Fantasia Announces Anime and Manga Highlights for 27th Edition, July 20 – August 9

Fantasia Announces Anime and Manga Highlights for 27th Edition, July 20 – August 9

SAND LAND, KURAYUKABA, and TOKYO REVENGERS 2 are among the anime and manga highlights at Fantasia 2023

Fantasia, North America’s largest and longest-lived genre film festival, returns in 2023 with an amazing selection of imaginative films from around the world, including a bounty of cinematic treasures for aficionados of anime and manga!

Best known for the world-renowned DRAGONBALL, celebrated Japanese manga creator Akira Toriyama’s many other works include the mini-epic SAND LAND, a demon-infested, post-apocalyptic screwball romp published in 2000. It portrayed a mysterious desert world where water is the most precious resource, and follows Satan’s son Beelzebub and his comrades on a desperate, dangerous quest. Toriyama’s countless fans can rejoice because now, a quarter century later, an anime adaptation has further rekindled SAND LAND’s appeal. Fantasia’s crowd can take particular pleasure in this news, because the director is the talented Toshihisa Yokoshima, a deft master of CG animation whose short film COCOLORS won a Satoshi Kon Award at the festival in 2017. Canadian Premiere

Equal parts crazy cartoon caper, shadowy film noir, nostalgic escapade, and steampunk fantasy, KURAYUKABA is

a retro-flavoured anime reimagining of the freewheeling Taisho era, Japan’s equivalent of the Roaring Twenties, following private eye Sotaro into the Dark, the notorious, anarchic maze under the city, where he confronts its subterranean denizens, including the malicious Laughing Masks gang and the renegade police squad piloting the fearsome Demon 463 armoured train! KURAYUKABA Is the long-awaited personal project of director Shigeyoshi Tsukahara, whose resume includes stage design for adventurous pop-rock superstars Sekai no Owari. Preceded by a pair of rare short films by Tsukahara, Fantasia’s world premiere of KURAYUKABA is a chance to discover a distinctive emerging talent in the anime field. World Premiere.

“The word ‘no’ doesn’t exist in a concierge’s dictionary.” That’s just one of the demanding rules that Akino must abide by in her new job as a concierge at the elegant and expansive Arctic Department Store, where the customers are all animals, and the most valued among them are of extinct species. This anime gem adapts the much-loved manga by Tsuchika Nishimura. Populated by all manner of creatures great and small, THE CONCIERGE is a colourful, comical, compassionate little treasure of bespoke anime, boasting animation production by Production I.

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G and a script by Satomi Ooshima (FORTUNE FAVORS LADY NIKUKO), marking the feature-film debut of gifted director Yoshimi Itazu (PIGTAILS, Fantasia 2016). North American Premiere

Basketball has always given Ryota and his teammates a sense of purpose, and they’ll do whatever it takes to win the championship, in THE FIRST SLAM DUNK, the first new feature-length film from the globally cherished franchise in over 28 years. An electrifying underdog story loaded with inspiring moments, it’s the latest entry in Takehiko Inoue’s iconic franchise that’s had a huge impact in Japan. Written and directed by Inoue himself, making his directorial debut, his love for basketball is evident from start to finish through the stunning mix of CG and hand-drawn animation. THE FIRST SLAM DUNKnot only made history at the Japanese box office last year, it’s one of the highest-grossing anime films of all time. It even won the Japan Academy Film Prize for Animation of the Year. Canadian Premiere

Thirty years ago, after almost a decade of dedicated work by top talents from both India and Japan, an anime adaptation of the Ramayana, a foundational text of Hinduism and one of human civilization’s most expansive mythological epics, was unveiled. RAMAYANA – THE LEGEND OF PRINCE RAMA proved to be a cross-cultural collaboration par excellence. Frustratingly, the film disappeared from international circulation following a few theatrical screenings, never seeing release on any home-viewing format, and for decades remained little more than a rumour whispered among dedicated anime fans. At last, this marvelous work has been lovingly restored and once again revealed to the world in all its splendour. An exciting, colourful cinematic sensation of myth, music, monsters and mighty heroes, millennia in the making! Quebec Premiere of the 4K Restoration


Takemichi must go back in time again to prevent a tragic event from having unimaginable consequences. In bringing to the screen the excellent Bloody Halloween story arc from Ken Wakui’s revered manga series, director Tsutomu Hanabusa (PROJECT DREAMS: HOW TO BUILD MAZINGER Z’S HANGAR) has made the wise choice of splitting TOKYO REVENGERS 2 into two films, PART 1 and PART 2. While TOKYO REVENGERS is now considered by many fans to be a near-perfect adaptation, this sequel doesn’t disappoint. The mind-blowing fight sequences, the dedicated and enthusiastic performances, and Hanabusa’s flawless direction do justice to the original material, and then some, but the stakes are doubled and the risks taken by the protagonist are heightened. International Premiere

