Good day dear readers and welcome to my review of Scotland Loves Anime 2020! Over the last month I’ve had the pleasure of watching many films that were shown online by the festival and now I have the great pleasure of sharing my thoughts on these films with you! So sit back and come join me for a romp through this year’s films and hopefully find some new titles that you want to watch.
As I wrote before, this year’s event was going to be a bit different from normal as physical screenings couldn’t happen. The few screenings they had planned were all very sadly cancelled because of fast-changing virus rules. That didn’t stop the awesome teams at Loves Animation and Screen Anime putting on a terrific bunch of films for us though and I want to say a huge thank you to everyone involved for making this happen in the most difficult of circumstances. You guys know how much the community appreciates you but this year we mean it even more ❤️
This year’s event was different in other ways too, as it was quite focussed on two particular anime franchises – Lupin III and Love Live! I was not familiar with either of these before the start of the festival but it is safe to say I am now a nailed-on fan of both.
It was not just Love Live! and Lupin III titles though. There was a great selection of films on offer, including some old favourites and some lesser known titles. I will admit that I didn’t even manage to watch everything (I skipped Weathering With You and Pengiun Highway as I’d seen them both recently), but what I did watch was all thoroughly enjoyable. So let’s get straight to my thoughts!
So! Lupin III! I knew nothing of this master thief before watching these films, and knew even less of the series’ weird link with Persona 5 through Maurice LeBlanc’s gentleman thief Arsène Lupin (who just so happens to be Lupin III’s grandfather). The Persona 5 connection does not end there, but I’ll save that for a later article. There were five Lupin III films on show here and all were enjoyable in their own way.
The first was The Secret of Mamo, a film from 1978 which was half enjoyable crime romp and half sci-fi madness. It was very entertaining and a nice intro to the characters for me. Speaking of the characters, there are quite a few important characters and perhaps strangely (or perhaps not…) I generally found myself drawn to all the characters that aren’t Lupin. Take from that what you will!
Anyway, the next film I watched was a crossover film – Lupin III vs Detective Conan: The Movie. This again was entertaining, but being relatively unfamiliar with both franchises was perhaps a bit lost on me.
My favourite films of the Lupin III focus were probably the trilogy of shorter films that came after the anime series The Woman Called Fujiko Mine (which was also showing at Scotland Loves Anime but very sadly I didn’t have time to watch). The three films were each dedicated to a different member of Lupin’s ‘crew’, and culminated in a piece about Fujiko herself which I felt was by far the strongest of all the Lupin III films. It had a compelling yet straightforward story and did a great job of filling out Fujiko’s character whilst not breaking her aura of mystery.
Love Live! is all about school idol groups and there were two feature films based on the series showing at Scotland Loves Anime this year. As with Lupin III, I had never seen any Love Live! previously but from the start of the first film – Love Live! The School Idol Movie – I knew I was going to love it. High school girls who are part of an award winning school idol group have one last hurrah before going their own ways. They indulge in a little foray to New York and then return to perform the show of their lives. What could be better than that? The girls have great personalities, the songs are good fun and the whole thing is incredibly smiley and cute. I loved it! The second film, Love Live! Sunshine!! The School Idol Movie: Over the Rainbow, is as the title suggests, a slightly over-blown version of the first film, using a lot of the same ideas but slightly less coherently. It was still very enjoyable but overall I’d recommend giving the first one your attention. I would also note that the two series on which the films are based are available on Crunchyroll, so if you want the films to make sense you might want to check those out first – I can’t wait to start watching them!
Now this film is a bit of a Scotland Loves Anime classic, having previously been shown in 2013 and winning both the audience and jury awards that year. I however wasn’t at Scotland Loves Anime 2013 so this was my first time seeing it, and believe me it was worth the wait! What a wonderful and compelling film! It tells the story of a girl named Patema and her struggles against a world that is literally upside down. It is some feat from the film’s creators to have achieved something that flows so perfectly from two opposite points of view (both figuratively and literally), and the world and its characters are intriguing and memorable. I would highly recommend giving this one a watch if you can!
Short Film Collection from Production I.G
This was a series of five short films that have come out of the anime studio Production I.G over the last decade or so. Although shown as one feature, these five films are all very different propositions so I’ll look at them each individually, but suffice to say they were a mixed bag in terms of how much I liked them!
This short had actually shown before at Scotland Loves Anime and on both occasions I’ve seen it I enjoyed it very much, although it is not an easy watch. It is a strange film in a way because it deals with some very tough issues, but is presented in an almost jovial way, with most of the dialogue being between inanimate objects like toothbrushes and clothes pegs instead of focusing on the voices of the human characters. This does not stop the themes of the film being quite devastating though and in fact probably just adds to the atmosphere. It is within quite simple scenes that the weight of this film is carried, and it is a credit to the film’s creators just how emotionally moving they can make something as simple as a balloon.
Not entirely sure how to describe this but I didn’t particularly enjoy it. There was something kind of grotesque about it that isn’t really my style. It somehow combined wrestling with an orphanage and a nun with a secret identity. It wasn’t a bad concept I suppose, just not executed in a way I enjoyed.
Li’l Spider Girl
This horror film about a cute yet utterly terrifying spider child was definitely my favourite of the five. It was tense, compelling and terrifying all the way to the end. The end itself was also quite special and left you feeling decidedly cold and shocked. I love horror and often bemoan the fact I can’t find enough good horror anime, so if you’re in the same boat then make sure you check this one out!
This was a really odd one. It had a great deal of charm, a good sense of humour and likeable characters, but somehow once it finished I was left with a sense of revulsion at how hideously traditional its message was. The message itself seemed to be that us girls shouldn’t be going out drinking with our friends and coming to work hungover. Oh no! We should be learning to cook and clean and be responsible because at some point in our lives we will inevitably have certain roles to fulfil. Just yuck!
Oval x Over
This was fast and brightly coloured and over before I had any clue what was going on. I’m not sure if it was because by this point I had drank a whole fridge of beer, but I don’t really remember there being terribly much to this one. It tells the story of a group of racing drivers and their strange personalitys and ambitions. It was interesting in a way but perhaps a little too short to make a lasting impression.
And that was that! I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the films this year, and although it was all a bit different and less intense because of the online element, I will admit that I came away from Scotland Loves Anime 2020 as I always do – educated, entertained, happy and sad. Pandemic or not Scotland Loves Anime always has a lasting effect on your mind and heart and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry just a little bit when Dr Jonathan Clements signed off for this year in his introduction to the Production I.G films. Having a strong focus was an interesting move, but I think that it worked as it let me get to know and enjoy a whole new thing over a longer period of time and I’d be interested to see if they do something similar in the future.
So that was my Scotland Loves Anime 2020! Did any of you get involved in the festival this year or have you seen any of these films before? Let me know what you think below in comments and to all of you I normally see at the GFT, I am already counting down the days until I see you there again.
Thanks for reading,