Barbican Film - Japanimation, Spring 2009 - After Tezuka, Tekkonkinkreet, Fullmetal Alchemist

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Japanimation in Spring 2009 Cinema Hotline: 0845 120 7527

Barbican Film continues its ever-popular Japanimation series in 2009 with more exciting chances to see the best in Japanese anime in the comfort of the Barbican cinema. Japanimation is curated by leading anime expert and author Helen McCarthy, who will introduce each screening in the series. Beginning in January, After Tezuka picks up from Barbican Film's Osamu Tezuka: Movies into Manga from 2008 with a selection of films illustrating the great animator's lasting influence on the genre. Then in February Helen McCarthy discusses the globalisation of anime followed by a rare chance to see Michael Arias' award winning Tekkonkinkreet on the big screen; while in March Japanimation fans can come to the Barbican to see the award winning film Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror Of Shamballa.

JAPANIMATION: AFTER TEZUKA - Wednesday 28 January to Sunday 1 February 2009
To mark the 20th anniversary of his death, Barbican Film presents a series of screenings inspired by the work of influential animator Osamu Tezuka, the father of modern anime. Tezuka died in February 1989 leaving behind a number of unfinished works in both comics and animation while his completed works included a huge range of material which had not been filmed or animated. Since then, the company he founded has been promoting his legacy, both making new Tezuka animation and encouraging other artists to take his work in new directions. Curated by Helen McCarthy and following on from 2008's Tezuka season, After Tezuka presents an opportunity to assess work inspired by Tezuka and review his enduring influence.

Wednesday 28 January
6pm - Dororo (15*) (Japan 2007 Dir. Akihiko Shiota 139 min) plus introduction by Helen McCarthy
This rip-roaring fantasy epic set in mediaeval Japan does full justice to Osamu Tezuka's manga original, as well as providing an interesting example of how a director with no previous affiliations to Tezuka handles his material. Superb design creates an atmospheric backdrop for stunning central performances from Satoshi Tsumabuki as Hyakkimaru and Kou Shibasaki as irrepressible urchin Dororo. Tony Siu-Tung Ching, who worked on Curse of the Golden Flower, Shaolin Soccer and House of Flying Daggers, contributes some fine action set pieces to support director Shiota's meditation on family, friendship, greed and vengeance.

Saturday 31 January
3.00pm- Tezuka's Legacy: Black Jack (2004 Japan Dir. Satoshi Kuwabara/Macoto Tezuka 30 min) and In the Beginning (PG*) (Japan 1997 Dir. Osamu Dezaki 75 min) plus discussion with Helen McCarthy
A chance to see Tezuka's influence on the small screen, from the character of Black Jack who appeared in various forms during Tezuka's lifetime to the project that Tezuka was working on – an interpretation of the Bible – right before his death. (Total programme approx. 160 minutes with interval)

Black Jack: Episode 1
Back Jack was one of Tezuka's favourite manga characters and had appeared in animated roles during his creator's lifetime. In 1993 he was redesigned by Akio Sugino for a series of new stories inspired by the original manga, with director Osamu Dezaki heavily involved in the screenplays. This is the first episode of the 2004 TV series, directed by Tezuka's son Macoto and Satoshi Kuwabara which continues the evolution of the Tezuka's mythos for new audiences and new technology.
In The Beginning: Episodes 1 to 3 (The Creation, Cain & Abel and The Story of Noah)
An Italian-Japanese co-production, this 26-episode TV series was an interpretation of the Bible made by non-Christian Asians for screening at the heart of Christian Europe. It also bridges the transition from work made with Tezuka's personal input to work made entirely after his death. Tezuka was so enthusiastic about this project that he spent two years completing the pilot film of Noah's Ark, writing the scenario and drawing many of the designs personally. He passed away during production, but Osamu Dezaki, who had already worked extensively with Tezuka Production, stepped in as director.

Sunday 1 February
1.45pm - Phoenix: Immutable Conclusion (15*) (Japan 2004 Dir. Ryosuke Takahashi 100 min)
The Phoenix manga cycle was described by Tezuka himself as his “life's work”, a vast saga recounting the persistence of life and the quest for immortality from the earliest times far into the future. It was animated for TV in 2004, as a 13-episode series directed by SF specialist Takahashi and designed by Tezuka veteran Akio Sugino. This four-episode section is set in a future on the brink of Armageddon, where mankind lives in underground cities controlled by computers.

Sunday 1 February
3.45pm - Akira (15) (Japan 1988 Dir. Katsuhiro Otomo 124 min)
Otomo's film of his own groundbreaking comic kick-started an anime boom in the English-speaking world, but the manga's dedication – to Osamu Tezuka – was omitted from English translations. Akira, descended from Atom, changed the landscape of Western science fiction film as well as giving animation a new image as a nihilistic, violent art form that took almost twenty years, and a Hayao Miyazaki Oscar, to live down. The artful unfolding of the story arc (compressed for cinema) and the cast of damaged children and compromised adults struggling to make sense of a devastated world pay fitting tribute to Tezuka's influence on Otomo's generation.

TEKKONKINKREET (TREASURE TOWN) (12A) (Japan 2006 Dir. Michael Arias 111 min) plus masterclass lead by Helen McCarthy - Tuesday 24 February, 8.30pm
A masterclass by Helen McCarthy on the battle for a decaying metropolis and a rare chance to see Michael Arias' award winning Tekkonkinkreet (2006) on the big screen. Michael Arias's film of Taiyo Matsumoto's manga Tekkonkinkreet has already won a clutch of prizes in Japan and beyond. It's been both acclaimed and hammered by critics. The title is a pun on a Japanese word for deep relationships, merged with one for steel concrete reinforcements. As old societies break down and new ones are built on their ruins, it asks whether anything is unchanging in a changing world, whether there is anything beyond the self that can withstand the passage of time.

As the first Japanese animated feature to be both directed and written by foreigners, some see it as an indicator of the medium's future. Anime and manga have been the first world movements to challenge the USA's dominion over pop culture since the 1960s, when another small island nation took over the world with music. With the increasing importance of foreign money and foreign ideas, is anime going global or selling out?

FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: CONQUEROR OF SHAMBALLA (15*) (Japan 2005 Dir. Seiji Mizushima 105 min) plus introduction by Helen McCarthy - Tuesday 24 March, 8.30pm
Picking up from where the successful Japanese TV series had left off, this feature film version of Fullmetal Alchemist begins as two brothers from the world of Amestris are separated on either sides of the gate between parallel universes. Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist, finds himself on Earth in Germany in the depression of the 1920s and befriends Alfons Heiderich who resembles Edward's brother Al. No longer able to perform alchemy, Edward researches rocketry with the young man attempting to get back to his home world and reunite with his brother. After helping a Roma woman called Noa, he is introduced to the fascist sympathising Thule Society to whom she has been sold, and its occultist Dietlinde Eckhart. Dietlinde also seeks to journey to Shamballa (Amestris) intent on invading it and harnessing its powers for her own evil ends. Cinema Hotline: 0845 120 7527

Ticket prices:
Book online and save up to £2 off every ticket!
Standard: £7.50 online (£9.50 full price)
Barbican Members: £6.50 online (£7.50 full price)
Concessions: £7.50
Under 15: £4.50
Monday Madness: all tickets £5.50

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