I’m back home from ten days of guest wrangling, crowd control, film-pushing and jury slapping at Scotland Loves Anime, which had a wonderful ninth year. As is becoming traditional, a round-up of the jury deliberations has been released as a podcast, in order to give the public an insight into the kind of arguments and positions involved in selecting a single winner. Jurors Roxy Simons, Kim Morrissy, Callum May and Almar Haflidason had to deal with the trade-off between immediate, gut reaction (which snagged the Audience Award for the weepy I Want to Eat Your Pancreas), versus a more objective, considered assessment (which left Penguin Highway with the Golden Partridge, controversially beating Mamoru Hosoda’s acclaimed Mirai).
Ahead of the European premiere of Eureka 7: Hi-Evolution 1, director Tomoki Kyoda pokes at his posh-nosh gnocchi with a fork. The Michelin-recommended hotel is a far cry from the Scotland he saw in certain movies, one of which supplied the name of his lead character.
“Originally Renton was a place-holder name I just lifted it from a film I liked. I figured I would go back and change it sometime. But then the production got so integrated into rave music, and people kept calling him Renton. In fact, the working title for a long time was Renton 7. Eureka just kind of stuck.
He confesses to me that he is worried he should admit such things to a Scottish audience. “Won’t they be insulted that I have stolen something from them?” he frets. No, I say, they will love it. This is, after all the same Scotland Loves Anime festival that was once celebrated in a notorious cartoon that pastiched the “Choose Life” speech from Trainspotting, delivered by a figure in a kilt backed up by a Braveheart-era Mel Gibson riding a giant mutant haggis.
Ten years on from Eureka 7’s original airing in Japan, Kyoda is overseeing a film trilogy that re-cuts and augments the original, taking it off in a very different direction, much like the Evangelion movies. Some things, however, remain the same. “In the original, I wanted to give 2D animators the chance to do fighting robots. Everyone only ever wanted 3D work, and I felt that the industry was losing a particular skillset.” A decade later, he is more concerned about the disappearance of a different echelon of talent.
“The thing that amazed me about the Tohoku Earthquake was how little it affected the business. The studios managed to keep running. We outsource so much work these days that Japan can suffer all sorts of issues and just keep rolling. But we rely so heavily on the overseas in-betweeners that we couldn’t function without them. If you want to know what shuts down the Japanese animation industry these days, it’s a national holiday in China.
“So, anyway, the first thing I did when I got to Scotland is I dragged everybody down to Edinburgh. I got them to take my pictures as I ran along Princes Street, and down those steps (they’re not where you think they are, you know), and banged into a car. I went and found that bridge from the film. I was like a Trainspotting tourist.”
“Did you try and score any heroin?” I ask.
“No,” he says.
This article first appeared in NEO 170, 2017. Eureka 7: Hi-Evolution 1 is released in the UK by Anime Limited on 27th August 2018.
I feature in two podcasts up recently on AlltheAnime. One is the pre-Scotland Loves Anime interview, in which I talk about the politics of hosting Japanese guests, and libel a bunch of industry figures while discussing their peccadilloes. Then, a week later, I appear at the jury chairman in the big jury hoedown, when festival judges Amelia Cook, Rayna Denison and Elliot Page discuss the four films in competition.
Over at All the Anime on their monthly podcast, I appear in my role as jury chairman on the awards committee for Scotland Loves Anime, in discussion with members of this year’s panel: Eric Beckman from Gkids and the New York International Children’s Film Festival, Anna Francis from the distributor National Amusements, and Miles Thomas from Crunchyroll. The fourth and final juror, Shelley Page from DreamWorks, was off climbing a hill in Edinburgh.
Discussion includes the four films under consideration: Kingsglaive, Momotaro — Sacred Sailors, A Silent Voice and Your Name, alongside the likely damage that Mods can cause to international sales, the rise and rise of Makoto Shinkai and the tropes of “disability” drama.
Listeners with an interest in what goes on behind the scenes at film festivals can also check out podcasts from earlier years. Highlights include Justin Sevakis and a NSFW digression on hentai in 2015, Gemma Cox on writing about women in anime in 2014, and Hugh David on film and video restoration in 2013.
I appear in my role as the Scotland Loves Anime jury chairman in this month’s All the Anime Podcast, in which we discuss the four features in competition: Miss Hokusai, The Case of Hana & Alice, Expelled from Paradise and Empire of Corpses. For anyone interested in the kind of dialogue that goes on behind the scenes at a film festival, it should be quite illuminating.
Since Anime News Network’s Justin Sevakis was one of this year’s judges, talk then turns to his career behind the scenes in US anime distribution, most notably the hellish life of a hentai trailer maker, with reference to the notorious Night Shift Nurses (pictured). As a result, this podcast is most definitely Not Suitable For Work, unless you work at at anime company — trigger warnings for necrophilia, scatology and incest, and that’s just the guests, everything from the Golden Partridge to the Golden Shower.
Up now on the All the Anime blog, my article on Shunji Iwai’s rotoscoped movie The Case of Hana & Alice, winner of the Audience Award at Scotland Loves Anime.
Packing my suitcase for this year’s Scotland Loves Anime, which begins on Friday in Glasgow. Keiichi Hara is in town to introduce the UK premiere of his Miss Hokusai, while I shall be fronting the UK premiere of Ryotaro Makihara’s Empire of Corpses, the steampunk epic based on the novel by Project Itoh and Toh Enjoe. I’m also looking forward to Production I.G’s latest Ghost in the Shell (another UK premiere) and the studio’s own self-inflicted competition over the same genre ground in Psycho-Pass: The Movie (which is, in case you hadn’t guessed, a UK premiere).
Behind the scenes, I shall be speaking about the state of the anime industry, both at the Edinburgh Education Day and in a pop-up lecture in Nottingham next Monday. I shall also be chairing the jury in Edinburgh as four opinion-formers argue over the conferral of this year’s
Golden Partridge Judges’ Award. Shunji Iwai has a film in competition, and almost everybody is liable to be distracted by the Attack on Titan quadruple-bill (two anime movies and two live-action), but I’ll make sure the jury is in the right place at the right time.