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!

Other than 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!