Choc Shock

So that’s Scotland Loves Anime done and in the bag, and me off to get the afternoon train to London. It’s been a great nine days that’s seen me interviewing Satoshi Nishimura and Shigeru Kitayama in Glasgow, and discussing Translation at Edinburgh University — some very impressive and inspiring  students there, including one who did some amazing MSc work comparing professional work and fansubs, and who’s got his just reward, a cushy job in Frankfurt localising for Nintendo.

Friday was the Education Day at the Edinburgh Filmhouse, where I led 20 Animation students through the miseries of production accounting, legal, packaging, and broadcasting. Within two hours, they were pitching a 13-episode TV series about evil overlord Tone Def and his incompetent space pirates trying to steal chocolate from Earth, and held off by an alien pop group, while I enumerated all the reasons they were going to get sued. There was much shouting and laughter, but also, I think, a bit of learning going on. And so we have Choc Shock, to add to previous workshops’ story ideas such as Decontaminators (from the Irish Film Institute) and Hattie Bast: Mummy’s Girl (from Screen Academy Wales). This time, we incorporated recent unexpected discoveries I have made about the correlations between TV ratings and the longevity of toy lines, based on claims made by Tokyo Movie Shinsha’s Keishi Yamazaki in his book Terebi Anime Damashii.

On Friday afternoon, we had Nik Taylor from Rockstar talking about the development of Grand Theft Auto 4, and Oscar Wright from Scott Pilgrim taking us frame-by-frame through the film’s anime inspirations. I found this particularly fascinating, not only for his excerpts of influential cartoons, games and comics, but for the debates over how many frames onscreen sound effects should be held for. Then a panel about finding work in the industry, in which Helen Jackson of Binary Fable joined us to discuss the applications of student skills in the real world. A fantastic day. Meanwhile, Michael Sinterniklaas has been around all weekend, discussing dubbing and localisation on several panels, and taking a bow at the screening of Summer Wars, for which he has just recorded the lead voice in the English dub. He’s a force of nature, bubbling with industry insider information, and peppering his stories with a thousand voices. He’s back in England for next week’s London Expo, and I think fans are in for a treat.

From Friday night onwards there were more screenings to introduce: Redline for a boggled crowd, followed by a screening of Professor Layton that was entirely transformed by a bonus giggling lady in the audience. Also, I appeared to be sitting in front of Admiral Ackbar, who kept saying: “IT’S A TRAP!” Sunday morning was an unexpected and illuminating encounter with Joe Peacock, who talked me through the Akira exhibition that has been at the Filmhouse all week — including some amazing original cels that show nine planes of movement.

Scotland Loves Anime has been an incredible success — there were people in town who had travelled from as far afield as France for the premiere of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya; we had entertaining Japanese guests for Trigun; Redline made everyone feel like they’d been shot out of a cannon; the Education Day was truly educational, and everything rounded off with a sold-out screening of Akira. As festival director Andrew Partridge said himself, would Katsuhiro Otomo have ever imagined a packed screening for his film in the capital of Scotland, 22 years after its original release?

Made in Scotland…From Girders

So that’s the first weekend done of Scotland Loves Anime, a mad rush of films and festivities in Glasgow, featuring Satoshi Nishimura and Shigeru Kitayama, the director and producer of Trigun: Badlands Rumble. They were both charming, enthusiastic and informative, and deeply appreciative of the reaction of the Scots to their work. I would say more about it, but I have spent the last three days in a sleepless Japanese haze, and someone else has most meticulous reports that actually remember them better than I do. Follow the links for in-depth accounts of the Summer Wars screening and the Q+A that followed the UK premier of Trigun: Badlands Rumble.

This morning I’m off to Newcastle University to see the people there, but I am back in Edinburgh for Wednesday, when I shall be terrorising and traumatising class Japanese Translation 2B with tales from the anime world. Another lecture open to all university students in the afternoon, and then finally I shall get some sleep… although on Friday it’s the Scotland Loves Anime Education Day, and then another weekend of frolics in Edinburgh.

There’s an article on it all in last week’s Scotsman on Sunday, too. I’ve got to write my next Neo columns while I’m here, so hopefully I will be able to find the time in the middle of all this to sit down and annotate the latest issue of Big Comic Original.


Issue #2 of Salon Futura is now up online, and includes my in-depth piece on the origins of Takeshi Koike’s Redline – just out in the US and Japan, and due to play at Scotland Loves Anime this weekend.

Meanwhile, as if that wasn’t enough crazy action, Danica Davidson has interviewed me today over at the Otaku USA website.

Back from Locarno

At last, I’m back from the Locarno Film Festival. Even though anime was only one of several strands, it still saw more incident than several conventions combined across ten-days of multiple screenings and events. There were hundreds of anime on show, including screenings of Summer Wars, Musashi: Dream of the Last Samurai and an open-air screening of Ponyo.
Continue reading