people who wanted to attend the free-ticketed QA session to more manageable levels.
Once again, though, chaostangent has a write-up of the QA session already, so go read that if you’re curious. There was a brief signing session after the talk, for which I’d dragged by way-too-heavy Japanese LE movie BD all the way to Scotland, which seemingly shocked the guest into forgetting her High School English spelling lessons. Which just kind of makes it better, really. Certainly more adorable, and dare I say it, Yui-esque.
As far as the actual anime programming for the day goes, first thing I was in for was Anime Mirai Project 2012 (more commonly previously known as Young Animators Training Project before they decided to give it an official English moniker). Basically, the Japanese government throws a bunch of cash at a bunch of animation studios in order to let them make a short feature at a reasonable budget with a relatively untested staff. The four 2012 shorts have been floating around for a while, though.
Of the four, L’il Spider Girl (Wasuregumono) is probably the most traditionally impressive effort. Starting out with an Abe-no-Shinmei like Onmyoji battling flame-breathing Spider creatures overrunning an ancient Japanese city, it cuts to present day where a hapless young girl accidental lets a rather adorable looking example of these creatures free from the book in which it was trapped. The owner of the antique bookstore is immediately smitten with the moe-moe Spider girl, then… well, things it’s maybe not best spoiling happen.
Of the others, I wasn’t particularly fond of Pretending Not to See (Shiranpuri), which, even as a short film, came off as being a little long for what essentially comes across as a school educational “bullying is bad, m’kay” feature. Buta was a pretty fun take on the old “lone swordsman” Samurai movies, only with anthropomorphic characters and also pirates and a big robot. Juju the Weightless Dugong had nice animation and a lot of heart. Overall a pretty good and diverse bunch, though.
The weekend wrapped up with Blood-C: The Last Dark, the movie spin-off from last years Blood-C. I’ll just say up front that, if you’ve not seen the TV show, then you probably shouldn’t bother with it. A quick straw poll after the movie suggested that enjoyment of the movie was directly in line with how much of the TV version people had been exposed to (and enjoyed), with those completely unfamiliar finding it rather awful.
I’m not really sure entirely why that would be the case. For the most part, I guess it’s because the movie does a really poor job of putting across what it’s conflict is actually all about, and whilst there’s a half-hearted flashback to the TV show, it’s entirely inadequate for newcomers. After the TV shows rather… spectacular ending, the events unfolding in the movie also end up feeling rather neutered, despite having been released from the constraints of TV broadcast. If you hadn’t seen the TV show, you really wouldn’t get the proper sense as to how terrifying the Eldar Bairns are supposed to be.
Also, as is getting increasingly common in these productions, there’s some fairly janky CG on display. Shortly into the movie there’s a big car chase sequence, which is kind of decent for the most part, but some of the cars are rather too gloss-plasticky looking in their appearance, and the physics are sporadically off enough to come across as jarring. Worse is probably the way they use CG mannequins to fill out the background in busy suburban scenes – and I say mannequins because they look really stiff, particularly when contrasted against the more expressive hand-drawn protagonists.
All of which is likely coming across really negatively, but I still enjoyed the movie. Admittedly, I was one of those folks who liked what ultimately proved to be a rather divisive TV series, but whilst the movie lacks the series brutality, it still had a certain amount of charm to it. Whilst they were sticking to more traditional hand animation, the action sequences were pretty spectacular. It does leave room for another sequel at some point, but it does wrap most of the dangling plot-threads up, even if the climax does come across a little limp.
Which comes off as another negative more than a positive, I guess. I suppose the story here is that I enjoyed the movie in-spite of itself rather than because it did a good job of exposing it’s own strengths. To be honest, though, the only people who’re likely to get much out of the movie – those who loved the TV version – would probably want to watch this regardless of what I have to say, and conversely nothing I could say would likely convince those who abhorred the series to give it a try either. Kind of a fruitless review, really.
There’s also a gratuitous, entirely unnecessary bathing sequence part-way through. I’ll let you decide whether that’s a good or bad thing.