NY Int'l Children's Film Fest Screens Children of the Sea, On-Gaku: Our Sound, Magic Boy Anime

posted on by Jennifer Sherman
NYICFF's "Friends & Neighbors" initiative also highlights Japanese shorts

The New York International Children's Film Festival (NYICFF) revealed on Friday that this year's event will host the East Coast premiere of Children of the Sea on February 21 and the United States premiere of East Coast premiere of On-Gaku: Our Sound on February 22. The festival will also screen the Magic Boy anime film on February 29 and the East Coast premiere of the live-action Bento Harassment film on February 23. NYICFF will hold additional screenings of all of these films.

Japan is the focus of NYICFF's "Friends & Neighbors" initiative this year. The festival's lineup of Japanese shorts will include the world premiere of Koji Yamamura's "Dreams into Drawing" anime, as well as the stop-motion animated short "Gon, the Little Fox" and "manga-style" short "Onomatopoeia Rap." The shorts will have screenings on February 29, March 1, and March 7.

This year's NYICFF will be held at six venues in New York City from February 21 to March 15.

Children of the Sea opened in Japan on June 7 and ranked at #5 in its opening weekend. The film earned a cumulative total of 316,860,800 yen (about US$2.95 million) as of June 23. GKIDS will screen the film theatrically in North America in Japanese and English in 2020. The film screened at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in June in the festival's new Contrechamp category. The anime screened in competition for The Ottawa International Animation Festival's (OIAF) Grand Prize for Features award in September. The film was submitted for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category for the 92nd Academy Awards, but no anime films received nominations.

The anime is based on Daisuke Igarashi's manga of the same name. Viz Media published the manga in English, and it describes the story:

When Ruka was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works. Now she feels drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora. They were raised by dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea as she does.

Ruka's dad and the other adults who work at the aquarium are only distantly aware of what the children are experiencing as they get caught up in the mystery of the worldwide disappearance of the oceans' fish.

Joe Hisaishi of Studio Ghibli fame composed the music for the film. Ayumu Watanabe (Space Brothers, After the Rain) directed the film, and Kenichi Konishi (Tokyo Godfathers, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya) was the animation director and character designer.

On-Gaku: Our Sound, the anime film adaptation of Hiroyuki Ohashi's "Ongaku" manga, opened in Japan on January 11. The film ranked at #3 in the mini-theater ranking in its opening weekend.

The film won the Grand Prize for Feature Animation award at the Ottawa International Animation Festival on September 28. The film also competed in the sixth annual New Chitose Airport International Animation Festival in the festival's Featured Animation Competition category in November.

Ohashi originally self-published "Ongaku" in 2005, and it tells the story of young delinquents who decide to start a rock band despite never having touched instruments before.

Toei Animation's Magic Boy anime film debuted in Japan in December 1959. The film debuted in theaters in the United States in June 1961, and it became the first anime ever to have a theatrical release in North America. Warner Bros. released the film on DVD in North America in 2014.

Warner Bros. describes the film:

Magically gifted boy Sasuke lives in peace, deep in the forest with his animal pals and Oyu, his elder sister. After their forest sanctuary is violated by a demon witch who devours one of Sasuke's animal companions, Sasuke vows vengeance. Leaving the forest, he sets out to master his magical gifts, making a pilgrimage to the home of the wizard Hakuunsai. While Sasuke learns the ways of magic, Yakusha, the demon witch, terrorizes the countryside, and Sasuke works to complete his training in time. Magic Boy, aka Shōnen Sarutobi Sasuke, is a classic piece of anime history - the first full- length animated feature produced in japan to reach the shores of the United States. With much of the original storyline left untouched and centering on pop culture staple hero Sarutobi Sasuke (think of Bomba the Jungle Boy crossed with a ninja), Magic Boy is an enchanting precursor to decades of imported Japanese ani-magic.

Akira Daikubara (Doggie March) and Taiji Yabushita (The White Snake) directed the film as Toei Animation's second theatrical anime. Kazuo Dan provided the story, and Michihei Muramatsu and Toppei Matsumura wrote the scripts. Daikubara and Hideo Furusawa designed the characters.

Sources: Email correspondence, NYICFF's website and Facebook page

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