Art for Art’s Sake

invernessHello, Ian. Hello, Stuart. I’m addressing you by name because you are the only people who have shown up. So my introduction to today’s screening of Patema Inverted doesn’t really require a microphone. I’ve flown up here from London. Andrew Partridge there has driven me for one hour from Glasgow to Perth, and then we sat on the train for two hours to Inverness. So that’s the two of us, and Kevin the projectionist, and the usher lady and She That Sells the Popcorn, all here for your benefit this sunny Sunday.

Since the British Film Institute is forking out a bucket of Lottery money per venue for this tour of the regions, you’re basically each the recipient of a Garden of Sinners DVD’s worth of subsidies. But that’s what Lottery money is for – taking risks with odd and niche-interest films, in search of unexpected spikes of interest and swells in consumer behaviour in a dozen places that would otherwise not see any anime at all. Yesterday we were in Bo’ness, a picturesque Scottish village decorated with ominous signs about how “Summer is Coming” and “Hail to Our Queen,” as if the locals were already erecting a Wicker Man to greet us. But 30 people showed up to see the film, and many were keen to ask questions about the Kickstarter for the DVD or the movies on show at this year’s Scotland Loves Anime.

The definition of success for mini-tours such as this is an order of magnitude away from packed London Film Festival screenings, and buckets of money. If profit were the sole motive, anime would never reach cinemas like this at all. It’s far more arty and bespoke, like M. Night Shyamalan’s plea in Lady in the Water that a work of art only has to have a single person love it for it to become worthwhile. Maybe we turned you into anime fans today. Maybe we turned you into festival-goers or Kickstarter angels, or NEO subscribers. Maybe we just carried on the conversation, putting Patema back into the public eye, and hence promoting it to people who hadn’t heard of it. Whatever the result, we keep doing this, because this is how you grow a market for anime, one person at a time… until they tell their friends.

(Scotland Loves Anime would like to point out that after Jonathan’s introduction in Inverness, the audience in the auditorium quadrupled in size, quadrupled! To nine people, including three Hungarians.)

Jonathan Clements is the author of Anime: A History. This article first appeared in NEO 126, 2014.

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Patema Inverted

patemaUp now on the Manga UK blog, my article on Patema Inverted, the Japanese animated movie coming to UK cinemas in May: ‘Yoshiura confessed in an interview that these are all part of his overlying scheme for “inversions” throughout the plot, that every possible element of his film should involve a clash of opposites or the confounding of expectations. This attention to detail can be seen in everything from the regimented but unhappy overground realm to the chaotic but jolly underground exiles. Even Michiru Oshima’s music is revealed as an outgrowth of this idea, with the two leads’ themes each written as a musical palindrome of the other, advancing on its own counterpoint until they unite in a new synergy.’