Finally, BFI’s two-month ANIME season is here to entertain and captivate all of us anime enthusiasts and newbies alike. From March 28 through May 31, 2022, the British Film Institute’s Anime season will offer more than 40 titles from a broad range of anime genres, including contemporary, fantasy, and otherworldly tales.
Viewers will be able to also learn & discover historical anime works alongside movies by current auteurs and a modest but increasingly significant group of women working in anime who are helping push the medium into the twenty-first century.
Check out the programme below to discover what Anime you’d like to see!
Bring a friend along and enjoy 2-4-1 tickets for ALL FILMS and events in the season – simply use discount code Anime241
Anime Season Programme Overview
- New Anime Releases Including the thrillingly original INU-OH (2021), high-octane urban fairy tale Bubbe (2022) and the powerful and thought-provoking short Summer Ghost (2021) followed by a Q&A with director loundraw.
- Contemporary Anime Auteurs Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children, Belle), Makoto Shinkai (Your Name) and the late great Satoshi Kon (Millenium Actress, Paprika).
- Emerging Female Talent Naoko Yamada (A Silent voice, Liz and the Blue Bird) and Mari Okada (Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms).
- The Anime Classics Such as Akira(1988), Ghost in the Shell (1995), Belladonna of Sadness (1973), Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001) and Tekkonkinkreet (2006), as well as early shorts spotlighting work from 1917-1946.
- Studio Ghibli All the favourites, along with free workshops for children, as well as early pre-Ghibli work from Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.
- Beyond the Screenings & Special Events Including a discussion with experts about the films in the season and a day of Japanese gaming, presented by mayamada GamePad.
- The History of Anime A selection of key films in the development of the anime art form, both in terms of quality and international recognition.
- Anime Playing at BFI IMAX Audiences wanting the biggest possible screen experience should head to the largest screen in Britain, BFI IMAX, where a number of screenings will take place.
New Anime Releases
Previews of hotly anticipated new releases will include Summer Ghost (2021), the directorial debut of acclaimed designer-illustrator loundraw, who is tipped as ‘the one to watch’ in a new generation of anime filmmakers.
A group of high-school students light fireworks in the hope of awaking the ghost of a young woman who has been sighted over several years; each of the friends has a reason for being there, and on one night, the living and the dead are joined together.
The preview of this powerful theatrical short on the 13th of May will be followed by a Q&A with director loundraw.
There will be a preview of INU-OH (Masaaki Yuasa, 2021) on the 30th of March, a thrillingly original film that boasts some astonishing sequences. In 12th-century Japan, the Heike people lost their battle against fellow samurai clan the Genji and went into hiding.
Their stories were preserved by priests and Noh performers who shared them widely; a couple of centuries later, Inu-oh befriends a blind musician and together they challenge prejudice and create contemporary, ground-breaking performances that shake-up years of tradition.
On the 20th of April there will be a preview of Bubble (Tetsurô Araki, 2022) – after mysterious bubbles rain down, a huge explosion results in a massive dome enclosing Tokyo.
Many years later, graffiti-ridden, deserted and decaying, and illegally occupied by ‘the orphans of the bubble fall’, the city’s dangerous landscape is treated by its disaffected youth as their own assault course.
Contemporary Anime Auteurs
The season will feature a focus on a trio of contemporary auteurs who have successfully created work to rival that of the likes of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata – Satoshi Kon, Makoto Shinkai and Mamoru Hosoda.
Satoshi Kon’s films are known for playing with notions of reality and fiction and blurring boundaries.
By the time of his death at the age of 46, he left a body of legitimate classics behind, including the smart and stylish critique of celebrity fandom Perfect Blue (1997), Millenium Actress (2001), which pays homage to many great Japanese films, the Christmas-set comedy-drama Tokyo Godfathers (2003) and Kon’s final film, the visually stunning Paprika (2006).
Makoto Shinkai is a significant talent who had global success on an unprecedented scale with his hit Your Name (screening in BFI IMAX alongside Weathering With You). The BFI will also screen his debut feature The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004) set in an alternative post-war Japan where half the country is governed by the US and the other by ‘the union’.
There will also be a Shinkai double bill featuring his second feature 5 Centimeters per Second (2007) and The Garden of Words (2013), a delightful short that plays with the traditional Japanese definition of love, a ‘lonely sadness’.
Mamoru Hosoda continues to surprise and delight with every new film – a selection of his work screening will include the award-winning The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006); dazzling sci-fi Summer Wars (2009), about a maths genius who inadvertently activates a deviant AI; the beguiling Wolf Children (2012) about a woman who falls in love with a mysterious man with the blood of both man and wolf; and recent hit Belle (2021), a magical voyage into a breath-taking universe.
Emerging Female Talent
A Silent Voice
Thought-provoking, beautifully characterised work from emerging female voices screening in the season include Naoko Yamada’s intelligent and sensitive drama A Silent Voice (2016) about a high- school student experiencing hearing loss, who is bullied and forced to transfer to another school.
She later crosses paths with one of the bullies who, in turn, has been victimised and is racked with guilt and desperate for forgiveness.
Liz and the Blue Bird
Yamada’s follow-up, Liz and the Blue Bird (2018), presents parallel stories in the form of a fairy tale about a lonely girl who becomes enamoured with a blue bird that takes human form; a tale that’s subsequently turned into a musical piece performed by a school band.
Band members Mizori and Nosomi’s deteriorating friendship comes under the microscope in this compelling, character-driven film.
