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anime 06 txo!?   This coming may sees Irunea play home to Japanese animation cinema. This is year number four for ANIME, a festival dedicated to animation from the Land of the Rising Sun. Civican is where and May the 11th, 12th, 13th, 18th, 19th and 20th is when.

Readers of The Balde will by now know what anime is. It’s the name given to Japanese animation films and has become how it’s recognised around the world. The same thing happened with the word Manga (the word ‘manga’ means comic in Japanese) which has long been used to talk about any and every type of Japanese comic.

Anime has become quite popular in the Basque Country. The latest generations have gotten to know anime directly and the others see it as animated films from a different culture. In the west, animation has always suffered from, amongst others, the stigma of being for kids, and this prejudice has always kept people away from anime at cinemas. This prejudice is one of the main reasons ANIME organisers Blanca Oria and Juan Zapater give when explaining why they started to organise this festival.

Fans of anime don’t get too many chances to see what they like on TV or at cinemas. You’ll come across hardly anything on the box unless it’s on the odd pay-per-view channel. The one or two films that do make it to the big screens over here don’t usually last for more than a week or so, apart from the exceptions like Spirited Away. Fans have no other option than to find the rare video club that can help them out, or, as most do, use the internet. Festivals like this are therefore undoubtedly the best chance people get to see anime on the big screen. There are two main objectives to the ANIME gathering. On the one hand, it gives fans the chance to enjoy these films, and, on the other, it’s also a gateway for people unfamiliar with this genre to get to know it. The fact that it’s free in also helps with this.

In the three years it’s been celebrated, ANIME has managed to nicely balance screenings of classic and newer anime with premieres as well. They also try to show previous work by filmmakers with new work at the festival. This gives viewers the chance to see a filmmaker’s older films as well as the latest ones and thus have a wider perspective on their work. However, due to restrictions imposed by CAN, this year’s edition doesn’t include previous acts like talks, workshops and karaoke sessions.

This year also sees old and new films on show. There is a special cycle dedicated to filmmaker Mamoru Oshii and together with older classics Lamu and Ghost in the Shell, we can also see the unbeatable sequel to Ghost in the Shell, Innocence. Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo’s Steam Boy (at cinemas quite recently but only on show for a very few days – the ideal complement to Akira) and master filmmaker Miyazaki’s latest movie, Howl’s Moving Castle have yet to be confirmed. As regards series the classic Samurai Champloo, Samurai 7, Last Exile and Captain Harlock, amongst others, will all be on show.

ANIME 06 also provides us with a rather curious and interesting little gem: Gizaku, anime made in Spain. As we mentioned at the start, even though the word anime is used to describe animated film made in Japan, it is already used to label films of a certain style, irregardless of where they are made. The fact is that Japanese drawing and storytelling has it’s own style and anything that follows this can be regarded as anime. In one of the other editions the odd Korean film was premiered in ANIME and this year it’s a film from Barcelona’s turn. Although it hasn’t been confirmed, the organisers intend to put on an exhibition that will include the sketches, drawings and storyboards used to make the film. The director of Gizaku will also give a talk.

ANIME 06 will also feature manga comic stalls, Japanese swords, aikido and dance displays as well as intros to the films on show. We’ll certainly be heading out that way on the days in question.