When people talk about UK anime events they often don't look much further than the conventions and expos.  However, if you look a bit harder there quite a lot of other events that are well worth attending.

One of the best in our opinion has always been the Anime Allnighter.  The event is part of the Sci-Fi London Film Festival, a now bi-annual celebration of science fiction films and TV held in central London.  The Allnighter is a traditional fixture of the Saturday night of the festival and is held in the Apollo West End cinema, which is just a stone's throw from London's Piccadilly Circus.


  The Anime Allnighter is exactly what it says on the tin, an all-night anime marathon which gives you the chance to see some excellent and random anime films on the big screen.  Starting at midnight and running till approximately 8.30am, the Anime Allnighter is definitely one for the insomniacs amongst you, but with previous screenings including Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Appleseed: Ex Machina and Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballah, there's plenty of reasons to stay awake.  The night usually features around five films with breaks in between each one, during which free Red Bull, coffee and ice-cream is available in the cinema

foyer.  It's not the only freebie either - competitions are run in between screenings and every attendee is given a goodie bag containing books, DVDs, leaflets, badges and other promotional items.  The artistic amongst the attendees can also use the pens provided to leave their mark on the paper covered 'Manga Wall' outside the cinema's toilets, a couple of examples are shown above.  It's all pretty impressive when you consider that tickets for the event cost 30, which may be up from about 25 last year, but is still a bargain for what you get.

This year the Allnighter once again took place on the Saturday of the first May bank holiday weekend in the Apollo West End cinema.  It's continued success meant that it once again occupied two of the cinema's six screens, and the organisers impressively succeeded in running several other Allnighters alongside it, including the regular Mystery Science Theatre 3000 one and a Star Trek movie marathon.  Unlike some other anime events there is a really chilled out atmosphere at the Anime Allnighter, something that is facilitated by excellent organisation from both the cinema and the Sci-Fi London staff and committee.  The event was run better than ever too, this time there were few delays in the screenings and none of the technical issues which caused last year's event to overrun.  Previous Anime Allnighters have seen a selection of films drawn from the catalogues of all of the major anime companies, and ADV Films' Hugh David was a regular guest host.  However, with ADV making no new licenses, MVM without any films to showcase and Beez strangely absent, the Allnighter's programme featured just Manga Entertainment titles.

This was a bit surprising, especially following Beez's high definition releases of Gunbuster and Freedom.  We were hoping that their forthcoming samurai actioner Sword of the Stranger would make the bill, but it was not to be.  However, Manga certainly had an eclectic selection of titles to show, and with a decent range of styles and genres covered there wasn't really anything to complain about.  Top billing was given to Ghost in the Shell 2.0 and Afro Samurai Resurrection, with the organisers bringing in special high-definition projectors specifically for these screenings.  Ghost in the Shell 2.0 is a modern overhaul of Mamoru Oshii's classic cyber thriller, and with a

DVD and Blu-Ray release still several months away the chance to see it early was one of the Allnighter's big draws.  Afro Samurai Resurrection was also a major title being screened ahead of it's release and another surprise was the third Naruto film, which at the time of the event was not even announced as licensed for the UK!  The bill was rounded off with Gonzo's verdant eco sci-fi Origin, a somewhat overlooked release from last year, and the bright and cheerful children's anime Panda! Go Panda!, which was an early work from Studio Ghibli co-founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.  For a full low-down on all of the films shown, please refer to the next page.

  Although a bit of variety distributor-wise would have been good, the range of films on offer was eclectic and interesting, easily matching the quality of those shown in previous years.  There was a decent balance between good, bad and weird, the freebies (particularly the superb ice-cream) were excellent and all in all the night was damn good as always.  The Anime Allnighter is a severely overlooked part of the anime calendar, but to be honest it is one of most enjoyable anime events in the UK.  It's a really relaxed and fun experience and we will certainly be going to the next one!