The Anthem of the Heart
By Tatsuyuki Nagai, the story follows Jun, who goes from being an outgoing, excitable young girl to a withdrawn, silent one after a shocking discovery led to her parent’s break-up. Years later, still unable to speak, Jun discovers that she’s able to sing.
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
Written by anime writing sensation Mari Okada, this is a beautifully orchestrated drama. Okada writes and makes her directorial debut with this high-fantasy drama; lonely Maquia is from a clan who stop ageing in their mid-teens – her life changes forever when an army invades, searching for the clan’s secret to immortality.
The Anime Classics
Classics screening in the season will include Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise (Hiroyuki Yamaga, 1987) about a would-be astronaut who joins a small, disenfranchised group, the Royal Space Force; the classic precursor to the Ghost in the Shell series Patlabor: The Movie (Mamoru Oshii, 1989) and Patlabor 2: The Movie (Mamoru Oshii, 1993); and the feature version of the successful anime TV series Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (Shin’ichirô Watanabe, 2001).
As well as screenings of Akira (Katsuhiro Ôtomo, 1988) in the BFI IMAX, the season will include Memories (Kôji Morimoto, Tensai Okamura, Katsuhiro Ôtomo, 1995), a trio of sci-fi stories based on the manga by Ôtomo, each using different animation styles to tell their tales and Steamboy (2004), his first major release since AKIRA, a steampunk anime set in an alternative 1863, during the lead-up to the Great Exhibition in 1866.
Completing this section of the programme will be screenings of Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa (Seiji Mizushima, 2005), Tekkonkinkreet (Michael Arias, 2006) and The Case of Hana & Alice (Shunji Iwai, 2015).
For many filmgoers in the West, anime is all about Studio Ghibli and the incredible body of work helmed by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. This season would be incomplete without screenings of some of their best-loved films like Spirited Away (2001), Princess Mononoke (1997), Grave of the Fireflies (1988), When Marnie Was There (2014) and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013).
BFI Southbank’s monthly Family Funday, which features a free workshop for children prior to screening, will be inspired by My Neighbor Totoro (1988) on the 24th of April and Castle in the Sky (1986) on the 8th of May.
Completing the season will be early pre-Ghibli work from Miyazaki and Takahata – the magical fantasy adventure set in Iron Age Norway – The Little Norse Prince (1968) and Miyazaki’s first feature as director Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979), featuring the roguish gentleman thief Lupin III.
Beyond the Screenings & Special Events
Exploring Anime: Panel Discussion
The special event on the 31st of March features experts who will explore what anime is, its history and origins, and how it’s viewed both within Japan and internationally.
The talk will also highlight key themes from the season, including emerging female voices in the medium, while also foregrounding a few of the classic titles screening.
Ticket holders to screenings on the 1st of May will be given free admission to a day-long drop-in GamePad Event, featuring video games, cosplay and prizes.
The fantastic line-up of games that audiences will be able to try includes fighting games such as Tekken 7 and Dragonball FighterZ, co-op games like Taiko: Drum Master and Just Dance, and fan-favourites Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros.
The History of Anime
Featuring the Early Days of Anime Shorts’ programme (1917-1946), a collection of rarely seen anime shorts, offering audiences an opportunity to look at the way the form evolved over the early, formative days of cinema.
Divine Sea Warriors
All prints of the first anime feature ever made, the WWII Propaganda film Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors (Mitsuyo Seo, 1945), was meant to be destroyed by occupying forces, but a copy of the film and survived, and after being unseen for decades was restored. Mitsuyo Seo drew inspiration from Disney’s Fantasia to tell the story of a young monkey, bear, puppy and pheasant who rise through the ranks of the animal navy to save Asia from Western colonisation.
Belladonna of Sadness
Unseen for many years until its recent restoration, Belladonna of Sadness (Eiichi Yamamoto, 1973) is an explicit revenge drama based on Jules Michelet’s book La sorcière. In this harrowing story, a feudal lord in the middle-ages commits a terrible crime against a couple of newlyweds; although the film is explicit and troubling, it remains a true anime classic, combining vivid watercolours with artistic influences such as Gustav Klimt.
Numerous episodes of the great Osamu Tezuka’s anime creation Astroboy (1980), will be screened. It made its debut in 1963, based on Tezuka’s 1950s manga about a peace-loving, nuclear-powered boy robot.
Many of the stories were remade in the 80s in colour. The Anime season takes a look at some episodes from the 1980s re-boot series which show the genesis of the character. The episodes BFI will be screening in this programme are: The Birth of Astro Boy, Frankenstein and The Greatest Robot in the World (Parts 1 & 2).
Kimba and The White Lion
Three episodes of Kimba and The White Lion(1965), based on the hit manga about a young lion cub, will be screened. The episodes that will be screened in the programme are: Ep1 Go Child of Panja, Ep4 Samson, The Wild Ox and Ep41 Wandering Death Gods. The BFI will be screening the English dubbed version as the subtitled versions are unavailable.
Anime Playing at BFI IMAX
Screenings will include classics of the genres like Katsuhiro Ôtomo’s striking, hyperkinetic adaptation of his own manga, the seminal Akira; the beautifully animated and disturbingly prophetic Ghost in the Shell and Satoshi Kon’s Millenium Actress.
More recent titles will include a pair of blockbuster hits Your Name (2016) and Weathering With You (2019), Belle (2021) and Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata’s final film, the Oscar-nominated The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013).