One of the happy traditions I’ve maintained through the years of writing this column rolls in around this time of year, when the Hawaii International Film Festival releases its program and I scroll through to pick out everything that anime fans might be interested in seeing.
Recent festivals in the spring and fall have seen fan favorites like "Cowboy Bebop: The Movie," "Steamboy," "Paprika," both of the "Rebuild of Evangelion" films to date and "Summer Wars" come to town. In a few weeks two more anime will join them:
» "Redline": The latest production from Madhouse Studios ("Cardcaptor Sakura," "Death Note") features an elite Camaro driver pitting his skills against the galaxy’s best hovercraft and rocket pilots in an illegal race on a hostile planet.
In an article in the Daily Yomiuri, Roland Kelts wrote that screenwriter and illustrator Katsuhito Ishii was inspired to write the film’s story after a trip to rural Texas where he saw people spending hours caring for and tinkering with their cars. "I wanted to create a story that featured really cool cars and fast action," Ishii told Kelts. "I wanted to make an anime that wouldn’t be for urban Americans, who already know about anime, but would be attractive to those people in the countryside."
The film has been hitting the festival circuit worldwide, debuting in Switzerland before making stops in Australia, New Zealand, San Francisco and, of course, Texas. The film screens locally at 9:30 p.m. Oct. 14.
Side note: If you want to see another Ishii-written film for the irresistible price of "free," head to Room 101 and 102 of the University of Phoenix’s downtown campus tomorrow at 7 p.m. for a screening of "The Taste of Tea." The school is on the ground floor of the Topa Financial Center, 745 Fort St.
» "Welcome to the Space Show": "Redline" might have the heart of Texas, but this film has the voice of Susan Boyle, who sings the theme song, "Who I Was Born to Be." The movie, guided by the same production team behind the various "R.O.D.: Read or Die" series, follows a group of schoolchildren as they go on an intergalactic adventure with Pochi, a doglike alien. The film made its U.S. premiere earlier this year at Otakon, an anime convention in Baltimore. Screens at 7:15 p.m. Oct. 23.
In addition, two live-action films have ties to anime and manga released in the U.S.:
» "Beck," based on Harold Sakuishi’s manga tale about a dull teen who rockets to stardom with the help of a wild rocker just back from America and his odd, patchy dog. The 26-episode anime is available from Funimation; Tokyopop released 12 volumes of the manga before the rights reverted to Kodansha. Screens at 10 p.m. Oct. 16 and 8:30 p.m. Oct. 19.
» "Time Traveler: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time," the live-action adaptation of the 2006 anime of the same name (released by Bandai Entertainment in the U.S.). While both are based on the novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui about a girl who gains the ability to literally leap backward through time and tries to reshape her past into a better future for herself, director Masaaki Taniguchi places the live-action characters in different situations than the anime did. Screens at 9 p.m. Oct. 15 and 7 p.m. Oct. 19.
HIFF Ohana members get first crack at tickets today, with sales to the public opening Monday. Tickets are $12 for general admission; $10 for students, seniors, military and children; and $8 for HIFF Ohana members. Visit the HIFF office from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Oct. 13 at 680 Iwilei Road, Suite 100, or buy online at www.hiff.org.