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Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack

The Niigata International Animation Festival will launch its second edition on March 15, featuring an expanded competition lineup, a legendary guest speaker, and loads of special screenings.

This year’s NIAFF has invited writer and director Yoshiyuki Tomino, best known for creating the Gundam anime franchise, to be its guest of honor and will screen his 1988 classic Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack. Tomino will attend the festival and host a keynote speech.

Tomino began his animation career at Mushi Productions in 1964 as a production assistant. He rose through the ranks, working as a storyboarder and screenwriter for Astro Boy before he left the studio to be a freelance artist. Over the past six decades, Tomino has worked on numerous iconic franchise titles, including Triton of the Sea, Invincible Super Man Zambot 3, Mobile Suit Gundam, and Space Runaway Ideon. His most recent work was as a writer on Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Freedom, released in Japanese theaters earlier this year.

NIAFF was launched last year as an annual event dedicated to elevating animated features from around the world in Japan. This year’s competition lineup is indicative of that goal and includes the following 12 titles:

  • Bizarre Fish from the Abyssal Zone, Marcelo Marão (Brazil)
  • Four Souls of Coyote, Áron Gauder(Hungary)
  • Kensuke’s Kingdom, Neil Boyle, Kirk Hendry (U.K.)
  • KURAYUKABA, Shigeyoshi Tsukahara (Japan)
  • Maboroshi, Mari Okada (Japan)
  • Mantra Warrior: The Legend of the Eight Moons, Veerapatra Jinanavin (Thailand)
  • Mars Express, Jérémie Périn (France)
  • On the Bridge, Sam Guillaume, Fred Guillaume (Switzerland / France)
  • Sultana’s Dream, Isabel Herguera (Spain)
  • The Inventor, Jim Capobianco, Pierre-Luc Granjon (U.S.)
  • The Other Shape, Diego Felipe Guzmán (Columbia)
  • When Adam Changes, Joël Vaudreuil (Canada)

The 12 films were selected from 49 submissions. That’s a significant increase from last year, when 10 features were screened from 21 submissions. The jury that curated this year’s selection included Yoshihiko Yatabe (former Tokyo International Film Festival programming director), Ryota Fujitsu (anime critic), Akiko Sugawa (Yokohama National University professor / Japan Society for Animation Studies president), and Homami Yano (director, Honekami).

The year’s festival competition jury will include Oscar-nominated director Nora Twomey (The Breadwinner), Michael Fukushima (producer, Affairs of the Art), and Yuichiro Saito (producer, Mirai).

NIAFF program director Naoshi Sudo said of this year’s lineup:

The entries were more diverse than last year, not only in terms of culture but also in terms of methods of production and expression. Some works did not fit into the conventional concept of animation, which led to the selection committee engaging in lively debates about the question of “What is animation?” The competition specializes in feature-length films, and the selection committee was committed to the festival’s goals of “excellence in images,” “excellence in storytelling,” and “achieving diversity.”

Although we were able to expand the competition selection to 12 from last year’s 10, there were many works that the selection committee was heartbroken that they could not include. These films have been carefully selected, and NIAFF is very proud to present them. We are confident that if you come to Niigata, you will be able to see a snapshot of the current state of animation production around the world.

More details, including the full non-competition screening lineup, are available on the festival’s website.

Pictured at top: Yoshiyuki Tomino, Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack