Festival aims to give anime universal appeal



The Asia Center and the UK Library are jointly showing three films over the course of two days as part of The Anime Film Festival.

“Paprika,” directed by Satoshi Kon, will be the first movie shown. It will play at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the William T. Young auditorium. Two more films will be shown Thursday. All showings are free.

The film festival intends to promote Japanese culture and anime films as part of the Arts Asia Festival, which runs from Nov. 6 to Nov. 13.

“It’s three films from three different directors who personify what the art style of Japanese animation is,” Anime Club President Zach Walton said. “It will ease people in who aren’t used to the style.”

UK libraries have been acquiring films and comic books over the past year and the  showcase lends the opportunity to show the new material, which is now part of the Asian collection at UK Libraries.

“We wanted to buy materials for classes, but also for students to enjoy whenever they wanted,” said Hioki Kazuko, liaison librarian for Asian Studies.

“Spirited Away” will also be shown as a part of the film festival on Nov. 11 at 6:30 p.m. followed by “Ghost in the Shell”  at 9:15 p.m.

“Spirited Away,” the second film in the lineup, won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2002. It was the first Japanese animated film to win the award. All three films are popular in Japan and some say they speak to all audiences.

“All the films are artistically sophisticated,” Kazuko said. “They all have universal themes that can speak to anyone. And they are well-known films and directors.”

Walton agreed the movies were carefully chosen to appeal to a broad audience.

“It’s more about the mass appeal that can really go across the culture gap,” Walton said.

The festival is intended for long-time fans of anime as well as people with little to no background.

“These films are appealing to everybody,” Kazuko said. “They can reach out to a new audience, and we hope the festival can do that.”

The films will be shown in their original Japanese language with English subtitles.

Kazuko hopes the depth and complexity of the films will help dispel the perception that Japanese films are intended for young audiences.

The Anime Club will  host a panel discussion on the films and Japanese anime as a whole on Thursday, Nov. 11 at 8:45 p.m.

Kazuko has also established a “Manga Corner,” which is a bookshelf full of Japanese “manga,” or anime comics. Titles include Nana, Pluto, Monster, Slam Dunk and Monster.

The festival is part of Arts Asia Festival 2010, which runs Nov. 6-13.