Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity (or rather, the time) to write this post yesterday, as I was too busy writing my review for UK Anime of the highlight of Edinburgh's final day of Scotland Loves Anime - The European premiere of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, and what a fine three hours of movie-going they were too. Anyhow, the good news is that The Disappearance of Andy Hanley is almost at an end, as I'm writing this on the train home at which point I will start the mammoth task of working through my anime watching backlog. The things I do to myself.... Anyhow, on with a few brief comments on my final day in Scotland's capital city.
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya - As just mentioned, I've already reviewed this movie more thoroughly for UK Anime, so you're better off checking out that piece if you want my more comprehensive thoughts. That aside, all that really needs to be said is that this is a triumphant return to form for the anime that went badly off the rails with Endless Eight and its second season in general with a few exceptions. A smart yet fun and entertaining storyline went a long way towards this success, but perhaps more importantly said story leveraged the show's major characters fantastically well - with Nagato in particular having a lot to gain while Kyon's quips and one-liners were perfectly placed to keep things moving.
Making a three hour movie feel like it was only ninety minutes or so long is quite an achievement, but it's one that Kyoto Animation pulled off with relative ease here, complete with their characteristic visual aplomb (and even one scene that looked more like SHAFT than KyoAni territory).
No doubt this movie will be available to the masses by Christmas (and very likely before) if you're willing to go down the fansub route, but trust me - it'll be worth the wait.
Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not Advance) - I've already talked about Evangelion to death, and I've discussed the 2.22 release right here on this 'blog, so there's really nothing more for me to say here other than pointing out that this movie is as awesome at the fourth time of watching it as the first. Seeing Evangelion on the big screen is certainly a great experience too, and thankfully Edinburgh had a far better to transfer to hand than the BFI in London did earlier this year - put simply, it was digital versus analogue, so no surprises who won there.
Akira - Last bit not least is a classic that probably requires no description; if you haven't seen Akira, then something is seriously wrong. That said, on the way in to see this screening of the film I did meet a guy who lived and was brought up in Japan, and he was an anime fan, yet this was his first time seeing the movie!
Anyhow, after picking up my jaw from the floor at that revelation came my biggest disappointment of the whole event - rather than using the shiny new, remastered transfer available via the film's Blu-Ray release, we were instead stuck with good old fashioned film reels from the movie's original UK screenings which took place god knows when. As a result, parts of those reels were effectively torn to shreds in terms of popping, crackling, dirt and dust, which combined with some decidedly ropey subtitles took away a lot of the excitement of seeing the film on the big screen.
Sure, it's still Akira, so it's always worth watching just one more time, but if only this film had been given the love, attention and viewing experience it deserved here. Just to make things worse, the festival's Art of Akira exhibition was taken down a whole day too early, meaning that I missed that too. Gah! I did get to take a quick peek at the Disappearance of Haruhi cels and sketches that were on show though, which made up for that disappointment somewhat I suppose.
Altogether though, this was one absolutely fantastic weekend, and something that I'd urge UK fans to look out for in future years - surely there will be future Scotland Loves Anime events too, considering how every movie was either sold out or pretty close to it, with Redline oddly being the worst attended movie of the bunch.
There's something about the shared viewing experience of watching a film with a couple of hundred other like-minded people that simply can't be beaten, whether it's staring bug-eyed at the vibrant insanity of Redline or laughing at the unintentional hilarity of Professor Layton's English dub, building up to the shared excitement and tension of that Haruhi premiere. Perhaps even more satisfying is being able to chat to those other like-minded fans before and after the screenings (often during the pre-film commercials which were identical every. Damned. Time. If I see that kid spouting crap about Willy Wonka to try and sell Volkswagens one more time...) - new friends were made, great discussions were had and amusing anecdotes were shared.
Weekends like this are why I'm an anime fan - compelling content, and great people to share it with. Hopefully we can all do it again next year!