Another year, another Sci-Fi London Anime Allnighter! Yes, one of Animetion's favourite UK anime events is still going strong, and once again we were there to check it out. Readers of our previous Anime Allnighter features will know that since the demise of ADV Films a couple of years ago Manga Entertainment have pretty much taken over the event, but this time their dominance was confirmed by a change of name. The Anime Allnighter is no more - welcome to the Manga Allnighter!
the change of name though the event is basically the one we have
come to know and love. Held as always in the Apollo West End
cinema just round the corner from London's Piccadilly Circus, the
Allnighter kicked off at just after midnight and ran till around
8am the following morning. For the entry price of £30 you get
a bill of four films plus free tea, coffee, ice-cream and Red
Bull during the intervals and a goodie bag which contained
volume 1 of the excellent She, The Ultimate Weapon on DVD,
alongside badges, books, flyers, a can of energy drink and a handful
of random promotional items. The organisers run quizzes and
giveaways between films too, with great prizes up for grabs
including Blu-Ray, DVDs and t-shirts.
Last October's Anime Allnighter was notable in that - for the first time since we started going to it - all of the films were pretty hard-core sci-fi titles. However, this time that really wasn't the case. The night started well with the UK premiere of Madhouse's highly anticipated racing anime Redline, a futuristic and massively stylish anime from the man behind the 'World Record' segment of the Animatrix anthology. His trademark style was instantly apparent in the stunning visuals but the pounding soundtrack was played out at
ear-splitting volume, which may have woke us all up but didn't do
much for our eardrums! However, after this you would have been
hard pressed to qualify any of the other films as science fiction.
Next up was Bleach The Movie: The Diamond Dust Rebellion, the
second film spin-off from the popular Bleach fantasy
franchise which saw all of the main characters from the series get
into a giant supernatural rumble whilst one of them fights his inner
demons. It was pretty well animated and generally entertaining
but it was also cheesy and completely impenetrable to anyone
unfamiliar with the original anime or manga. Nonetheless it
kept everyone alert, but that was quickly shattered by the
yawn-inducing Musashi, a film that sounded much better on
paper. Although the film was interesting, its method of
looking at the life of the legendary Japanese swordsman Miyamoto
Musashi was to string together a handful of impressive action
sequences with a series of documentary segments. Intriguing on
DVD maybe, but in a cinema it just served to send a large portion of
the audience to sleep. An un-billed episode of the fantasy
series Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood tried to wake
everyone up again before the night was rounded off by another UK
premiere in the form of Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works.
This final film was an alternative take on the Fate/Stay Night
series and featured plenty of action but once again suffered from
being impenetrable to newcomers not familiar with the original
series or story. For a more in-depth look at the films, please
check out the next page.
Kudos for Manga for snagging a few UK premieres for the night, and the selection of films was interesting, but we were a little disappointed at the lack of sci-fi titles. Manga have the rights to Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance and Summer Wars, both excellent sci-fi titles that have already been on the bill of a few film festivals and either would have been a better fit than the decidedly un-cinematic Musashi. In the end Redline and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood were the two titles that stood out most on the bill, not
least because you didn't need as much prior knowledge of a franchise to get a grip on them. There was also a technical issue that hampered proceedings, with Redline missing the vocal track for the first 20 minutes or so. On top of this there were a few grumblings from the audience when it was clear that the Bleach film was being played from a DVD (note to organisers: don't let the DVD menus come up on the cinema screen) and when Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was played from a computer source that looked suspiciously like a fansub.
The Manga Allnighter remained good value for money and well worth attending, but the bill this time was slightly weaker than some of the previous ones. It was a shame the sci-fi focus of October's event was lost this time round, and many of the films on the bill demonstrated far more style than substance. Musashi was a bad choice for the event due to its unconventional style which seemed much more suited to the small screen, and the Bleach and Fate/Stay Night films were action-packed but held the most appeal to fans of the series' that spawned them. Redline was flashy but shallow, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was, at the end of the day, the first episode of a TV series rather than a film. None of the titles shown were totally bad though, and you'd be unlikely to see many of them in the cinema outside of this event. To be honest the chance to see any anime in the cinema is one that we can't help but embrace, and even when the films shown are a bit disappointing it's hard to argue with the appeal of an event such as this. The Sci-Fi London Manga Allnighter 2010 may not have been the best of the bunch, but we still wouldn't miss it!