The annual Asian Film Festival of the Leidecker Center for Asian Studies
Leidecker Center for Asian Studies
Asian Film Festival 2006 Program
February 1, 2 and 4
Wednesday, February 1, Combs 237 6:00 p.m.
Ghost in a shell (1995)
by Mamoru Oshii
The skillful blending of drawn animation and computer-generated imagery excited anime fans when this science fiction mystery was released in 1995: many enthusiasts believe Ghost suggests what the future of anime will be, at least in the short term. The film is set in the not-too-distant future, when an unnamed government uses lifelike cyborgs or “enhanced” humans for undercover work. One of the key cyborgs is The Major, Motoko Kusanagi, who resembles a cross between The Terminator and a Playboy centerfold. She finds herself caught up in a tangled web of espionage and counterespionage as she searches for the mysterious superhacker known as “The Puppet Master.”
Mamoru Oshii directs with a staccato rhythm, alternating sequences of rapid-fire action (car chases, gun battles, explosions) with static dialogue scenes that allow the characters to sort out the vaguely mystical and rather convoluted plot. Kusanagi’s final quote from I Corinthians suggests that electronic evolution may compliment and eventually supplant organic evolution. The minor nudity, profanity, and considerable violence would earn Ghost in the Shell at least a PG rating. –Charles Solomon
Thursday, February 2, Combs 237 6:00 p.m.
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
by Isao Takahata
Isao Takahata’s powerful antiwar film has been praised by critics wherever it has been screened around the world. When their mother is killed in the firebombing of Tokyo near the end of World War II, teenage Seita and his little sister Setsuko are left on their own: their father is away, serving in the Imperial Navy. The two children initially stay with an aunt, but she has little affection for them and resents the time and money they require. The two children set up housekeeping in a cave by a stream, but their meager resources are quickly exhausted, and Seita is reduced to stealing to feed his sister.
The strength of Grave of the Fireflies lies in Takahata’s evenhanded portrayal of the characters. A sympathetic doctor, the greedy aunt, the disinterested cousins all know there is little they can do for Seita and Setsuko. Their resources, like their country’s, are already overtaxed: anything they spare endangers their own survival. As in the Barefoot Gen films, no mention is made of Japan’s role in the war as an aggressor; but the depiction of the needless suffering endured by its victims transcends national and ideological boundaries. –Charles Solomon
Saturday, February 4, 1:00, Dodd Auditorium
by Hayao Miyazaki
Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl in the midst of a move to the suburbs with her parents, wanders into a mysterious town. It’s the “other world” of gods and monsters, ruled over by a witch. There, humans are changed into animals and disappear. Chihiro, who has a listless disposition, must start working at a huge bath house to survive. Can she return to her own world?