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Blue Thermal Included in 2023 Japan Touring Film Programme

posted on by Andrew Osmond
The film programme will run in February and March, and also includes several live-action films related to manga

There will be a touring programme of Japanese films from February 3 to March 31 2023. The programme includes the anime film Blue Thermal, as well as several live-action films related to manga (see below).

The film is based on Kana Ozawa's Blue Thermal -Aonagi Daigaku Taiiku-kai Kōkū-bu- (Aonagi College Sports Festival Aviation Club) manga. Masaki Tachibana (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, Barakamon, Princess Principal) directed the film at Telecom Animation Film, and also penned the script alongside Natsuko Takahashi (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, My Love Story!!, Farewell, My Dear Cramer). Toei is distributing the film. The film's story is described as follows at The Japan Foundation website:

"Tamaki, a university fresher from Nagasaki, is determined to have a fairy-tale romance in Tokyo by joining the right student club. However, Tamaki ends up joining the aviation club after damaging their prized glider. Far from the university life that Tamaki had dreamed of, she is at first reluctant to attend the training sessions, but gradually discovers a fascination towards flying. One day, during a joint training session with another university, she meets her estranged sister, Chizuru. Knowing that her sister remains cold towards her and feeling the pressure at her first tournament, Tamaki loses her confidence and becomes doubtful about herself.

"With the world of aviation providing an unusual setting, this coming-of-age animation is a successful collaboration between respectable creators and voice actors. The film is like a ‘Blue Thermal’ – an updraft that occurs under a blue sky which pushes a glider higher. This beautiful work with its spectacular depiction of the sky captures the ever-moving emotion of Tamaki tenderly."

The Blue Thermal screening details will be put up here. As of writing, it's confirmed that the anime film will be shown at the following venues: Aberystwyth Arts Centre (February 3); ICA London (February 12, 3.20 p.m.); Plymouth Arts Centre (February 23);QUAD, Derby (February 26); Tyneside, Newcastle (March 1); Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast (March 11); Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, (March 16); Dundee Contemporary Arts (March 18); Broadway, Nottingham (March 18); Phoenix, Leicester (March 25); and Storyhouse, Chester (March 25).

The other screenings in the programme include a live-action film version of Waka Hirako's My Broken Mariko. Yuki Tanada directed the film after writing the script with Kōsuke Mukai. Yen Press released the manga as a deluxe hardcover book in November 2020. The 24th Japan Media Arts Festival Awards awarded the manga with its New Face Award in 2021.

The film's story is described on The Japan Foundation website:

"Tomoyo, an overworked office worker, finds out that her best friend, Mariko, has committed suicide. Having failed to help her friend, Tomoyo feels powerless and unable to process what has happened. Mariko had suffered years of mistreatment at the hands of her father ever since she was a child, and then was in a relationship with an abusive boyfriend. Tomoyo learns that Mariko's ashes are at her father's place and decides to recapture the remains. After stealing Mariko's ashes, Tomoyo is determined to do anything she can for her friend who was deprived of everything her whole life. Trapped in a whirlwind of memories, she takes the ashes to the beach where Mariko had always dreamed of visiting. This is their first and final journey together—a journey to enable Tomoyo's broken Mariko be free at last."

The My Broken Mariko screening details will be put up here. As of writing, it's confirmed that the film will be shown at the following venues: Watershed, Bristol (February 7); ICA London (February 11, 6 pm); Depot, Birmingham (February 22); Cameo, Edinburgh (March 2); Midlands Art Centre (March 10); Warwick Arts Centre (March 13); Phoenix, Leicester (March 16); Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast (March 18).

The Japan Foundation programme also includes the live-action film adaptation of Kaori Tsurutani's BL Metamorphosis (Metamorphose no Engawa) manga. The film is described on The Japan Foundation website:

"Seventeen-year-old Urara has a dull high school life. Her only pastime and passion is reading Boys Love (BL) manga, which she keeps a secret. Working part-time at a book shop, she one day meets an elderly woman, Yuki. Yuki has lost her husband and has been living alone ever since. Not knowing what BL is, she unwittingly buys a copy of a BL manga because of its pretty cover. First embarrassed but then gradually fascinated by what she finds inside, Yuki heads back to the bookstore to buy the next volume. Having BL as their common interest, Urara kindly offers to help Yuki dive into the rabbit hole. The two soon forget their fifty-eight year age difference and form an unexpected friendship along the way.

"A heart-warming film about two lonely women with a huge age gap between them and from cultural backgrounds, who come together to find friendship and a new sense of self. Released in 2022, the film received many positive responses, especially from the BL fandom – a distinctive manga genre which has a large female readership in Japan."

Mana Ashida stars in the film as Urara, while Nobuko Miyamoto stars as Ichinoi. Additional cast members include Naniwa Danshi's Kyōhei Takahashi, Kotone Furukawa, Tomoko Ikuta, Ken Mitsuishi, Yuki Shioya, Taeko Itō, Asumi Kikuchi, and Shūtarō Ōoka.

Shunsuke Kariyama directed the film, with a script by Yoshikazu Okada. Hidehiro Kawano, Yutaka Tanito, and Hiroko Ōgura are credited as producers. Both Tsurutani and BL manga creator Janome drew the BL manga that appeared within the film. Seven Seas Entertainment has released the manga in English. The manga topped the list of manga for female readers in the 2019 edition of Takarajimasha's Kono Manga ga Sugoi! guidebook. The manga ranked sixth in the 12th Manga Taisho in 2019, and also earned the New Face Award in the 22nd Japan Media Arts Festival Awards in 2019.

The BL Metamorpohosis screening details will be put up here. As of writing, it's confirmed that the film will be shown at the following venues: Aberystwyth Arts Centre (February 6); ICA London (February 7, 6.15 p.m.); Showroom Cinema, Sheffield (February 21); Phoenix, Leicester (February 28); Plymouth Arts Centre (March 9); Howard Theatre, Downing College, Cambridge (March 19).

The Japan Film Programme will also include the film Sensei, Would You Sit Beside Me?, in which a manga is central to the story; the film also features comic artwork by Aki Arata and Akane Torikai. The story is described on The Japan Foundation site as follows:

"Manga artist Sawako has been married to her husband, Toshio, for five years. But Toshio is secretly having an affair with Sawako's editor, Chika (Nao). One day, peeping at Sawako's new manga about adultery, he is mentally trapped by the thought that his wife might have found out his secret. The manga story then unfolds to show Sawako having a love affair with a younger driving instructor. Is this manga a complete fantasy? Toshio trembles with fear and jealousy, and so begins the comical game of cat and mouse.

"A truly deceptive film which is not nearly as sweet as its title suggests. It depicts a marriage on the verge of rampage and an outrageous of psychological war, where truth and fantasy intertwine with a twist that hurtles the viewer towards a surprising ending. Another highlight of this film is the glimpses into the creative process of Japanese manga artwork."

The screening details will be put up here. As of writing, it's confirmed that the film will be shown at the following venues:

Showroom Cinema, Sheffield (February 7); Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff (February 10); ICA London (February 10, 6.10 p.m.); Phoenix, Leicester (February 20); Depot, Leicester (March 2); Midlands Arts Centre (March 15); Howard Theatre, Downing College, Cambridge (March 18); Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast (March 25)

Grateful thanks to Jordan Scott for his help with this story.

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