Tokyo Intl. Anime Fair Roundup

The fifth edition of the annual Tokyo International Anime Fair named Aniplex’s Full Metal Alchemist: The Movie the Animation of The Year in late March. The film was chosen by 205 judges from a field of 389 titles of all genres that were shown, aired or sold on home video during 2005. The anime production also fetched the Best Original Story award for Hiromu Arakawa, the woman behind the Manga of the same name carried by Square-Enix’s Boy’s Gangan monthly magazine, and the Best Music award for Michiru Oshima.

Disney’s The Incredibles won the Notable Entry award in the overseas feature film category, while Tatsunoko Production’s Karas and Bandai Visual’s Yukikaze shared the Notable Entry prize in the original video category.

The Notable awards in the television category were presented to Bones’ Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven, directed by Tomoki Kyoda; Tezuka Prods.’ Black Jack, directed by Makoto Tezka, the son of Osamu Tezka of Astro Boy fame; and Marvelous Ent.’s Mushi-shi, directed by Hiroshi Nagahama. Meanwhile, TMS’s Detective Conan, Strategy Above the Depths, directed by Yasuichiro Yamamoto, and Sunrise’s Mobile Suit Z Gundam ‘ Heirs to The Stars, both won Notable Entry awards in the theater division. Gundam‘s director, Yoshiyuki Tomino, was named the Best Director and Eureka scribe Dai Sato won Best Screenplay. The awards for best character design and art direction went to Kenichi Yoshida and Takeshi Waki, respectively, for Mushi-shi.

The open entries category included 143 student films from 19 countries. The grand prize was awarded to Crow That Wears Cloths, a film about a crow dreaming of becoming a human, directed by Kazuo Ebisawa, a junior at Waseda University’s Kawaguchi Art School.

All these award-winning anime titles will be shown free of charge Aug. 25-27 at the Tokyo Anime Center, officially opened to the public on March 15 at Akihabara UDX Building in the Akihabara terminal. Tokyo Metropolitan TV (MXTV) will air the show itself and the award winning anime between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. on May 4 and 5.

Directed by Seiji Mizushima, Full Metal Alchemist is the saga of two brothers torn apart by war. The show is known in Japan as Hagaren, an abbreviation of the Japanese title, Hagane-no Renkinjutsushi. A total of 51 episodes aired in Japan on TBS/MBS networks every Saturday between October 2003 and September 2004, and can still be found in rotation around the world. Cartoon Network responsible for the U.S. and Australian market.

Tokyo Anime Fair 2006 was held March 23-25 and attracted 98,984 visitors, up 17.6% from last year, and nearly twice as many as in the first edition in 2002. A record number of 890 members of the press showed up, marking an impressive 42.7% increase from last year and showing a soaring media interest in the event, according to the organizing committee.

The show gave a strong push to new anime creators, setting aside a special corner and 30-plus booths to individual animators and anime-related schools, whose numbers doubled to 19 this year from last year’s 10.

The largest display of the show in size was the dragon head from Studio Ghibli’s new anime feature, Gedo Senki (Ged’s War Chronicle). Known in English-speaking territories as Chaos from Earthsea, the production is based on the 1972 book The Farthest Shore, the third story in Ursula K. Le Guin’s saga Tales from Earthsea. The new film is directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro Miyazaki, in his directorial debut, and produced by Toshio Suzuki. The story follows the adventure of Ged, a young man with magical powers who teams up with Prince Arren in the outskirts of civilization where old Gods and dragons lurk. Korea’s DR Movie worked with Studio Ghibli to create the animation for the film.

A few years back, Suzuki told a local newspaper that Hayao Miyazaki was talking about translating Le Guin’s stories for anime more than 30 years ago. It didn’t materialize then, partly because of reluctance on Le Guin’s part, and also because Miyazaki was so involved preparing production for his feature, Nausica in the Valley of the Wind.

The trailer for Gedo Senki aired on Nippon TV on February 23 and the production is scheduled to be released in Japan by Toho theaters in July. No details were revealed about overseas distribution, thanks to the usually tight-lipped Studio Ghibli, but Walt Disney Pictures is likely to handle the U.S. release.

The 2007 edition of the Tokyo Anime Fair will take place at the same Tokyo Big Site in Daiba water front in Tokyo between March 22 and 25. Although Gov. Shintaro Ishihara will remain chairman of the anime fair executive committee, the actual operations of the show will be largely handled by the Association of Japanese Animations, with the coordination of Tokyo Metro Government staff so far in charge of the show, according to Kentaro Kato, executive committee producer of the 2006 show.