Nakami, an introverted young loner, takes refuge in the largely abandoned observatory at Kuyo High School, where he meets Magari, an enigmatic and spontaneous student. Both suffering from chronic insomnia, they decide to revive the school’s astronomy club. INSOMNIACS AFTER SCHOOL, a magnificent adaptation of Makoto Ojiro’s popular manga masterfully directed by filmmaker Chihiro Ikeda, is a gentle immersion into the Japanese school life of a pair of endearing misfits. The luminous, moving story is portrayed with aplomb by two extremely talented actors, will stay with you long after viewing this exquisitely delicate work, Daiken Okudaira (MOTHER) and Nana Mori (TOKYO GHOUL S, WEATHERING WITH YOU). International Premiere

Adapted from the popular light novel series MY HAPPY MARRIAGE by Akumi Agitogi, AS LONG AS WE BOTH SHALL LIVE is an epic tale of empowerment and unlikely romance, infused with stunning fantasy elements and high-stakes action. Through director Ayuko Tsukahara’s meticulous and unmistakably feminine point of view, Mio Imada of the live-action TOKYO REVENGERS series delivers a touching performance as Miyo, a tortured Japanese Cinderella who refuses to stop believing in a better future for herself, while Ren Meguro (from the J-pop band Snow Man) embodies Kiyoka as if he’d jumped straight out of a shojo manga. Shot in some of the country’s most picturesque natural locations, this new feature film is a perfect introduction to one of Japan’s most exciting up-and-coming franchises! Quebec Premiere


Nezumikozo Jirokichi, the infamous Rat, was a folk hero of olden-day Edo (imagine Robin Hood in a yukata). His exploits intrigued pioneering filmmaker Sadao Yamanaka, whose populist sympathies and penchant for blending genres laid the groundwork for jidaigeki (period films) in the 1930s.

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Though Yamanaka’s vision of Nezumikozo is a lost film today, a team of anime luminaries have reconstructed the tale from his script and notes, and paid homage to the roots and particularities of their national cinema at the same time.

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NEZUMIKOZO JIROKICHI is directed by the venerable Rintaro (GALAXY EXPRESS 999, METROPOLIS), with character designs by Katsuhiro Otomo (AKIRA). A lively, witty, heartfelt celebration of the best in Japanese popular culture across the centuries! International Premiere

Visit any variety store or musical instrument shop in Japan, and it’s likely that you’ll find a rack devoted to a novelty toy synthesizer with the appearance of a cartoon eighth note, called the Otamatone. It’s the best known of the many creations of Maywa Denki, a Tokyo-based company that democratizes creativity while legitimizing silly fun as a noble pursuit. Not only is Fantasia presenting the world premiere of the OTAMATOON series of video vignettes using MIDI and animatronics to bring the Otamatone and its associated kawaii noisemakers to life, the festival is welcoming Maywa Denki’s co-founder, inventor, musician, artist, and entrepreneur Novmichi Tosa for DISCOVER MAYWA DENKI, a special, free artist talk/workshop event — an introduction to Maywa Denki’s history, an encounter with its most popular products in action, an unveiling of the OTAMATOON series, and a chance to purchase Maywa Denki items rarely seen in North America!

In 2018, Fantasia world-premiered ARAGNE: SIGN OF VERMILLION, an indie horror-anime feature created alone by Japanese director, writer, composer, and animator Saku Sakamoto. He returns to the twisted world he imagined with FEAST OF AMRITA, a brand-new prequel that stands firmly on its own, again descending into his mind-scarring melange of modern urban gothic, skin-crawling bio-horror, and impossible cosmic abomination, all unfolding with the deranged logic of an unrelenting nightmare. North American Premiere

Paying tribute to the master of anime, Hayao Miyazaki, Brazilian filmmaker Chris Tex and a handful of dedicated friends have created a truly memorable fan film, faithfully recreating a passage from NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND in live action. A non-profit labour of love seven years in the making, shared with the world (starting with Fantasia’s audience!) for free, Tex’s WIND PRINCESS will doubtlessly delight aficionados of Studio Ghibli.  World Premiere

Mobilize undercover ultra-kawaii action playmates Piyomaru, Sweet, and Rainbow Yah! Activate battle mecha romper suits! Assume fun-time fight formation! Super techno toddler trio Baby Force is go! Yuki Kubo’s brief but bedazzling short film BABY FORCE makes its debut bow at Fantasia! World Premiere

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