Free online Japanese Film Festival offers opportunity to catch an anime classic

The Japan Foundation’s JFF+ has just launched its global Japanese Film Festival Online 2024, to provide a selection of Japanese films streaming online. The third edition of the festival will be held in a record-breaking 27 countries and regions, excluding Japan.

In the UK, until 3rd July, you’ll be able to watch 18 Japanese films (first two weeks) and two television drama series (second two weeks) popular in Japan. The full program can be found here on this dedicated UK web page on the Festival’s official site.

The films to be distributed include We Made a Beautiful Bouquet, which was released in Japan in 2021 and was a big hit among young people, and Baby Assassins (2021), the film that took Japanese social media by storm (its third installment is scheduled to be released in Japan this autumn).

Other highlights are School Meals Time Graduation (2022) and The Zen Diary (2022), both of which showcase Japan’s delicious food culture, as well as the world premiere of the 4K digitally remastered theatrical version of Jungle Emperor Leo, aka Kimba the White Lion, a classic anime based on Tezuka Osamu’s manga masterpiece.

The 2022 live-action drama, Anime Supremacy!, set in the world of animation production, is also included.

In addition, two TV drama series will be available for the first time: Downtown Rocket and RIKUOH. These moving human dramas about diligent, hardworking people chasing big dreams became instant hits when they were released in Japan.

Promotional videos of the festivaltrailers and message videos from the directors are available on the official JFF+ YouTube channel. In addition, there will be various events taking place around the world during the festival. Details can be found on the official website.

“In the midst of an evolving social situation in post-pandemic Japan and following the resounding success of the Academy Award–winning Godzilla Minus One and The Boy and the Heron, we have carefully selected titles that we are sure will resonate with audiences around the world,” said Konomi Masafumi, JFF Producer.

“This year, the Japanese Film Festival Online will distribute films and TV dramas to a record number of countries and regions and in a variety of languages to help share Japanese film with the overseas market.”

Jungle Emperor Leo

A work by the god of Japanese manga, Tezuka Osamu, an important pioneer of Japanese manga, Jungle Emperor Leo is a story about a white lion who fights to protect the peace of the jungle. 

In 1950, Jungle Emperor Leo began as Tezuka’s first long-form manga project as a serial in a magazine. It later became an animated TV series, captivating the entire nation and laying the foundation for Japanese manga culture. This feature animation adaptation was groundbreaking for its dynamic depictions of animals, vibrant colour schemes, humor, poetic elements, and an overflowing musical score. It has been an enduring masterpiece that not only delivers a universal message of peace but also has continued to exert a profound influence on future artists.

In 1994, with the release of The Lion King, similarities between it and Jungle Emperor Leo were pointed out, sparking a significant debate in media from both Japan and the United States.

Director Yamamoto Eichi joined Mushi Production, a studio established by Osamu Tezuka in 1961, as a founding member. He was involved in production and script writing for a lot of animation works including Astro Boy and Jungle Emperor. He also directed One Thousand and One Nights, Cleopatra, and Belladonna of Sadness, the Animerama trilogy series targeted for adult audience, and was well-known for his script for Space Battleship Yamato.

Full details about this film as part of Japanese Film Festival Online 2024 here

Anime Supremacy!

A rookie female director goes to battle with a genius director coming out with his latest anime! This is a delightful story about the people putting their lives on the line to produce anime.

Hitomi switched careers to join an animation production company, where she spent years working her way up the ladder and finally gets to direct an anime series. However, she has to win the cooperation of stubborn craftsman-like staff to create an anime to her satisfaction. Moreover, the producer is focused on the bottom line and cuts no slack for newbie Hitomi. Plus, her anime occupies the same timeslot as the hotly anticipated new anime from Chiharu, a revered genius director. Hitomi feels crushed by the pressure, but the seemingly confident Chiharu also feels the weight of everyone’s expectations…

This exciting drama is a live-action movie, and yet it amply captures the fascination of anime through the two directors’ unique story worlds and behind-the-scenes introductions to the work of numerous people on the production staff. Don’t miss this duel between two leading young actors, namely Yoshioka Riho playing the hard-working Hitomi and Nakamura Tomoya as the princely genius Chiharu. Plus, top creators including Production I.G produced the anime sequences in the film.

Born in 1979 in Osaka Prefecture, director Yoshino Kohei won a Special Jury Prize at the Pia Film Festival for A Tale of Night (2000), and a Sonje Award Special Mention at the 16th Busan International Film Festival for his short, DIY Encouragement (2011). He worked as a commercial planner and music video director before working on the animated film your name (2016) as a CG artist, and subsequently made his feature film directorial debut with Gone Wednesday (2020). Yoshino was chosen as one of 100 “Japanese Motion Graphic Creators” in 2019, a project recognising the next generation of visual media creators.

Full details about this film as part of Japanese Film Festival Online 2024 here

The full program can be found here on this dedicated UK web page on the Festival’s official site

With thanks to Paul Gravett

Categories: Animation, Comics, Digital Media, downthetubes News, Film, Other Worlds, Television

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