afNews 10 Febbraio 2024 10:05

La II edizione del Festival di Niigata celebra Isao Takahata

The 2nd Niigata International Animation Festival launches on March 15th, 2024. Our inaugural festival in 2023 received an enthusiastic response from the international animation community. We are an animation festival dedicated to feature length works and aiming to be the largest animation festival of its kind in Asia. Mamoru OSHII served as chairperson of the competition jury and Katsuhiro OTOMO designed the poster. The festival was attended by many luminaries of the anime community such as directors Sunao KATABUCHI, RINTARO, Shinchirō WATANABE, and renowned mecha manga-ka / animator Mamoru NAGANO. Niigata has become an important destination for lovers of animation. Expectations are high for this year’s event!

Last year, our retrospective was a big hit thanks to the attendance of acclaimed manga & anime legend Katsuhiro OTOMO. This year, we will pay homage to director Isao TAKAHATA, who sadly passed away in 2018. His masterworks like Grave of the Fireflies (1988) and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013) continue to be inspirational for animators around the world. The programme will not only feature his Studio Ghibli works, but also earlier feature length works from his debut with Little Norse Prince Valiant (1968) at Tōei Dōga (now Tōei Animation) with chats from guests who worked on the productions.

Isao TAKAHATA 高畑 勲

Animation director.

Born October 29, 1935 in Ise, Mie Prefecture, Japan. Grew up in Okayama.

In 1959, upon graduation from the University of Tokyo with a degree in French literature, he joined Tōei Dōga where he had his directorial debut on the series Ken the Wolf Boy (1963-1965). His debut feature film was Little Norse Prince Valiant (1968). After leaving Tōei Dōga he working for other studios directing works like the popular TV series Heidi, Girl of the Alps (1974), Marco aka From the Apennines to the Andes (1976) Anne of Green Gables (1979), Chie, the Brat (1981-1983), and the film Gauche the Cellist (1982). In 1985, he was co-founder of Studio Ghibli. In 2013, his long-awaited final film The Tale of the Princess Kaguya was released to much acclaim, winning the Mainichi Film Concours for Best Animation Film and nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards.

Selected Feature Films:

Little Norse Prince Valiant 『太陽の王子 ホルスの大冒険』

date: 1968 length: 82min. ©東映

Also known as The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun, this was the feature film debut of Takahata. It is also historically significant as the first animation that he worked on with Hayao MIYAZAKI. Set in a kingdom in ancient Norway, our young hero Horus (aka Hols) must fight off a pack of wolves armed only with an axe. In so doing he accidentally awakens an ancient stone giant called Mogue (aka Rockor). Horus aids Mogue in removing a sword wedged deep in his shoulder. It is the Sword of the Sun and Mogue tells Horus that it will help him defeat the evil of he Frost King of Grunwald. Thus begins the much-loved adventures of Horus, a tale that has inspired generations of anime fans around the world.

The Adventure of Panda and Friends 『パンダコパンダ』

date: 1972 length: 35min. ©TMS

Known in North America as Panda! Go, Panda!, this is an historically significant animation as the first production of an original screenplay by Hayao MIYAZAKI. An orphaned girl called Mimiko has to hold down the fort in her bamboo forest home while her grandmother is away. A baby panda called Pan-chan and her father Papanda come to live with Mimiko, creating a surrogate family for her, until their happy circumstances are threatened by the zookeeper. Highly recommended viewing for families with young children.

The Adventure of Panda and Friends: The Circus in the Rain

『パンダコパンダ 雨ふりサーカスの巻』

date: 1973 length: 39min. ©TMS

Known in North America as Panda! Go, Panda!,Rainy Day Circus, we continue to follow Mimiko who is still living with her adopted Panda family in her large house in a bamboo forest. One day, a circus ringmaster and his assistant come to pry around the house in search of a baby Tiger who has escaped their circus wagons. After they leave, Tora-chan, the baby Tiger’s presence is discovered in their home, and chaos ensues!

Anne of Green Gables 『劇場版「赤毛のアン グリーンゲーブルズへの道」』

Date: 2010 length: 100min.

© NIPPON ANIMATION CO., LTD. “Anne of Green Gables” ™AGGLA

Since its publication in 1908, the Canadian novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery has touched the hearts of generations of readers. The Nippon Animation 50-episode series in 1979 was widely praised as a faithful adaptation of the original story. In 2010 Takahata supervised this re-edit of the first three episodes into a feature length film for re-release.

Chie the Brat: Downtown Story 『じゃりン子ちえ』

date: 1981 length: 110min.  ©はるき悦巳/家内工業舎・東宝・ユニバーサルミュージック・TMS

Known as “the most unfortunate girl in Japan”, resilient 10-year-old Chie must help her good-for-nothing, unemployed, gambler father go straight by running a small okonomiyaki joint together near Tsutenkaku Tower in Osaka. All the while, Chie is trying to get her separated parents back together. An amusing, heartwarming drama that gives audiences a taste of life in the unique culture of the Kansai region.

Grave of the Fireflies 『火垂るの墓』

date: 1988 length: 88min. © 野坂昭如/新潮社, 1988

The tragic tale of a boy called Seita (14) and his younger sister Setsuko (4) as they try to survive in Kobe after the loss of their parents and home in an air raid during WWII. They try to seek shelter with unemphatic relatives and end up trying to make it on their own. A powerful story about the innocent victims of war whose lesson is just as important today as when the film was made. An internationally acclaimed antiwar story that won numerous awards including the Agency for Cultural Affairs Outstanding Film, Best Animated Feature Film at Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, Japan Animation Grand Prize and the Best Children’s Rights Award at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.

