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Anime Not Just for Kids
Peter Howell, Movie Critic, The Toronto Star, September 29, 2000
Made in Japan: Festival screens movies that have influenced Western Animation.

Made in Japan: Festival screens movies that have influenced Western Animation.

In Japan, cartoons aren’t just for kids. Animated stories – popularly known as anime – are created for all audiences, whether they’re youngsters seeking Saturday morning fun or adults looking for serious drama.

“They have anime for girls, boys, adults, old people, sports lovers – there’s a huge diversity there,” says Sunhan Eren of Anime North, a group of Toronto anime enthusiasts.

His claim is borne out in the current Japanese Anime Film Festival at the Royal Ontario Museum, programmed by Anime North, which began last weekend and continues each weekend through Oct. 15, as part of the Japanese cultural celebration known as Access Japan 2000.

The anime fest spans several decades, screening many of the classics of a genre that was originally inspired by the cartoons of Walt Disney, but which in turn has inspired Disney animators and a growing number of anime fans.

Anime is known for its rich artwork and multi-layered stories, which often include themes of an environmental or anti-war nature.

An example was last week’s first screening, Jungle Emperor Leo by anime pioneer Osamu Tezuka, which many believe was the model for Disney’s The Lion King. A more recent example was the future shock sci-fi of Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell, which also screened at the fest last weekend. (Both films are available on video; Ghost regularly shows up at the Bloor Cinema.)

The anime fest continues tomorrow and Sunday with three films that will please the whole family: Samurai Express Yaemon (Sat. 1 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.); Lupin the Third – Gold of Babylon (Sat. 3 p.m., Sun. noon) and Dragon Ball Z: World’s Strongest (Sat. 5 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m.)

Next weekend, Oct. 7-8, will feature The Golden Bird (Sat. 1 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.); Grave of the Fireflies (a drama not recommended for children, Sat. 2 p.m., Sunday noon) and Lupin the Third – Castle of Caliostro (Sat. 4:30 p.m., Sun. 2:30 p.m.)

The final weekend, Oct. 14-15, will feature Kiki’s Delivery Service (Sat. 1 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.), Madcap Island (Sat. 2:45 p.m., Sun. 11:14 a.m.) and Princess Mononoke (Sat. 5:45 p.m., Sun. 1:45 p.m.)

All screenings are at the Royal Ontario Museum theatre. Tickets are $4 for adults, $2 for children, with proceeds being donated to the Hospital for Sick Children. For more information, e-mail animeinfo@japancg-toronto.org.

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