Only Yesterday 『おもひでぽろぽろ』

date: 1991 length: 119min. © 1991 岡本螢・刀根夕子・Studio Ghibli・NH

It’s the summer of 1982 and 27-year-old office worker Taeko needs a break from the daily grind of life in Tokyo. She heads off on a 10-day holiday to visit her sister and extended family in Yamagata. Her brother-in- law’s cousin Toshio picks her up from the station which marks the beginning of a new phase in Taeko’s life. The holiday turns into a soul-searching journey filled with wistful nostalgia in which Taeko is forced to reevaluate her life and relationships. Only Yesterday was a surprise box office success the year it came out, attracting a large adult audience, who deeply identifying with the life of the main protagonist. It went on to become the highest-grossing domestic film of 1991 in Japan.

Pom Poko 『平成狸合戦ぽんぽこ』

date: 1994 length: 119min. © 1994 畑事務所・Studio Ghibli・NH

The Tokyo suburb of Tama New Town is being developed into much needed affordable housing. Unfortunately, this means the displacement of the natural habitats of many wildlife creatures such as the tanuki, aka raccoon dogs, who fight back against the development with their shapeshifting and other legendary skills. A delightful, imaginative tale that draws on Japanese folklore and mythology. The film won the Grand Prix at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival.

My Neighbors the Yamadas 『ホーホケキョ となりの山田くん』

date: 1999 length: 104min. © 1999 いしいひさいち・畑事務所・Studio Ghibli・NHD

Based on a four-panel manga, this film is a series of vignettes following the lives of the Yamada family: Dad Takashi, Mom Matsuko, Grandma Shige, son Noboru (13), daughter Nonoko (7), and Pochi, their pet dog. With its unique caricature visual style and stories that everyone can identify with, this film is a real crowd- pleaser. Winner of the Excellence Award at the 3rd Japan Media Arts Festival.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya 『かぐや姫の物語』

date: 2013 length: 137min. © 2013 畑事務所・Studio Ghibli・NDHDMTK

The pièce de resistance of Takahata’s career, this labor of love took 8 years to make and cost 5 billion yen, making it the most expense Japanese film to date. An adaptation of the 10th century literary classic “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter,” in which a bamboo cutter discovered a tiny girl inside a glowing bamboo shoot. Nominated for an Oscar and won numerous awards including Best Animated Film at the Mainichi Film Concours.

TV Anime Special Selection

Ken the Wolf Boy 『狼少年ケン』

Directors: Sadao TSUKIOKA, Isao TAKAHATA, Kimio YABUKI, et al. Episode 14: The Greatest Operation in the Jungle (dir. Takahata)

Year: 1963 length: 25min. ©東映アニメーション

Climate change caused by a comet plunge is wreaking havoc on ecosystems, but the wolves of Africa have an advantage in the form of our hero is Ken, the “two-legged wolf”, a boy who has been raised by wolves in the Himalayan jungle. He helps his wolf pack in their efforts to protect the peace of the jungle. We follow him on his adventures as he looks out for the twin wolf cubs Chichi and Poppo, befriends Jack, the one-eyed wolf, and fends off danger posed by other wild animals and humans. A gem of a series that is not as well known internationally as it should be.

From the Apennines to the Andes (Marco) 『母をたずねて三千里』

director: Isao Takahata

Known simply as Marco in the many countries where this series was dubbed for local markets, this adaptation of the Italian novel Heart (Cuore) by Elmondo de Amicis tells the tale of a young boy living with his family in the harbor city of Genoa. It is 1881 and the city is in crisis. Marco’s father Pietro Rossi is a hospital manager who is dedicated to helping those more unfortunate than himself, which brings his own family into financial distress. His mother, Anna, goes to Argentina to work as a maid and send money back to support Marco. When her letters stop arriving, Marco sets out to the Americas to search for her. The series was dubbed in many languages and was an instant classic throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.

Retrospective Talks

  • Sunday, March 17 Isao Takahata and Gauche the Cellist

Takashi NAMIKI (producer, historian, Anido chairperson) × Toshitsugu SAIDA (animator)

  • Sunday, March 17 Isao Takahata’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya & Thereafter

Nozomu TAKAHASHI (MC/animation film producer) × Yoshiaki NISHIMURA (President of Studio Ponoc) x Hiroki SAKURAI (Executive Producer, Netflix Animation Creative Team)

  • Tuesday, March 19

Sunao KATABUCHI (animation director, screenwriter, storyboard artists) × Masao YOKOTA (psychologist, animation expert)

The Festival City of Niigata

In the 19th century, Niigata was a crucial hub for international commerce, a window to the world for Japan surpassing Edo as a shipping port. Niigata has also produced many renowned manga and anime creators. Since 2012, Niigata has implemented a city development concept promoting the city as an important hub for manga and anime. The annual Niigata Anime & Manga Festival (GataFes) brings an estimated 50,000 visitors into the city and the nationwide Niigata Manga Award has been held since 1996. The Niigata City Manga House has a manga library of over 10,000 books, a “Tokiwaso” subsidized residence for aspiring manga artists, and a manga magazine editorial department. Niigata prides itself on being one of the most passionate anime and manga cities in the world and strives to become the 21st century animation capital of the world! We hope that NIAFF will act as a magnet to bring animation fans from around the world to enjoy the unique mix of traditional and modern culture that Niigata has to offer.

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